PTC’s Rep. Ramsey joins in opposing T-SPLOST
Opponents of the proposed $6 billion 10-year regional transportation sales tax in metro Atlanta now have at least a glimmer of hope to stop the measure before it makes it to the ballot box July 31.
A bill unveiled at the Georgia legislature last week would halt the sales tax vote, replacing it with a constitutional amendment to see if state voters are even willing to allow such regional sales tax initiatives.
The future of House Bill 938 is a tough one to predict, since Gov. Nathan Deal has thrown his support in favor of the transportation sales tax ... never mind the months of work that factored into the list of projects to be funded by the sales tax.
Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City has co-sponsored the legislation, saying that the projects to be funded by the tax won’t have enough of an impact on congested roads.
The final list contains “many, many, many projects that won’t even make the slightest of dents in our regions and our counties and communities,” Ramsey said last week.
House Bill 938 would replace the regional sales tax, which forces all 10 metro counties to participate, with a way for counties to enter joint agreements for a regional sales tax if they so choose ... presuming the constitutional amendment wins voter approval in November.
“This is such a big, big issue that I think it would do us well to take a step back, realize there is a better way forward and let’s consider all our options,” Ramsey said.
A major gripe of sales tax opponents is that half of the sales tax proceeds, some $3 billion, would be spent on transit, which is a minor player compared to roads when it comes to moving commuters through metro Atlanta.
In exchange for that $3 billion, the region would increase daily transit trips from 417,000 to 580,000, according to projections from the Atlanta Regional Commission. That works out to just over $18,400 for each new transit rider.
ARC also touts that all the sales tax projects, once completed, would produce a 24 percent reduction in future road travel delays.
HB 938 would ditch the July sales tax referendum in favor of putting a constitutional amendment before voters in November as to whether regional sales taxes for transportation purposes should be authorized.
If the voters approve the constitutional amendment, HB 938 would allow any two or more counties contiguous to each other to create a joint transportation sales tax proposal, which would be subject to a voter referendum in each county.
The project list would be hammered out at meetings between those counties and would require approval from the governing authorities of each county in an intergovernmental agreement. If a county rejects the project list, that county would not be subject to the tax.
Should a county opt out of the proposal, the remaining counties would go back to the drawing board to negotiate a new project list, according to the legislation.
The bill also calls for a public hearing to be conducted on the proposed project list prior to the counties’ final vote to create the local referendum that would authorize the transportation sales tax. Also, the list must be reviewed by the Georgia Department of Transportation to make sure it is consistent with any statewide strategic plan.