I would like to address erroneous statements about the upcoming July 31 vote on the statewide transportation SPLOST in Sunday’s letter to the editor by Mike Sims from Blairsville.
Sims stated that “Your county will not get all of the 1 percent tax it collects, as some of it will go to regional projects out of your county that you probably will never use.” The truth is getting drivers to a highway is a small piece of the puzzle, so while 75 percent of the tax will be used on regional projects which our local leadership had a hand in deciding on, in many cases, it is the arterial network that allows drivers and freight to move from one highway to another.
Another argument states “Most voters do not know where the 25 percent money will be spent within their county.” In fact the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce has published on its website all of the community lists that we have received so far, so that as a Liberty County voter you can look and see the local projects coming from that 25 percent, as well as the regional projects, which include several in Liberty County, that will come from the 75 percent.
Further argument says, “That 95 percent is a huge increase and not all projects will be done in the 10 year cycle as there are not enough engineers or construction companies to do all the projects promised.” In fact, the TIA project list is designed to maximize federal and state dollars. Every project submitted for consideration and ultimate approval on the final list had to come from an existing plan. As a result, projects funded through TIA either complement an existing project or jump start a new phase of a plan to enhance mobility. If the sales tax is passed, it will free up funds already programed and those will now be eligible for additional regional priorities. For the Coastal Region this would mean a revenue projection of $1,608,343,970 and projected job creation of 43,425 jobs.
It is urgent that voters in the coastal region educate themselves by looking at the proposed project lists and projected jobs that will be created in our region. You can find our region’s project lists at a number of websites.
The Georgia Competitiveness Initiative’s report says that it “reveals that transportation’s role is but a small piece of a larger, complex economic development puzzle all begging for funding …” In reality, in the Commission’s final report, Gov. Deal said, “For half a century, Georgia’s transportation assets, affordable energy, expansive telecommunications networks and abundant natural resources were highlights of successful economic recruitment efforts. As other states and nations made investments in their own infrastructure in order to compete, Georgia maintained the status quo, and that advantage is diminishing. Reinvestment in and expansion of these assets, including long-term planning, is critical to the state’s economic future.”
The benefits could not be clearer — in the coastal region. It is a new sales tax of one cent that will be raised from purchases by our region’s residents, as well as those passing through doing letting our visitors help improve our road system and create jobs.
I hope the citizens in our region will educate themselves and vote “yes” for our region’s economic future.
Leah Poole, CEO
Liberty County Chamber of Commerce
Editor’s note: The Liberty Chamber is backing passage fo the tax, as is the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.