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Pros and cons for regional transportation tax

File Photo - Afternoon traffic flows on Interstate 85 near the Beaver Ruin Road exit.

File Photo - Afternoon traffic flows on Interstate 85 near the Beaver Ruin Road exit.

ELECTION CENTRAL

Visit our special election section for complete coverage of the 2012 primaries, HERE.

The hottest item on the ballot this summer isn't a county commission race or even a congressional battle.

Instead, much of the political banter has centered on a transportation referendum with the potential to fund $8.5 billion in road and transit projects in the 10-county metropolitan Atlanta region.

The hotly contested referendum, which is on July 31 ballots, would add a 1 percent sales tax to goods, similar to the special purpose local option sales tax, which Gwinnett voters have embraced in the past. The tax would last 10 years. The vote is tied to a list of regional projects for all 10 counties and must be passed by a majority of the entire region.

With advanced voting beginning Monday, here is a look at the facts, as well as the pros and cons of the tax, as described by two local leaders.

The pro arguments were written by Michael Sullivan, an attorney from Lilburn, who serves on the board of directors and as treasurer of Citizens for Transportation Mobility. The con arguments were written by Debbie Dooley, a Dacula woman who is co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, the largest tea party in Georgia and is on the board of directors as treasurer of Tea Party Patriots.

Why is this tax better than raising money another way?

FACTS: With Georgia ranked 49th in transportation spending, legislators have debated a new funding source for years.

In 2010, a compromise was struck with the Transportation Investment Act. Instead of a statewide tax, Georgia was divided into 12 districts, each of which will hold a transportation special purpose local option sales tax referendum.

According to the legislation, a regional roundtable was formed for Atlanta, with Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson serving as chairman and Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash as a member. The roundtable unanimously approved a list of regional projects.

PRO: Like the FairTax, this sales tax is a consumption tax, meaning that visitors, tourists and even those just passing through the region will contribute to fixing our congestion problems. Some estimates indicate that upwards of $600 million of the revenue generated in the Atlanta region will come from folks outside the region.

CON: We currently pay for a lot of our major transportation projects through the state and federal gas tax, essentially a sales tax on gas. However, the biggest problem with the Transportation Investment Act, or T-SPLOST, is the horrible selection of projects consisting of mass transit and economic development projects for city of Atlanta, neither of which relieve traffic congestion, the reason T-SPLOST was created. This bait-and-switch game of promising traffic congestion relief and then stacking the project list with nonsense projects like the Atlanta Beltline and big trains into Cobb County isn't going to receive positive support from the voters.

Will it actually improve traffic?

FACTS: According to an Atlanta Regional Commission analysis of the T-SPLOST project list, the work is expected to mean a 24 percent average decrease in future travel delays, and increase daily transit trips from 417,000 today to 580,000 in 2025.

The Ga. Highway 20 widening through Sugar Hill would decrease traffic by 27.1 percent, compared to 2010, the report said, and the widening of Five Forks Trickum Road would decrease traffic by 21.7 percent. The entire report is at atlantaregionalroundtable.com.

PRO: Absolutely. Traffic projections are that it will reduce congestion by about 24 percent in the heavy traffic corridors where projects will be built. Improving intersections like I-85/I-285 and I-85/Ga. 400 will certainly improve traffic. Making Ga. Highway 316 a limited access highway all the way from Athens to I-85 would make a dramatic improvement as well. Of course, we have more than $30 billion in identified transportation needs in the Metro Atlanta area, so this will not be a magic bullet to fix all congestion in the entire region. But if you look at the project list, our major bottlenecks are being addressed and some badly needed projects in Gwinnett will finally be funded.

CON: There are some road projects on the list that will have measurable effects on traffic like the Ga. 400 and I-85 interchange. Nevertheless, you have to ask is it worth wasting nearly $4 billion dollars of what we consider insignificant and pointless special interests projects to get $3 billion worth of effective projects. There is $95 million in the project list for a study in northern Gwinnett for a rail project that is not scheduled to begin work until 2040. Projects like this are rife with the potential for corruption by the ability to hand out money to political cronies. Imagine what we could do to improve our vital road network with the billions wasted on special interest projects. We need to force our elected officials to bring on a better, more useful list of projects in two years, according to HB 277, which will help the commute of the average man and woman in Gwinnett.

I heard it could improve the economy. How?

FACTS: The ARC's analysis of the economic impact of the tax, which said the region will receive more than $34 billion in gross regional product by 2040 for $8 billion in projects, has lead the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to become a big player in the campaign to approve the tax.

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has also endorsed the referendum, with Jann Moore, the local Chamber's vice president of public policy, saying "It's very unusual for a chamber of commerce to endorse a tax increase, but with a four-to-one return on our investment, we know how important this is."

In addition to adding jobs, the report said traffic relief would bring an estimated $9.2 billion in savings to consumers on travel costs, fuel and other congestion expenses.

