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There are always at least 2 sides to every issue. Cobb County columnist Ron Sifen offers another perspective on the Transportation Sales Tax.
The TSPLOST was supposed to be about reducing traffic congestion.
The Atlanta Regional Commission has conceded that the TSPLOST projects list will do little to reduce regional commute times. The ARC says they are defining “alleviating traffic congestion” as meaning increasing the number of people who can reach a point in the region within 45 minutes. The ARC has conceded that this has nothing to do with improving the flow of traffic, and that it will have an insignificant impact on reducing commute times.
The reason that so many state legislators are now opposing the TSPLOST is that the projects list became a massive bait-and-switch. Most of the money, billions of dollars, is going to projects that will do little or nothing to improve the flow of traffic.
In public presentations on both July 12 and July 13, TSPLOST proponents said
* Light rail has NOTHING to do with reducing traffic congestion, and
* Light rail has NOTHING to do with moving people.
* Cities build light rail to promote economic development.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation recently concluded that the TSPLOST projects list has “massive boondoggles that will put this state at a disadvantage for decades,“ and that “it would commit the region to wasteful spending on questionable projects for long past the 10-year sales tax.”
A new Channel 2 Action News/Rosetta Stone Communications poll shows voters are not yet convinced.
Thirty-five percent of the registered voters polled said they’ll vote for the measure. Fifty-five percent said they oppose the tax.
Monday morning, July 23, the ARC sent out an email titled “10 Facts about the Regional Transportation Referendum”. I would like to respond.
1. Low spending and high congestion: Georgia ranks 48th in the nation in transportation spending per capita, and ranks 4th in total hours the average commuter spends in on the road each day.
Yes, we need to find more money for transportation. But first, we need to manage what we are spending more intelligently. GDOT has failed its last 4 audits and can’t seem to find about $1 billion. Also, according to ARC’s own analyst after we spend $8 billion on these projects the reduction in commute times will be “not much”.
2. Little room for expansion: Without additional funding, about 70 percent of metro Atlanta’s scheduled transportation dollars for the next 30 years will be spent on maintaining our current transportation network, leaving little room for expansion.
Again, we need to fix GDOT first. Maintaining the roads can only be efficient if they can prudently maintain their accounts. Continue reading
“This isn’t a penny tax, this is a 1 percent tax on virtually everything you buy,” Bell said.
Bell is the outspoken co-founder of a group called the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance (GTA) and offered what he called “alternative viewpoints” on the 10-year, 1 percent sales tax voters in the 10-county Atlanta region and across Georgia will decide on July 31.
GTA was founded by Bell and another activist in 2009 to speak for the citizens’ voice on many issues. The group has advocated on issues like property and sales taxes, and has conducted many rallies and media interviews.
“You might have seen me on the side of the road with a sign before,” Bell said.
Bell began by noting that T-SPLOST advocacy groups have a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign, but recent polls indicate the tax may not pass in the Atlanta region. Continue reading
Following is a March 16 list of donors to Citizens for Transportation Mobility’s upcoming advocacy efforts for the transportation sales tax referendum. This project is legally distinct from, but related to, the current educational marketing campaign by The Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network. Donors are listed in the order presented.
Cox Enterprises (AJC – WSB)
Georgia Association of Realtors
Georgia Power Co.
The Coca-Cola Co.
Yancey Bros. Co.
C.W. Matthews Contracting Co.
Cousins Properties Inc.
ATLANTA — Two weeks ahead of the primary election, an exclusive 11Alive News poll shows a majority of voters oppose a tax increase for regional transportation projects. The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) would equal one cent for every dollar spent in a given region.
Among likely voters surveyed by SurveyUSA for 11Alive News, across the state, 48% said they would vote against T-SPLOST and 36% said they would vote for it if the primary were today; 16% were still undecided. The margin of error was 3.4%.
The Marietta Daily Journal reports supporters of the July 31 transportation sales tax referendum has resorted to calling tax foes “racists” as polls show 56% of likely voters say no to the tax.
Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has also described opponents of a proposed rail line from Midtown to Cumberland Mall as racists, according to MDJ.
“And one of the major reasons is that you turned your back on MARTA,” Leinberger said. “You have so underinvested in MARTA, and of course we all know what MARTA really stands for. It’s not the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit. It is Moving African Americans Rapidly Through Atlanta. You’ve racialized it. The white suburban neighborhoods and places have completely ignored the economic development potential that MARTA could have been and will be in the future.”