Hinesville leaders collectively are disappointed by Tuesday’s failed T-SPLOST referendum, according to Mayor Jim Thomas and Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier.
Frasier said he spoke Wednesday morning with other city council members and City Manager Billy Edwards about their feelings toward the referendum vote. Thomas said the leaders would begin a discussion about options in Thursday’s city council meeting.
“I’m very disappointed the measure failed,” said Frasier, who added that other city leaders had expressed similar sentiments. “I’m particularly concerned about the reasons some people gave for their non-support. I don’t know if they didn’t like the list of projects, or if they didn’t feel like they were involved enough in the selection process for the projects.”
Frasier said he also was disappointed in apparent opposition to the city’s transit system receiving T-SPLOST funds, saying that most people don’t realize ridership on most cities’ transit systems always is under what the public expects for the first 10 years.
If T-SPLOST had passed, he said, it would have helped the city maintain the transit system until ridership gets to what it should be.
Thomas equally was dismayed but diplomatic.
“I really think (T-SPLOST) was a great idea, but the overwhelming majority did not,” he said. “Liberty County and a few others approved it, but the majority didn’t, and this is a democratic country.”
Both leaders emphasized that all the transportation projects slated for funding by T-SPLOST would have helped Liberty County’s development. Frasier hoped the state Legislature would come up with something the people could support.
He admitted, however, he wasn’t aware Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday he wasn’t in favor of another T-SPLOST.
Atlanta’s WXIA-TV reported the governor said he plans to “take charge” of Georgia’s transportation projects through “traditional” means, like the state’s Department of Transportation.
Noting the state would receive $700 million less in federal transportation spending, the governor said the state’s projects list would have to get smaller.
Frasier said one issue he had with the state’s transportation-fund efforts was that most of the revenue generated from higher gas taxes tended to wind up in the Atlanta area.
“With T-SPLOST, we had an opportunity to spend our own money right here,” he said. “And again, some of those projects would have really helped this area. The bypass, for example, would have been completed in four or five years. Now it might be nine or 10 years.”
Frasier said he and other city leaders would have to sit down and talk about options, saying decisions about new methods for funding transportation projects would not be made right away. Thomas admitted there is not much they could do, noting the amount of money the community would have received through T-SPLOST cannot be matched through other sources.
“We’re going to have to put some projects on hold and hope we get some more money from the federal or state government,” he said.
Frasier noted options like an increase in the gas tax are not looked upon favorably with gas prices already rising and motorists trying to cut back on travel to save money. He also noted that increasing millage rates for personal property taxes would affect property owners and could hurt residential development.