PRO: We know that companies looking to expand or relocate here view our traffic problems as a negative. Traffic affects their employees' quality of life, frustrates their ability to ship goods into, out of and around the region and it makes their potential employment circle (the area from which they can reasonably expect employees to commute to work) very small. We also know that other cities are using our traffic against us to try to get those companies to locate there instead. They say that "not only is Atlanta traffic bad but they also don't have a plan to fix it." On July 31st we have an opportunity to change that and provide a critical selling point when we try to land the next NCR-type project that comes along. We also get the immediate boost of putting construction workers, engineers, surveyors, project managers and many other types of employees to work building these projects. The Atlanta Regional Commission estimates that a total of 200,000 jobs will be created or supported through construction of the 157 projects on the list.

CON: Again, the T-SPLOST was created to relieve our annoying traffic congestion, not for inventing economic development projects with no traffic benefits in the city of Atlanta and elsewhere. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is trying to paint a "crisis" picture, but I have to agree with Mercer University Economics Professor Roger Tutterow who said their "'crisis' is an exaggeration."

The truth is a March 2012 Arizona State University study claimed Atlanta is second only to Houston in job growth based on numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, unemployment has improved to its lowest count since January of 2009 according to the Georgia Labor Department. On the other hand, having to pay billions and billions of dollars for future operations and maintenance costs of an expanded mass transit system that is used by less than five percent of all commuters will be an enormous drain on our regional economy.

Are there projects in Gwinnett that could help me?

FACTS: In addition to the regional projects approved for the county, each local government will receive a share of 15 percent of the tax proceeds. The expected amount given for local projects in Gwinnett includes:

Gwinnett (unincorporated) $133,550,440

Auburn $10,550

Berkeley Lake $405,080

Buford $4,773,820

Dacula $1,489,560

Duluth $4,933,900

Grayson $756,030

Lawrenceville $6,395,000

Lilburn $2,876,850

Loganville $124,940

Norcross $2,109,920

Peachtree Corners $9,086,090

Rest Haven $78,050

Snellville $4,252,300

Sugar Hill $3,884,700

Suwanee $3,547,290

PRO: Have you ever been stuck at a red light on 316? How about sitting in traffic around the Mall of Georgia? Ever wish there were additional lanes on Ga. 20 between I-985 and Cumming? Or how about the intersection of Scenic Highway (Ga. 124) and U.S. 78? There are frankly too many Gwinnett projects to mention in this space, in addition to all the regional projects that will address bottlenecks such as the I-85/I-285 interchange, the I-285/GA 400 interchange, and others that frustrate Gwinnett commuters every day.

CON: Let's put it this way, Gwinnett County has already been building road project after road project over the years using local SPLOST funds, so why not keep our local taxes under our control and continue to build what we want to solve our problems. Use our funds for our projects, not MARTA or the Atlanta Beltline.

Why should I agree to send my tax money to Atlanta for projects there? Is my county getting its fair share?

FACTS: According to ARC stats, Gwinnett is expected to generate about $1.512 billion in the 10 years the tax would be collected. On the regional project list, $837.4 million was set aside for projects in Gwinnett. Another $178,274,520 would be given to local governments for the road projects of their choosing.

Some proponents say Gwinnett commuters will also benefit from the $450 million reconstruction of I-285/Ga. 400 and the $53 million project at I-285/I-85, just outside of the county, as well as regional transit projects.

PRO:Our traffic problems are regional and require regional solutions. However, one look at the project list and it's obvious that the projects in Gwinnett address many of the long-standing traffic issues that we have been complaining about for years. And when you add on top of that all of the regional projects that are outside of Gwinnett's borders but which affect Gwinnett commuters, such as I-85/I-285 (Spaghetti Junction which is actually in DeKalb), our commuters are definitely getting more than their fair share of the benefits from the referendum.

CON: Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank, conducted a study of the T-SPLOST called Getting Georgia Going and found that, "Gwinnett has 20 percent of the population [of metro Atlanta] but would receive only 14 percent of the funds." The study also found, "Only 425,000 residents live in the city of Atlanta [10 percent of the region's population]." But "Atlanta would receive 27 percent of all the region's funding."

The Atlanta Beltline, a project to restore in-town neighborhoods and re-develop blighted areas, will get $609 million by itself.

Why is Gwinnett paying the tab? I don't ride transit. Why should I pay a tax for it?

FACTS: The regional transportation project list includes $40 million in funding for the Gwinnett Transit system, which would be used to operate the county bus system. That means that county tax dollars currently going to the system could be freed up for other uses.

PRO:Transit is not for everyone, but every transit rider represents a car taken off our roads. More than 400,000 trips are taken on transit every day in our region, so imagine that many additional cars on our already congested highways. What if we could expand that to take even more cars off our roads? Metro Atlanta is projected to add 3 million more residents by 2030 and we need to create a balanced transportation system that provides people with options. Even if you hardly ever (a trip to the Airport or going to a game at the Georgia Dome) or maybe even never use one of those options yourself, you still benefit from the options being available for others.

