Consequences of voting ‘No’ on regional tax costly to Fayette?

There is a lot of talk these days about the regional one-cent transportation sales tax initiative known as the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 that will be voted up or down at the polls in mid-2012. But what happens if voters in any of the 12 “special districts” across Georgia turn down the proposal that was given birth earlier this year in House Bill 277?

Whether considered a punitive action or an opportunity to enhance transportation-related projects, the reality is that failure to pass the referendum will result in a hefty contribution by counties when it comes to local transportation projects.

By way of background, the enabling legislation that will lead to the 2012 vote came earlier this year by way of House Bill 277 that established a process through which the counties included in 12 identified regions (or districts) of the state would compile a list of needed transportation projects that would eventually be put to voters in those regions.

For Fayette County, that vote would be included with the proposals from the other counties that make up the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission. If it passes regionwide, the vote would trigger a 1-cent sales tax collection that would span 10 years. And if approved, a small portion of the collections would be used for local transportation projects while the larger portion would go toward regionally identified and approved projects for the ARC area.

The multi-step process calls for the members of the state’s 12 special districts to establish a Regional Transportation Roundtable (RTR) for their district and submit a draft project list prior to Oct. 15, 2011. If the RTR fails to submit a project list DOT will consider the committee gridlocked. The result of that gridlock will mean that ”... the local governments in such a special district shall be required to provide a 50 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation. Such 50 percent match requirements shall remain in place until the special district roundtable approves an investment list ... and the election is held.”

A 50 percent match. So how does that compare to past DOT requirements? Contacted Monday, DOT representative Jill Goldberg said the current Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) program that replaced both the Local Assistance Road Program (LARP) and state aid program requires a 10 percent match. Previously, the state aid program required a 50 percent match while the LARP program required no match though it did require the local funding of project pre-work activities, the costs for which could be substantial. Goldberg added that under LMIG there is no match for resurfacing state roadways.

Back to the proposed 1-cent tax. So what happens if the RTR does generate a list that will, in some fashion, be presented to voters in mid-2012 but the voters turn it down? That will cost each county a 30 percent match for any LMIG work for “... at least two years and until such time as a special district sales and use tax is approved.”

And what if voters approve the 1-cent sales tax? In that event the match is 10 percent which is equal to the percentage currently required under the new LMIG program.

The local match is just one of the convoluted issues involved in the idea of having a regional 1-cent sales tax for transportation. At recent meetings and in print there has been some lively discussion on upcoming RTR activities that will lead to a vote in July 2012. Vocally supporting the measure were Fayette County commissioners and Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele; voicing their opposition, and also suggesting that Fayette should perhaps leave the ARC and join the Three Rivers Regional Commission, were Tyrone Mayor Don Rehwaldt and Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix.

doright's picture
Joined: 07/14/2008
paying MORE taxes is patriotic

Our beloved Veep said that paying taxes is patriotic and this article gives us an opportunity to show our patriotism because whether the SPLOST is approved or not the citizens of Fayette WILL BE TAXED! You will be forced into showing your patriotism!

In the day and age of mismanagement of money and over spending maybe its time we try something new.


Let's do the right thing and cut spending and be fiscally responsible.

pips1414's picture
Joined: 03/18/2009
Let's Face It...You Can't Have It Both Ways

It's simple. We stay with ARC and we're one Chihuahua fighting Gargantua with our "2% of the total voice." We whisper, ARC roars. I like the way Fayette County lifestyle looks right now. Sure, there are a few problems like the highway 54 and 74 intersection at 5PM. But it's much better than it used to be. Remember the intersection of highways 314 and 279? These were problems we had that needed fixing and we fixed them. But we don't want to look like Clayton County, Fulton County, or any of the other 9 counties served by ARC. The problems they have in those other counties with traffic, gangs, ghettos and all that goes with acquiescing to the big counties...all that is the real development that would crumble the Fayette County we know and love.

I read a comment yesterday where the writer didn't give a hoot about the West Bypass wasted money issue...all he cared about was his own travel time to Atlanta. I challenge anyone to present a scenario where thruways, buses and rapid transit will make our rural atmosphere look better. Theoretically, you would speed up traffic by reducing the number of automobiles. But realistically, you would actually create much more traffic by opening up the county to more rampant development, especially from Clayton and South Fulton County.

When I was in high school, Gwinnett County had about 25,000 people. Then, roads and developers got in. Now they're up to about 800,000 people, gridlocked in a maze of asphalt, road rage, and high taxes. They even tore down their towers on I-85 that said Gwinnett is Great! We can be another Gwinnett County if that's what you want. The roads are there, but you don't get to and from work in Atlanta any sooner. So how does getting more roads, trains and buses improve the rural characteristics of Fayette County? More people, more crime, and we get to witness what few here have seen, the formation of gangs and ghettos.

Three Rivers, however, would give us a much louder voice in the big picture, and help us stay the way we are much longer. Your trip to Atlanta is mostly spent in other counties. What we do here will never change that. So factoring out that part of the equation, it's really not such a big deal getting out of Fayette County going to work in ATL, is it? Realistically, with more roads, trains or buses, anyone spending X number of minutes going to work might save five minutes until development catches up with the transportation improvements. When I lived in North Fayette, I tried taking MARTA to Atlanta from Flat Shoals Rd., it took me 30 minutes longer getting to downtown Atlanta. Wait for the bus, wait for the train, wait, wait, wait! But when ARC descends upon us, it's too late. You got what Steve's naysayers wanted, but you're sorry for what came with it. Think about it this way...MARTA, buses and freeways don't come alone.

You might also pull up the Atlanta Outer Loop diagram that is drawn to go through downtown Fayetteville, thanks to ARC. We are little more to ARC than an annoyance.

The thing about Steve Brown is...he's usually right.

Don Haddix
Don Haddix's picture
Joined: 08/17/2007
Haddix: Added Info

"Concept 3", meaning bus and rail in Fayette.

I had seen this before but was unable to find it online until today to share.

While the vote was taken, but could be changed on a reconsideration, my goal here is to just share with the public to give the best understanding possible of what is happening via our State officials and ARC.

Bikepilot's picture
Joined: 10/03/2007
Vote them out

Guess their heads need to be added to the future chopping block. I will vote against anything that request more money for any level of gov't until they can show they will act responsibly with our money. My only vote of yes will be education or teacher related.

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Joined: 04/23/2007

Both Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Chance voted for this mess, our State is just as out of control as the Feds.