On the July 31 primary ballot there will be an item called a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, otherwise known as TSPLOST, which stands for transportation special-purpose, local option sales tax. Or in language we all understand, another attempt for government to get its hands in your pocket via an additional one-cent sales tax. Forming this as a constitutional amendment will make it very hard to repeal.
The purpose of this tax is to fund transportation needs, the majority of which would be road construction. Voters in the Hinesville/Liberty County area are being told that it will fund the “Hinesville bypass,” along with several other much smaller projects in our area.
Do we need a Hinesville bypass? I have watched the Highway 84 traffic for a number of years both as a professional observer of the traffic and as a commuting private citizen. I don’t see a lot of traffic on the road that is not our citizens going back and forth from home to work and shopping. I would say that less than 10 percent of the traffic is what we would call through traffic that would use a bypass. And remember, as they use a bypass they will not be spending their money in our area.
Agreed, there is some truck traffic that might use a bypass. But again this is a small amount of the traffic and our law-enforcement agencies do a fine job of keeping these trucks from becoming traffic problems. Oh, and if you want to see traffic and the need for construction, take a ride up to New York and drive on the Cross Bronx Expressway in the afternoon.
I would also like to mention that a portion of the sales tax on gasoline, 1 percent of the tax, is diverted from transportation use to the general budget fund of Georgia. That seems funny to me. And let’s also remember that a sales tax is regressive in nature. It hits hardest on the lower-income families. Lower-income families spend almost all of their money at sales-tax generating outlets, while top earners save, invest or purchase non-taxable items such as real estate.
No new taxes until our community and country recover from the current crisis and we are at full employment. Then return the 1 percent gasoline tax to transportation needs. These special-purpose sales taxes and the people that push them scare me. Locally, we generate revenue from two main sources; sales tax and property tax. If it’s sales tax, it hits lower-income citizens the hardest as it exempts wealthy homeowners and business owners. We do need a mix to insure that everybody owns a piece of the rock, but now is not the time to expand new taxes to lower-income citizens.