CON: You shouldn't pay for MARTA. Federal grants for mass transit come from the gas tax from cars and trucks. How come transit users pay no tax for usage and receive incredibly high subsidies from the gas tax? MARTA General Manager Beverly Scott said, "We have a $6 billion investment operating at 30 percent of its design capacity. Please, it would be great if we could figure out how to make MARTA our regional MARTA." We voted MARTA down in Gwinnett, so why do we have to pay for it now?

The Wall Street Journal reported, "Since 1982 government mass-transit subsidies have totaled $750 billion (in today's dollars), yet the share of travelers using transit has fallen by nearly one-third ... Federal data indicate that in 2010 in most major cities more people walked to work or telecommuted than used public transit." We shouldn't pay for MARTA with its falling ridership.

Is it true that I could still have to pay the tax even if voters in Gwinnett say no?

FACTS: This is the yes or no special election referendum question as it will appear on the July 31 ballot:

Atlanta Regional District T-SPLOST

Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight

Shall Gwinnett County's transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be improved by providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax for the purpose of transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years.

PRO: This is a regional vote, so the votes from all 10 counties in the region will be added together. Either we pass it as a region, or it fails as a region.

CON: The sad reality is that if every registered voter in Gwinnett County voted "no" and a majority of the region voted in favor, we would be forced against our will to pay the tax anyway. The people of Gwinnett should control the destiny of our county and not the rest of the region. If you don't want to have to submit to the control of yet another layer of government bureaucracy, meaning regional government, then get to the polls and vote "no." The majority in our county should decide what happens with our tax dollars.

How can I be sure my tax money will be spent the way it was intended?

FACTS: As described in the legislation, a five-member oversight committee would be picked by the governor and lieutenant governor, tasked with an annual audit of the projects, which will be released to the public.

PRO: This is the most transparent and accountable expenditure of tax money that our region will ever see. The project list is there is for every voter to see and that list cannot be changed. The tax expires after 10 years by law and cannot be renewed without another vote by the people. Plus, there is a citizens advisory commission required by law to produce a yearly audit that reports on the progress of the projects and how the money is being spent. The legislature took great pains to develop a process that is more open and transparent than virtually any other program you will find.

CON: The same state government who appoints the authority members controlling the Ga. 400 Toll System says we should trust them now and believe that the special people they appoint will look out for us, will ensure fairness. It didn't work for the Ga. 400 tolls and I think State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers was correct when he said on local radio, "Don't trust government."

What if we build all these projects and the tax runs out in 10 years? How will the roads and transit be maintained and who will bear the operating costs?

PRO: For the transit projects, there are 10 years of maintenance and operations funds from the date they are opened included in the referendum budget, providing an opportunity for operating costs beyond that window to begin to be factored into the revenue and budget plans for the respective agencies. This is functionally no different than the way local SPLOST transportation projects or Georgia DOT projects are built with capital funds and then the operating costs of operations and maintenance for those projects become part of the Gwinnett DOT or Georgia DOT budget. The important point is that this tax expires in 10 years and cannot be renewed without another vote by the people.

CON: Excellent questions and the state and regional leaders don't have an answer. Our Gwinnett County Chairman, Charlotte Nash, raised the issue of a second phase of the T-SPLOST sales tax at a meeting of the roundtable's executive committee. According to the Saporta Report, Nash asked, "What if the next phase is not passed?" She continued, "The bottom line question, or one of the bottom line questions, is: Where will those costs be covered if there's not a regional SPLOST for the next 10-year period?"

There is no good answer and that is the primary reason we should run to the polls to vote "no." Imagine the tax increases that will follow to cover the enormous costs to finish and operate the transit projects after the first 10-year tax period is over! This will certainly kill our local economy with more of our dollars pouring into funding transit operations and maintenance instead of purchasing goods and services from Gwinnett County businesses.

If this doesn't pass, is there a 'plan B'?

FACTS: In a 2010 study, the ARC analyzed various methods of transportation funding, from toll roads to raising gas or property taxes, to parking fees. The full report is available at: www.metroatlantatransportationreferendum.com/documents/bridging_the_gap.pdf

PRO: Theoretically, there are other alternatives. For example, you could raise the gas tax, driving up gas prices for Gwinnett commuters who already drive further than the average Metro Atlanta commuter. Estimates are that the gas tax would have to be raised by about 25 cents per gallon to generate the same amount that would be generated by this referendum. Some opponents to this plan also favor more toll roads, which has been politically unpopular with Gwinnettians when proposed in the past. Obviously many of these "other options" would meet significant criticism and opposition. However, the reality is that if this referendum fails to pass, it will be extremely unlikely that our elected officials will have the political will to take another shot at creating a new source of transportation funding anytime soon. And our competitor cities will have even more time to use our traffic against us.

CON: We have a multitude of options we can implement which are more useful and cost-effective. The next plan should do what T-SPLOST doesn't do, including creating a cost-benefit analysis on each project, project how operations and maintenance will be paid and keeping the autonomy of each county so that we control our own density.

