Potential Oconee Transportation Projects Pending Regional TSPLOST Vote
Oconee County voters will be asked to weigh in on a regional T-SPLOST on July 31. The one cent tax would provide for local transportation projects, such as widening roadways and improving highway interchanges.
A proposed regional Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), which could fund seven potential transportation projects in Oconee County, will soon be voted on by Oconee County citizens.
The TSPLOST is a proposed one-cent sales tax increase which would be collected over a period of ten years to fund regional transportation projects. The referendum was created to deal with transportation issues in the state, including increased traffic flow and lack of improvements to major thoroughfares.
State officials organized counties into twelve districts to better identify transportation needs in specific areas. Each district will have the opportunity to approve or deny the TSPLOST. Oconee County is lumped in a district known as the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission with eleven other counties, including Barrow, Jackson, Madison, Clarke and Newton.
Representative Jim Dove of the Commission said during a political forum at North Oconee High School on June 14 that districts were created to better encourage regional economic development.
"Some [districts] have as many as 17 counties, some are smaller than ours, but the whole state is covered," Dove said. "The one thing that's very important when you consider this particular referendum is that money raised in a particular district stays in that district. The money that would be raised by a successful referendum would not be sent to Atlanta or Valdosta or Savannah or Brunswick or any of those places."
If passed, 75 percent of the monies raised would go towards regional projects and 25 percent would go back to local communities to fund other transportation needs. The referendum is expected to raise nearly $1 billion statewide if passed in all districts.
"[Regional projects] could be anything from interchanges on the interstate, to improvement on state routes," Dove said. "It could be used on aviation projects, freight logistics. Any viable transportation project included in the legislation would be eligible. Twenty-five percent would come back to the local government. They could use that for signalization, widening, fixing pot holes, putting up stop signs, whatever needs to be done at the local level."
Projects for each district were created by a regional roundtable made up of county commissioners and municipal representatives, Dove said. Prior to October 2011, each roundtable was required to submit several potential projects for their region. The Northeast Georgia Roundtable's proposals include 70 projects, seven of which are being considered for Oconee County.
Proposals under consideration for Oconee include improvements to Daniel Bridge Road, center turn lane creation and shoulder widening on Jimmy Daniel Road, stages 1 to 3 improvements on Mars Hill Road and improvements to the State Route 316 Oconee Connector interchange. Oconee residents may see some projects, such as the one on Daniel Bridge Road and the first phase of the Mars Hill Road project, completed by 2015.
Dove explained the projects under consideration were narrowed down by the Department of Transportation after the roundtables sent in their initial proposals.
"There were some projects they wanted to see considered that [the Georgia Department of Transportation] added to the original list," Dove said. "There were some that they said 'We can do better if we spend X amount of money from a federal source or a state source.'"
Dove said it's important for voters to remember that while districts can opt out of the TSPLOST, individual counties cannot.
"For example, if Greene County said 'We don’t want to benefit from a one-cent sales tax. We don’t want to be part of this referendum,' it’s not the case," he said. "It would be a regional referendum. Each of the 12 counties would be included."
The referendum will appear on the July 31 primary ballot. Citizens can learn more by visiting www.t-splost.com.
You may also be interested in reading:
- Oconee County Chamber of Commerce Endorses TSPLOST
- Oconee County Citizen Committee Edges Toward Endorsement of Transportation Tax Referendum
- Are You Ready For Some TSPLOST?
- So Where Do You Stand on TSPLOST?
- Few Advocates for T-SPLOST Vote in August Coming Forward in Oconee County
- Georgia Department of Transportation Approves Majority of Oconee County T-SPLOST Proposals
- Leaders, Citizens Discuss Proposed TSPLOST Projects