Fayette Chamber goes political, urges ‘Yes’ vote on 1¢ tax
Cites ‘strong desire from business leadership’ for backing T-SPLOST
The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce is officially endorsing the July 31 passage of the regional transportation referendum’s 10-year tax to fund transportation projects in Fayette County and the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission area.
“Clearly, there is a strong desire from business leadership to insure our county and our region has a well-functioning transportation infrastructure to keep our economy and our quality of life positive and growing,” the chamber position statement said. “Our employers depend on getting their goods and their people in and out of Fayette in a safe and timely way. An astoundingly high percentage, well over half, of our employed residents work outside of the county. Likewise, a huge percentage of our Fayette businesses’ employees reside outside of Fayette County. When we lose reasonable mobility, like the logjam that occurs each workday at the Interstate 85/Ga. Highway 74 interchange, our jobs, our tax base, and our ability to attract and retain residents are at risk.”
The fact that more than half the county’s workforce is employed outside Fayette translates into the potential for some county residents to look elsewhere for places to live.
“At the point the commute becomes unbearable, we risk our commuting residents choosing to live, and spend their dollars, elsewhere. Should we reach this tipping point, the economic impact of large scale loss of high income residents would be significant to our county, affecting our real estate market, our tax base, the dollars spent at local businesses, and ultimately will hamper our ability to afford the amenities associated with our quality of life,” the chamber said.
Associated with the regional T-SPLOST initiative, the chamber position maintained that the county’s elected leaders reached a consensus on the 2010 Fayette County Transportation Plan, that a realistic consideration of the county’s rapidly growing aging population not be ignored and that Fayette work both inside and outside the county to address future transportation and infrastructure needs.
“In light of these issues, the Fayette Chamber supports passage of the transportation referendum this July to address the needs,” the position statement said. “A key factor in our analysis is that Fayette will be a net beneficiary of the referendum. In other words, Fayette County will receive direct benefits from projects totaling more money than its residents will put in. The data clearly indicates that just accounting for projects within the county’s borders and the 15 percent of funds that are to be returned to the county for yet to be determined projects (this could be roads, cart paths, or other uses of the county’s choosing), Fayette will receive 92.5 percent of the dollars it remits.”
The return increases to 123 percent when projects such as the I-85/Hwy. 74 interchange project are included, the chamber said. Bolstering its postion in favoring passage is the expectation that construction projects will be more expensive in the future, that the projects will be eligible for federal funds and that the infusion of approximately $8 billion in the metro Atlanta economy will also help Fayette County.
As for the notion that the passage of T-SPLOST would constitute a permanent tax, the chamber maintains that is not the case, noting that the 10-year time frame is tied to state law and that any continuation beyond the 10-year period would require voter approval.
The position statement also referenced the state’s 49th place ranking in spending on transportation during a time when motor fuel taxes are declining.
“Transportation dollars are dwindling and the stress on our infrastructure is growing. The passage of this referendum will generate economic opportunities for Fayette County and the entire region, will create jobs, will lessen congestion saving commuters money and time that can be better spent with their families, and will be a shot in the arm to the lagging economy,” the chamber statement said.
According to the chamber statement, “The Fayette Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Chamber Government Affairs Committee, and a broad cross section of Chamber business leaders have spent considerable time considering the facts and issues associated with the upcoming Transportation Referendum vote on July 31st. ... Therefore, the Fayette County Chamber Board has voted to support the upcoming transportation referendum and encourages residents to learn about Fayette County’s current transportation priorities and issues, to examine the options for funding infrastructure improvements, and to vote ‘yes’ on the transportation ballot initiative on July 31.”