I like Sen. Chip Rogers' idea of having separate referendums on mass transit and roads. We should not let highly expensive and woefully unproductive mass transit projects prevent us making significant improvements to our road network. Let the mass transit stand up to voter scrutiny on its own.

Comments

kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

Isn't it strange that mostly politicians are FOR this tax? Of course, they get to make us tax ourselves so they can blame us for the fiasco in 10 yrs because traffic did NOT decrease. This is all just politicians dying to get re-elected on the grounds "I didn't vote for a tax on you." "We the people" have sure become stupid voters if they pass this law. Instead, let them raise the state property taxes and gas taxes instead. Then THEY will be held accountable for these lousy projects that appear to have not much to do with traffic issues at all. TO add insult t us, none of these projects are even ready to start. What ever happened to the REAL traffic changer, the I-75 to I85 connector in the north? Now that would help us move around better than any other project on the drawing board. Besides, all these projects are for the benefit of the city of Atlanta, which can't seem to run anything within a budget and can't figure out priorities from a hole in the wall.

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BurritoJones 2 years, 2 months ago

As a property owner, I would much rather absorb a 1% sales tax increase than another hefty tax bill showing up in my mailbox.

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

Actually, in Gwinnett, you would be absorbing 16.5% increase in the sales tax (6% to 7%).

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BurritoJones 2 years, 2 months ago

By that very same logic, my 2% pay raise last year and 3% raise this year actually means I received a 50% raise.

Except that would mean intentionally misdirecting the numbers to obscure the result. Stop that.

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

No, you received a 50% increase in the percentage of your raise; your total raise was not 50%.

Stating that the sales tax is increasing by 1% is intentionally misleading; if that were so the total sales tax would go from 6% to 6.06%.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

this is exactly what the politicians are banking on. People will not care about a little penney n the dollar for 10yrs and in the end, nothing was done to stop traffic. This is the real "con." We will still be back where we are today. They NEVER build or engineer roads at the outset for future traffic. It is always built with the idea of further down the line we will fix it again. The politicians are laughing at every single idiot that votes for this tax on themselves for the sole benefit of re-elections and developers. None of these projects are funded, shovel ready, and guaranteed to stop traffic issues. None.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

some people think throwing money at government will work wonders. It hasn't in the past 50 yrs. DO you really think it will in the next 10?

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pz1farm 2 years, 2 months ago

No matter how much you tax the citizen of Gwinnett to fix the roads and pay for the mismanaged funds in Atlanta and DeKalb, on any given day of the week a major wreck will happen and traffic is at a standstill, You can’t fix stupid, but the elected politicians think that if they move their lips, and create money for their friends in business traffic will flow. I moved to Gwinnett 30 years ago to get away from crime and Marta and to have a better education for my kids, the last one graduates in May 2013 it's time to move again. Traffic moves better now than it ever has in Gwinnett, I have 3 full size trucks and an expedition, I moved to Gwinnett knowing I would be in a lot of traffic and gas would cost me driving trucks, so be it, if my truck hits a Honda my family walks away. I tell my kids if a politician lips are moving then he or she is lying, stealing or putting funds in a friend’s bank account and the belt line want solve traffic problems.

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roaads1 2 years, 2 months ago

I will be voting for it. I believe the economy has slowed business and lowered our standard of living too. This tax will help us move forward instead of standing still or going backwards. Gwinnett has a great community and we enjoy one of the best lifestyles in Georgia. At some point that will cost us a little. This, I believe is that point. I never have voted for a tax increase until now. As long as we want a better life and not become like Dekalb or Clayton County we will have to be open for things like this. Simply saying no because it's more taxes would be short sighted. We need this.

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JohnGalt 2 years, 2 months ago

To quote a line from a movie that probably represents you well, "Are ya crazy...or just plain stupid?" LOL, "As long as we want a better life and not become like Dekalb or Clayton County...", we should vote for more taxes. Yeah, that has worked out so well for Dekalb now hasn't it? Maybe you need this. We don't need this.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Couldn't help but to notice that the knuckle dragging approach (mindless insult hurling) is prevelant among the NO crowd.

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NewsReader 2 years, 2 months ago

"...knuckle dragging approach..."? That is really RICH coming from you Cleanupguy! Really RICH!

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

there will ALWAYS be traffic around here. Roads are never built for the future but for the now. In 10yrs you will be screaming again because hardly any of these projects will solve traffic congestion. You will ALWAYS have traffic during rush hours. Where are the real projects you would be willing to pay for? A monorail along the interstates, the arc from I-75 to I-85, another loop, etc. You will be causing all citizens to pay 1 cent for nothing in return but lining the pockets of the politicians and developers. Period. Vote No like thousands others will be.

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citized 2 years, 2 months ago

Just as the toll for 400 went away and new "taxes" were added to 85. I see nothing but greed here. The only people who will be working are the construction companies whose pay is well above average. Oh yea lets not forget the "great politicians".

