T-SPLOST reasons and $7.2 billion vacuum

Our 10-county metro Atlanta region is getting down to the wire — the last day to vote whether or not to increase your sales tax burden for the next decade is Tuesday, July 31st.

As many readers who’ve followed this on-going debate know, government plans to spend the $7.2 billion of proposed taxes on 157 road and transit (bus and train) projects. Opponents say, “Way too much money for way too little congestion relief.”

Proponents say something different. In fact, their list of reasons to vote for the 10-year tax is now changing just about weekly.

Originally, it was all about congestion relief: “Untie the traffic knot!” messages prominently displayed a ball of congested roads, and implied that the tax-supported projects would all but eliminate congestion and long commutes.

Sort of like a $7.2 billion Electrolux vacuum sucking vehicles off our thoroughfares. That done, companies and jobs would flock to the region in droves and there’d be two chickens in every pot.

Then the regional government’s reports and statements showed that the projects would have little impact on overall congestion. Some projects would certainly deliver as promised, but far too many would not. Our two chickens turned into one huge turkey.

Proponents brought in a hired gun from Washington, D.C., who provided two new purposes for the tax.

First, we can simply skip the need to reduce traffic congestion to attract new companies — they’ll come here simply because we have some more buses and trains (proposals add about 11 miles of rail; in comparison, we have about 30,000 miles of roads).

He also suggested that tax opponents are racists.

Apparently, those arguments weren’t providing much rationale for more taxes either, so Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed chimed in with yet another reason.

He let us know that he’d recently talked to Bill Clinton, who told him “the whole world is watching.”

In other words, who cares about the lack of benefit from our taxes, just do it because Bill says so.

I’m next door in Alabama as I write this, and I haven’t found anyone here who’s even aware we have a vote on the 31st, much less that it’ll decide on a 10-year sales tax increase for 157 projects.

And Mayor Reed expects us to believe the North Koreans, Cypriots, and the Danes are breathlessly awaiting the vote?

Georgia, we CAN do better and we MUST do better. Vote “No” on the tax and remain engaged with elected officials to demand a responsible solution to greater metro issues.

Bob Ross

Peachtree City, Ga.

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