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Second anti-tax rally planned for Saturday
Transportation tax opponents, from left, Wes Leech, Ginger Ellis and Ernie Housner prepare to protest July 21. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

A group of people opposing the July 31 transportation sales tax referendum are taking to the streets of Forsyth County with their message.

The Forsyth County Tea Party Patriots Alliance organized a demonstration at the corner of Hwys. 9 and 20 this past Saturday, and has another event planned for this coming Saturday.

Member Bob Frey said the group will meet about 8:45 a.m. at the Starbucks on Market Place Boulevard and Hwy. 20 before sending people out to the streets with signs and information to hand out.

“This whole thing is just such a fraud the way it’s set up,” Frey said.

Known as the T-SPLOST, the transportation special purpose local option sales tax is a proposed 1-cent on the dollar tax for transportation projects.

The regional sales tax is on the ballot in several areas of the state, including the Georgia Mountains Region, which includes Forsyth, Dawson, Lumpkin and Hall, among other northeastern counties.

Some of the approved projects in Forsyth include widening: Ga. 400 from McFarland Road to Hwy. 20; Hwy. 9 between Hwys. 20 and 306; and Hwy. 369 from Hwy. 9 to Ga. 400.

Proponents say the tax would generate funding for needed transportation improvement projects that would ease congestion.

But according to Frey, one of the local tea party group’s concerns is that the sales tax revenue collected in Forsyth wouldn’t stay in the county.

“It goes into the government’s fund downtown and then they can dole it out here in drips and drabbles,” he said.

He thinks there are “better ways to raise the money,” such as the gasoline tax.

A small group joined the demonstration last weekend, but Frey expects a larger turnout this weekend.

Ernie Housner, vice president of the Tea Party Patriots Alliance, said the group doesn’t endorse candidates, but it is concerned with proposed tax increases.

“When I talk to people, I say it’s more than 1 percent. When you divide one by seven, it’s actually a 14 percent increase [in sales tax],” Housner said.

The materials in favor of the tax, he said, are promoted by organizations or contractors with dollars to support the campaign.

“The amount of money trying to fight it is not really any money. It’s just a grassroots movement of people,” he said. “That’s what we’re all about.”