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Actually, no comparison to either of those. This one must be renewed by vote upon its expiration, whereas the others are controlled by legislators. Funds will be spent proportionally in the districts in which they were raised. Among the alternatives is a gas tax increase, the amount and spending of which is up to legislators. Easy was or hard way, it's up to us. The current political football "jobs" is not free - this could help with both that and traffic, but lately voters have been awfully shortsighted.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 2 months ago

@ Kevin-

{{"What ever happened to the REAL traffic changer, the I-75 to I85 connector in the north? Now that would help us move around better than any other project on the drawing board."}}

I assume that you are asking about the old proposed "Northern Arc" connector road between I-75 near Cartersville and GA 316 in Dacula?

Well, the Northern Arc was suspended by Governor Roy Barnes in 2002 after building public outrage during his failed re-election campaign which was as a result of the increasing public anger over the increasingly-unpopular road project.

After Roy Barnes was defeated in the 2002 General Election by Sonny Perdue, the Northern Arc was officially cancelled by Governor Sonny Perdue almost immediately after he took office in 2003 due to extreme pressure from a coalition of anti-road groups from across the political spectrum, like Inside-the-Perimeter neighborhood activists who argued that the exurban and suburban sprawl that the new road created would kill the City of Atlanta, environmentalist groups led by the Sierra Club who objected to the road running through the pristine heavily-wooded hills, mountains and lakes of the far-flung counties of the "Golden Crescent" between Lake Lanier in NE Metro Atlanta and Lake Allatoona in NW Metro Atlanta, and by wealthy landowners who lived and owned tracts of land in and along the proposed route of the road that are now full of heavy high-end residential development.

Heck, the State of Georgia just last week gave back to the Feds hundreds-of-millions of dollars in roadbuilding funds that were never used to build the road.

The fact that the road was extremely unpopular when it was an active proposal, that the road was officially cancelled by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2003, that the federal money that was going to be used to build the road has been given back to the Feds and that the proposed right-of-way of the road has since been filled with heavy high-end residential development occupied by some of the most politically influential and active voters in the state in Bartow, Cherokee and Forsyth counties means that the Northern Arc/Outer Perimeter as a whole is dead and it ain't coming back.

Though there is one part of the Northern Arc that survives, which is the part between Hwy 316 and Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Gwinnett in which the county preserved the right-of-way of the road keeping it free of development so that the proposed extension of Sugarloaf Parkway can be built from 316 up through I-85, I-985 and over to Buford Hwy as a locally-funded highway which actually appears in the proposed list of projects to be funded by the increasingly unpopular T-SPLOST referendum which appears that it is going to be defeated handily at the polls on July 31st by pretty much the same coalition of activists that helped defeat the T-SPLOST's ill-fated predecessor, the Northern Arc, 10 years before it in 2002.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

You said it right, the "proposed list." What about adding a monorail along all the interstates instead? None of these projects have out for bid. None are shovel ready and all are just proposed. None of the attached estimated costs are for real. This is a wish list that will not correct the traffic issues around her. Developers have spread everything about so much this traffic issue is here to stay. Businesses are actually still coming to the area despite traffic, because of the tax breaks we give to them at our expense. Because the real traffic fixes are NOT addressed or told truthfully to us, I, along with thousands of others, will vote NO for such a wish list. I have some wish lists also and they do not include US taxing ourselves for these stupid projects that will not solve the problem. If it passes, I can't wait to see the smile on the faces of all the politicians that feel their re-election will now be a slam-dunk. Are you one of the people that enjoys re-electing the same idiots over and over because this is our problem in Georgia. Getting to be like Chicago and Louisiana politics. Do you really want to be "first" in all the bad things?

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

I notice a lot of the FACTS in the article are attributed to the Atlanta Regional Commission.

I'm confident that a group consisting of business and political leaders would show absolutely no bias in the presentation of their FACTS.

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Sandykin 2 years, 2 months ago

My problem with this is that I don't trust this tax to not generate more tax. Cases in point: The HOV lane on I-85 that became an HOT lane and the GA 400 toll that did not go away when the road was paid off. What guarantee do we have that this tax wouldn't be used to fund projects that would turn into future sources of revenue again at our, the taxpayer, expense? I will not vote to raise my own taxes just so money can be raised for projects that will ultimately tax me even more.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

It certainly will. The counties will have discretionary money form this to do whatever else they want to do with this "traffic" money. DO taxpayers really want to trust these politicians and "groups" to do something in YOUR interest or theirs?

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WantingFacts 2 years, 2 months ago

Do Gwinnett County taxpayers know that their tax money is being given to the Gwinnett Chamber at a rate of about $1.5 million every year? The Gwinnett Chamber is lobbying hard for TSPLOST and county taxpayer's money is funding the organization that wants you to raise your taxes. Of course they want you to vote to raise your taxes! They also want your tax money to continue funding them year after year after year. We can't blame Charles Bannister, Kevin Kenerly or Shirley Lasseter for this. They are gone and taxpayer money is still being given to the Gwinnett Chamber, which is one of the organizations funding the campaign to promote TSPLOST.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

And that relates to this issue ...... how?

