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Bryan asking for vote on sales tax for road work

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POSTED: December 18, 2013 4:00 p.m.

Voters here one-day may be asked again to approve a penny sales tax for local road improvements if a Bryan County Board of Commissioners resolution gets any traction at the state level.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution during their Dec. 10 night meeting at the County Administrative Complex in Richmond Hill asking the state to allow individual counties “to seek voter approval” for a county T-SPLOST, or transportation-special local option sales tax.
Without it, local officials say it will be difficult to pay for transportation projects.
“There is no backup (without TSPLOST),” County Administrator Ray Pittman told commissioners at the meeting. “There are no funding mechanisms to do repairs or transportation improvements in the county as a whole.”
Bryan voters narrowly approved a regionwide TSPLOST in 2012 when the issue was up for a vote across the state. The measure passed in Bryan, 2,563-2,418.
But because the majority of voters in the 10-county coastal district voted down the measure, the tax wasn’t enacted.
Only three of the state’s 12 regions went for the sales tax, which officials say is providing ample money for road improvements.
At a September countywide retreat, former state Rep. Ann Purcell, now a member of the state transportation board, said her hometown of Glennville now has enough money from TSPLOST to repave every street in the city.
“The three regions that passed it started gathering that 1 percent extra in January, and the state issued them the first check in June — and let me tell you, those folks didn’t know what to do with all that money,” she said in September.
Bryan County officials also hope to get others to join in the effort to allow counties to set up their own TSPLOSTs.
Pittman said 24 other counties across Georgia are in a similar boat as Bryan — namely, voters in those counties passed the measure, but they are in regions that didn’t it overall.
Bryan County’s need for a way to fund road improvements was part of the county’s publicity campaign during its effort earlier this year to illustrate the need for a millage-rate increase.
One of the slides used by county officials during public hearings said the county has more than “$12 million of existing road needs with no funding source.”
It’s unclear what, if any, impact the resolution will have, but local officials have said they consider passing a TSPLOST key to future growth.

 

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