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T-SPLOST will help local economy, roads

Letter to the editor

POSTED: July 30, 2012 2:00 p.m.

Editor, On Tuesday, the citizens of Liberty County and the entire Coastal region will make a ballot decision on whether to approve a one-penny sales tax for 10 years to fund essential transportation projects.

There are many unemployed and under-employed residents in our region who would like to see some of those jobs come here. The most important part of this is, not only will there be jobs created through construction, but there will be a trickle-down effect when those employed spend locally. If this referendum passes, more than 43,000 jobs are estimated to be supported just in our region.

Some of the opponents of T-SPLOST say the solution to our transportation woes is merely raising the gasoline tax. Sorry, folks. Good idea, but it won’t work. The gas tax is at a fixed “per gallon” rate, so as we drive fewer miles in more fuel-efficient cars, the income goes down. We need billions to repair and upgrade our vital transportation system.

Besides, the price of gas is already high, and we already pay nearly 20 cents per gallon in sales tax. Moreover, a 1 percent motor fuel tax (33 cents per gallon on average in Georgia) will generate only $170 million each year as opposed to the $1.9 billion annually that would be generated throughout Georgia if the referendum passes in all 12 regions.

A citizen oversight committee of non-elected officials would be appointed by the speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor to help ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget.

Today, local governments are required to match state funds in order to receive their state local maintenance grants. If the voters turn down the transportation referendum, the local match will be 30 percent. If the project list is adopted and the voters pass the transportation referendum, the local match will be 10 percent. Jurisdictions where the regional sales tax doesn’t pass will have to fund transportation projects through other sources of revenue such as grants, toll roads, local tax or bond referendums and federal money.

I’m voting yes to approve a one-penny sales tax that, by law will, end in 10 years. Or we can choose to vote no and keep our region’s roads, bridges and economy stagnated.

— Leah Poole
Chief Executive Officer
Liberty County Chamber of Commerce
Liberty County Convention & Visitors Bureau

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