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WantingFacts 2 years, 2 months ago

Your tax money is paying a third of the operating costs of the Gwinnett Chamber, while they lobby for issues that a lot of us oppose. Should your tax money support an organization that is lobbying for a tax increase?

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Aside from blogging, what have you done to change that?

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CitizenY 2 years, 2 months ago

They'll never stop. They have the power to take our money, and it's become the justification for their existence. Even if we say NO they'll find a way to take everything that they can from us, to feed them and their fat families and their fat friends They know that there are so many of them, and so few of US now, that they can count on stupidity and idiocy for the balance of the vote. They've all spent the last year or two planning on how to spend this money that they will take, and they have justified their existence by using that year or two to plan how to spend this money that they will take from US.

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BurritoJones 2 years, 2 months ago

I'll vote for it. The sales tax increases back in the 90s earned us several severely needed schools in Gwinnett county. Our roads are a mess right now. Odds are the traffic improvements alone will save you more money in gas than you actually spend on the sales tax itself. And unlike the 400 tolls, this actually has a defined expiration date.

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

Does it have an expiration date? Where do you think the money required for the future maintenance of the projects will come from?

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BurritoJones 2 years, 2 months ago

"The tax expires after 10 years by law and cannot be renewed without another vote by the people."

Did you read the article?

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

Legislatively, yes it has an expiration date.

Realistically, do you believe it will completely disappear? The project list will most likely be uncompleted. The maintenance costs for these projects will have to come from somewhere. Perhaps from an M-SPLOST vote in ten years? A hike in gas taxes? Face it, we'll be paying for this a lot longer than ten years.

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BurritoJones 2 years, 2 months ago

Well let's by all means not vote on a piece of legislation based on what the legislation says. Let's vote on it based on your suspicions.

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

HISTORY plays no part in evaluating promises?

I’ll let my broker / accountant know.

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

I'd wager my suspicions are more grounded in reality than this piece of legislation.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

yes. You will still be taxed to maintain all the projects that get built. IF you have any smarts about politics, you would know that if the public will not vote for this a second time, the politicians will have no choice but to raise other taxes to maintain these roads and other "misc. non-transportation" projects as well. The money can be used for non-transportation projects as well if you real the whole Act. They only say what will sucker you in to vote for it. Did they teach you to read between the lines in school?

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

More taxes. These voters have become so stupid about politics.

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richtfan 2 years, 2 months ago

I would like to know exactly which tax or taxes will be reduced if this is passed. If you're going to hose the public by forcing it to pay another tax, then leadership needs to eliminate gas taxes in those counties where we're being forced to pay the extra tax. This needs to be a net zero cost.

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toby 2 years, 2 months ago

If we give politicians more money, they will want/take even more. Don't give these theives any more money period! We have to send a clear message that "We the People" are still in charge even if it means sitting in traffic. Traffic isn't bad until there's a wreck anyway. Build within your means DOT. If you have money, spend it on needed stuff. If you don't then you don't do it. Sounds easy to me.

"I am sick of these MF taxes in this MF state."

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

The do like the rest of us will do, vote against this trash. Watch all the road closures during the next 10 yrs also.

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dav 2 years, 2 months ago

They are like chidren at halloween, they will blow through the money like candy and have little to show for it and keep wanting more , until i can see that the money gets spent responsibly it remains NO

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howie1437 2 years, 2 months ago

I would like to see the Gwinnett Daily Post list all the Gwinnett candidates and where they stand on this issue.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

All the Suwanee Council is for it and I believe all the Gwinnett County BOC also. If someone dropped billions of free money in your lap to do what you want, would you tell them no? This is about developers and re-election of politicians. The will have only us to blame when it doesn't live up to the ideas they are selling to us. It won't solve a thing.

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Linda 2 years, 2 months ago

I will vote NO. I can see every day how helpful it was to go from HOV to HOTon I-85. what a joke. How many people travel via the Gwinnett Country Buses? When I see one it doesn't look like it's even half full. When building permits are issued developers, buliders should have to pay toward road improvements. Stop issuing building permits for apartments.

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CD 2 years, 2 months ago

The HOV conversions will occur regardless of T-Splost and are in the planning stages for Cobb and Cherokee. The real question is do you want to vote to tax yourselves knowing full well that the Gluttonous Heathens will do that for you anyway?

The world of a Gluttonous Heathen generally has no corners and is always plus-plus. No amount of money will be enough to satisfy their greed.

HOV fees are a tax and are no different than T-Splost in the bottom line.

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johnnyroastbeef 2 years, 2 months ago

Great debate and a very important issue!! I'm very torn. I was just introduced to this issue recently, and this is the most time I've spent on it. I despise politicians and their taxation to fund their idea of what's right for us. I can't stand the fact that I don't feel like I can trust anyone.

That being said, driving in the Atlanta Metro area traffic is out of control. I hear both sides and could lean towards either one. I live in Sugar Hill and have to use GA-20 nearly everyday of my life. It's hard to comprehend those that have lived here their whole lives have never figured this problem out?! Or vote in someone you feel will responsibly fix the problem. It HAS to be fixed!! This is a drain on ALL of us.

