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.”

bob merchant
bob merchant's picture
Joined: 10/21/2005
More big brother in my

More big brother in my pocket?
No thanks, have you ever heard of the TEA party? Do you have any clue as to why we feel we are Taxed Enough Already?

You think it's a just a penny? You are a fool, go out and buy that car from Nissan on the last page of the Citizen for $26,997, you will fork over another 269 dollars to a group of people that have no clue. Has the government ever done anything fiscally responsible?

Bad enough I need to deal with the crooks that jacked the sewer rate by 60%. Now more hands in my pocket?

You can pave my street in gold and I would say NO. This is just smoke and mirrors to funnel more money to a mismanaged Marta. You won't see a thing but less money in your pocket. Over 10 years, thousands and thousands less.

Join me please on referendum day and just say NO!

Pat Hinchey
Pat Hinchey's picture
Joined: 09/10/2010
tax offset

thats ok...I will make up the 1% additional tax they suck out of my pocket when I drop my membership to the Fayette and Henry Chambers of Commerce

Citizen Bob
Citizen Bob's picture
Joined: 05/06/2010
Process and Outcomes

Everyone wants more job opportunities, prosperity, and an improving quality of life. Whether you're a member of the Chamber, a political party, or in a Tea Party, we all agree on these basics. Too many T-SPLOST proponents, however, are confusing process with outcome. Taxing regional citizens $8.5b and building 157 projects over ten years is a whole lot of process, but the outcome- reduced congestion- is minimal according to government staffers.

ginga1414's picture
Joined: 09/01/2008
moelarrycurly, Is Soooo Right!

I call this whole stance by our local Chamber of Commerce a "trickle down effect" from the regional Chamber.

In a June 23rd article by Political Insider Jim Galloway, it was confirmed that "More than 400 businesses, including most of metro Atlanta's have committed to turning out an extra 50,000 voters well-versed in the financial impact of traffic congestion. Their employees, in other words."

"There's never been a campaign like it in Georgia," said Paul Bennecke, a strategist for the pro-tax effort.

"Those companies represent more than 400,000 employees. It's a lot bigger than the tea party, let's put it that way," said Sam Williams, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, which is coordinating the turnout effort.

Galloway went on to say, "But over the next few weeks, backers of the July 31 tax referendum will add a campaign instrument never before seen in Georgia, at least not on this scale: A boss who puts an arm around your shoulder and urges you to do the 'right' thing."

Yep, when the little guy might not vote the way the boss thinks he should, give the little guy some incentive "to do the right thing."

Jack Smith's influence with the ARC, regional Chamber, and local Chamber are smeared all over this.

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010
Fayett Chamber is a Political Action Commitee?

Really? Is this necessary? Does this represent the true needs of this county? Tell me, how will a tax that will never go away and will likely be increased after 10 years, benefit the businesses in this county? Don't these local business owners have better ways to spend their money than on taxes?

Why couldn't the Chamber have come out with "neutral" position on this tax? How about they come out and tell local businesses owners and their employees to do their own research and make up their own minds? Does the Chamber really feel it has to intrude on our decision making when we walk in to a voting booth?

If there is one person in this county who votes yes on July 31st as a result of this unwarranted intrusion into the individual right to decide on our own, then just watch your Chamber become even more intrusive into other areas of your business lives.

How about the Chamber take a stance on businesses putting pressure on their employees to vote a certain way on any issue? I mean, what is the difference here? How absolutely insulting to anyone who takes their ability to vote as as THEY choose as the most personal, most important privilege there is in our democracy.

ginga1414's picture
Joined: 09/01/2008
RWM Says

"The Chamber members were not consulted on this." That sounds about right. And, the hard working small business folks trying to stay afloat in this economy are the ones who will ultimately suffer for the Executive Board's decision.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
The Chamber members were not consulted on this

The Executive Board and the staff decided this was a good thing for business. Not sure how forcing local businesses to sell their products at 1% more than in neighboring counties helps. Nor do I see any road improvements directed at local business or shopping - instead I see a whole bunch of let's improve some roads and intersections to help people commute to Atlanta. How does that help local businesses? Scooting your working population to somewhere outside the county where they do their lunctime shopping?

My guess is that you will see 100% of the Chamber Board and staff vote for the transportation tax. I doubt if more than 10 or 15% of the actual Chamber members would vote for it. I think the Board is enamored with it because they have business and social and political interests that are far above those of their members - by definition a local small business owner who could care less if Atlanta were to burn to the ground tomorrow.

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