Perdue’s plan could force Fayette into tax
Fayette could vote down regional SPLOST and still be compelled to participate in tax
Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposal for a potential regional 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects could be assessed on Fayette County even if voters within Fayette turn it down.
Under legislation supported by Perdue, the vote to authorize such an eight-year-long tax would be at the regional level. The legislation requires votes be tallied among all 10 combined counties in the Atlanta Regional Commission.
So even if Fayette votes down the sales tax, if the 10 counties in aggregate approve it, the tax will be assessed on Fayette residents and businesses regardless.
Though much in the bill can be tweaked, Gov. Perdue believes all counties in a given region should be required to contribute to the tax even if an individual county didn’t approve it, according to Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley.
Voters in every county will have a project list to help them decide whether or not they want to support the tax, and that list will be compiled by a “regional transportation roundtable” — consisting of two representatives from each county in the region — which would review, amend and approve the list of projects for regional SPLOST funding.
Under the current proposal, Fayette and Fulton counties would get a third representative because more than half of their populations reside in cities ... but that may be subject to change by the legislature, Brantley said.
If the legislation is approved, the referendum for a regional transportation SPLOST would be on the ballot in 2012 during the presidential preference primary election.
The current legislation requires that 10 percent of the regional SPLOST revenues would be funneled back to the city and county governments based on their road miles and population. But that is the only guarantee that cities and counties have for transportation funding from the tax.
The rest must be negotiated at the roundtable level, and if no agreement is reached by a majority vote of the roundtable, the initial project list compiled by the director of the state railroad and toll authority will be the one transmitted to voters for the regional SPLOST, Brantley said.
Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), one of Gov. Perdue’s floor leaders, said Monday that he wasn’t fully up to speed on the bill, but from what he understands the proposal addresses concerns that would keep the region’s larger counties from having complete control over the project list.
“If it is how I think it is, and every county has an equal say in the projects, I don’t have as big a concern about it,” Ramsey said.
A spokesman for Gov. Perdue’s office has said Perdue is open to changes and that the legislation is a “moving target” to some degree. The requirement that the tax be enacted among all counties in the region,
Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said last week there would probably be quite a bit of discussion on various points in the proposal.
The new tax, as proposed, would not be applied on transactions that are currently exempt from sales taxes but the tax also would apply to motor vehicle fuel sales.
The legislation would also change the way Georgia bundles federal funding for transportation projects. Currently funds are divvied up equally between the state’s Congressional districts.
The change would allocate funding along the lines of the state’s regional commissions. Proponents say this would allow more funding to be spent on metro Atlanta projects.