And then no outer loop? Seriously? My best friend lives in Acworth. I have to drive south, towards all the people and the city, take 285 across the top of the city, and then north again, with everyone else!! The ignorance of those in charge of these decisions, and their lack of action, should be arrested for incompetence!!

What is the solution then? This is mostly a "NO" driven comment section. What will fix these, "real" problems then? I can't believe some people have had the audacity to say there's no real problem, it's only wrecks. Some of these hot spots need to be addressed. How do we pay for it and who's in charge of it? And then we have to hold them accountable.

And yes, this theme of the working class paying for the dependent classes in the city, and their free transportation has gotta be old!! I don't like the idea of my money fixing the cheap transit of the 50% who don't contribute. It sounds like this tax could be a little more fair, being a consumption tax. At least everyone will be contributing?

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Amazing that no one appears to actually have read the proposal - sad that we have become so terribly ill informed.

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Don 2 years, 2 months ago

So a house senate leader decides not to support it due to the fact he feels that the plan has not been thought out and there are other ways to fund this and save money means nothing to the supporters of this?

What happens when we build these roads and add the streetcars in ten years when they all need maintenance? I know the politicians will tell us we need to extend the tax due to the poor condition of all the newly added roads. Once a tax has been placed into effect it typically stays in effect. Look at the Splost it keeps getting extended.

This TSplost has to many open ends in planning and not enough meat for me to vote for it.

Why do we need streatcars running a route that Marta busses already run from the World Congress Center to MLK center?

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Don, you're one of the people I was referring to above. This T-SPLOST comes with a statutory expiration date that can only be extended by another vote. The funds will be spent only in the districts in which they are raised. Only fully funded projects will be implemented. So many facts, so little interest in discovering them. The alternative is the gas tax, levied at will and completely controlled by politicians - take your choice. Either way, it's infrastructure and jobs, like it or not.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

a penny here, a penny there, when wil it ever end. We really are paying over 7-8% sales tax as it is. This has to stop. vote no.

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NewsReader 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm quite certain it will exceed the $2.3B (That's BILLIONS with a 'B'), in unfunded maintenance costs. Oh, and we need the Street Cars so we can be the old Nostalgic Atlanta we once were!

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Gwinnettsince1991 2 years, 2 months ago

Take a look at the CNBC report on the best states for Business. http://www.cnbc.com/id/46413845/

Georgia is ranked 9th overall and is rated as having the 3rd best Transportation and Infrastructure in the country.

This tax, much like the HOT lanes, is wasteful government pork

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Not exactly. Fifteen Georgia counties -- all in the metro Atlanta area -- made the U-S Census Bureau's top 100 counties with the longest commuting times. Thus the business community would love to move their goods / services and people a bit more easliy, but why let facts intrude.

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Gwinnettsince1991 2 years, 2 months ago

Cleanup guy- It is obvious you are for this. And in this country you are entitled to your opinion. I don't share it, but you can have it. What i take exception to are your comments which read like you are the only one who has the facts for this and you are smug and condescending to those who don't share your opinion. Again, that is your right but not very mature.

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NewsReader 2 years, 2 months ago

Nah Gwinnettsince1991, Cleanupguy is smug and condescending to EVERYONE because he is pompous and arrogant and thinks he is so much smarter than the rest of us and simply has the inability to distinguish the difference between fact and fiction, or opinion as the case may be.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

you will never be moving stuff during rush hour traffic. All the roads in the world won't solve that. Scattered development has been done the past 20 yrs and it is too late to fix that.

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

But the ARC has already publicly admitted that this project list will NOT really reduce commute times at all in the region so why are we doing this again?

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Don 2 years, 2 months ago

I fully understand that it has a ten year term and as the Gwinnett Splost it to has a term but keeps getting voted back in.

The funds will be distributed by a government agency and there is an administrative fee for doing this. I do not trust anything to do with the GA DOT. They were the ones who said the toll booths on 400 would come down and then they lobbied for money to complete some south GA projects from the tolls, and got it!

No look at this: RUDY BOWEN ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF STATE TRANSPORTATION BOARD.

Ever heard of any of the land deals in Gwinnett that he, his kids or son in law have been behind?

We have the fox guarding the chicken house!

Cleanupguy- why do we not let Bannister and Kennerly oversee this I bet we can get some great deals on the bids for projects. The GADOT is about as corrupt as the former BOC members in Gwinnett.

Can you please explain the house majority leader coming out against this?

I can not wait till the lawsuit gets into court on the wording of this on the ballot. It should be thrown out due to that.

The government is not to be in the bussiness of creating jobs so there is one misleading statement. I think there is some purple cool-aide for many to drink.

Vote NO on the T-Splost

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

You are absolutely right - transportation systems build and maintain themselves, just like they did after 1929. My bad. Ummm - incidentally, Bannister and Kenerly are gone, and it's spelled Kool-aid - looks like you have a preferred flavor - "distortion and misdirection". Hypocrite much? Let the politicians grab the gas tax, and to heck with the alternative that voters could have had control over. Cheers!

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

Here's an idea lets FIX that little problem with the gas tax first since its OUR money anyway, BEFORE we approve another yet another source of funds?

Or would that approach require too much effort?

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

Not one single politician has commented here. I smell rats in this tax. The money will be totally corrupt in spending. I am convinced of that. Way too many hands in this till.

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timbuktu 2 years, 2 months ago

penny tax will go to shoring up state worker pension funds

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Ashley 2 years, 2 months ago

This is robbing Gwinnett to pay Fulton's taxes. I am voting NO!

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TiredTaxPayer 2 years, 2 months ago

Cleanupguy your rhetoric is refreshing and has some good points but if you had been watching the history of this area you would understand the frustration of the people about this new tax . Ga 400 was voted on to allow the toll to pay for the road with the stipend that when the road was finished it would no longer be a toll road (By Law) . I 85 was a federally funded Hwy that was paid for by taxes and is now a toll road partially . Our leaders whom we elected have committed Theft in order to continue their careers ., IE Joshua's law and the public safety training fund that were voted on by us the voting public and then robbed to pay for something else . We voted on the use of these funds for a purpose and were lied to . Explain these away and you will convince me . Until then I will not vote for any new tax and will work diligently to get the people out of Office who have committed these Thefts .

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DontTreadOnMe 2 years, 2 months ago

In Gwinnett alone, this next tax would increase sales tax from 6% to 7%, a 17% increase, hitting low and fixed income families hardest.

Fifteen percent of the revenue taken from our pockets would fund TWO transit projects – a $40M check to the county transit system and a $95M gift to “study” an I-85 light rail system for which construction would NOT START before 2040!

Another 15% of our tax money would provide an open traffic project slush fund for local politicians and bureaucrats.

NONE of these 22 projects have been evaluated for a cost-benefit; there is no proof that they will reduce traffic or add jobs. But it’s proponents WILL benefit mightily.

Gwinnett is representative of the rest of the state.

THERE ARE MANY, MANY ALTERNATIVES TO REDUCE TRAFFIC AND BRING IN JOBS. BUT NONE OF THEM WILL LINE CERTAIN PEOPLE’S POCKET LIKE A NEW TAX THEY CAN BLAME US FOR CREATING.

Georgia, you are being lied to – sold a bill of goods. That USED to be called fraud.

Visit TrafficTruth.net and learn why this tax MUST BE DEFEATED.

Then REMEMBER its supporters at their next election. And TAKE OUT THE TRASH.

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Hangdog 2 years, 2 months ago

Part of TSplost money will fund a new tower at Cobb's McCollum airport. That airport will also get new runway lighting. Just fantastic.

It isn't the money to me as much as I don't trust GaDOT, SRTA nor ARC. And all of the so called 'facts' I have read have quoted statistics generated by these three groups. They continue to lie to us over and over again...from the 400 toll to the theft of the HOV lane on 85.

No way do I vote for anything that puts them in charge of spending our money.

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FrankGoodman 2 years, 2 months ago

I will be voting against this tax because sales taxes are regressive, causing lower-income citizens to pay a disproportionately higher percentage of their incomes. If these projects are truly necessary for economic growth, then let the businesses and developers advocating them fund them. I might be convinced to rescind last year's property tax reduction or even to accept a negligible increase in my income tax if the case were made for certain transportation and transit projects, but as it stands, it doesn't matter to me what projects have been proposed and whether or not they will be effective because I simply will not vote for a sales tax increase.

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kevin 2 years, 2 months ago

The latest commercial to scare us int voting for it is that business doesn't want to come here because of the traffic. Give me a break! AN employer doesn't come to a state because workers don't have to sit in traffic. Every single large city has rush hour traffic. Atlanta is no exception. I guess some of these folks feel empowered when they take it upon themselves to tax others so a certain section of the market gets work and money in this economy. I won't tax myself to give money to more developers that juut tear up the place and you never see any easing of traffic. Look at all the the other GA DOT big road projects around. There will ALWAYS be traffic at certain times of the day. Giving money to all these politicians (most of you voted for them) and think they are going to spend it wisely is the biggest joke played on taxpayers. No to this terrible plan. Let the politicians vote on it so we can get rid of them. We will be voting for it again in 10yrs in order to maintain these "pet" projects that they put on the table to get re-elected. Do not re-elect and take your government back. When you re-elect, you give the power to the politician instead of to the people. What country do you all think you live in?

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Lanice 2 years, 2 months ago

JUST VOTE NO!!! I read an article recently and it said, "It's the wrong tax at the wrong time chasing the wrong solution!" I don't want my tax dollars paying for something that's really not going to benefit us in the long run. As I see it, there are a whole lot of politicans and developers (and their allies) who are financially backing the marketing campaigns. This spells special interest and smells like greed to me. If I thought the motives were pure, numbers were conservative and taxation time period accurate... I would reconsider; but, you and I know better. I might be from South Georgia, but I didnt' get here on the turnip truck!

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