T-SPLOST Concerns Addressed At DECA Meeting

DECA neighborhood meeting focuses on upcoming T-SPLOST vote with guest speaker Jim Durrett.

Jim Durrett, executive director of the , addressed concerns and offered explanations about the upcoming T-SPLOST vote at the quarterly meeting Thursday evening.

T-SPLOST, ($7.2 billion in present dollars) over the next 10 years, is a highly debated tax that will be decided by voters in 10 metro counties and the city of Atlanta.

The sales and use tax excludes fuels of all kinds and any amount over $5,000 spent on an automotive vehicle, would be in place from January 2013 until December 2022 or until the funding level is met, whichever comes first. The law can not be extended beyond 10 years unless approved by voters.

'It's written into the law that this tax will end. The only way it will continue is if the legislature comes back to you and says do you want to do this again?" Durrett told the crowd.  "No politician can change their mind about anything there."

Durrett discussed the tax in detail, explaining that $6.1 billion of the tax can only be used on a specific project list that was approved by a Regional Roundtable composed of 21 representatives from the 10 counties and various cities in late 2011.

The remaining 15% of the taxes will be allocated to each county or city and can be spent on existing airports, bike lanes, bridges, bus and rail mass transit systems.

The projects have been divided into three groups, staggering them based on 'shovel readiness' and how construction on one will affect construction on another.

Durrett stressed the average tax burden over the course of the 10-year tax would be $111 per person per year, with businesses making up 35% of the tax, residents covering 58% and visitors accounting for 7%.

While voters will be at the polls in their local jurisdictions the decision will be made by the majority results from the entire region, making this an all or nothing law for the region.

When pressed about what would happen should T-SPLOST not pass on July 31, Durrett was reluctant to give his opinion, but did explain that currently when DeKalb County gets a grant from GDOT for a transportation project DeKalb has to match it 20%. If T-SPLOST is passed that matching rate will be reduced to 10%, but if it isn't passed every local government will have to make a 30% match.

"It means we will be building even less tomorrow than we are building today," Durrett explained. "What we are learning in this country right now is the traditional way of funding transportation projects is broken, and we need to come up with other ways of funding these projects."

If T-SPLOST does not meet a majority vote then by law the legislature can't come back to voters for a two-year period with another proposal.

"We need to be putting in place transportation options for the workplace of today and tomorrow. We have stagnated much more so than other metropolitan areas," said Durrett.

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Eddie E. July 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
The only fully funded 'transportation options' in the bill are paving projects. Another place to VOTE NO on July 31.
Jordan Fox July 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Great presentation by Jim Durrett at last night's DECA meeting! Other metro areas like Charlotte, NC are passing us by as Metro Atlanta's traffic gets worse. It's making it tough for us to attract new businesses to the region and keep the ones we have. It's also hurting our quality of life. The state, nation and even parts of the world are watching to see how we act on this. The list of projects is far from perfect, but it is 1000 times better than doing nothing! Please do your research on http://transformmetroatlanta.com/ and VOTE YES for the transportation referendum!!
Jim Durrett July 20, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Sorry, Eddie. You have been misinformed.
Eddie E. July 20, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Jim, Really? IF the tsplost passed, how much money is GUARANTEED to the Clifton Corridor MARTA spur? When would ground break? How long would it take to complete and would it fall within the 10 window of the TSPLOST? I didn't think so.
Eddie E. July 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Jordan, One can hope that when this fails (and the other counties in the 'region' guarantee that no matter how Dekalb votes) that the geniuses under the Gold Dome will take a good look at Plan B and do the following. 1-Double the motor fuel tax with provisions to keep paving money in the area it is generated. 2-Dedicate a portion of motor fuel taxes to inter-city rail construction. 3-Permanently allow MARTA full access to ALL THEIR FUNDS (no matter what excuse the MARTOC chair makes). I realize it will take massive efforts to overcome the disastrous traffic patterns wrought by generations of ill conceived development in the auslands, but paying for more pavement is certainly not a 'solution'.
Dave Walker July 20, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Jim Durrett, who has never been anything but a sock puppet in his so-called "career", broke the law by publicly advocating in favor of the referendum. He should be arrested and put in jail immediately.
Dave Walker July 20, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Vote NO. This is a scam. Durrett is a mindless sock puppet who cannot get a real job in the private sector.
Catherine S July 20, 2012 at 07:21 PM
"If T-SPLOST does not meet a majority vote then by law the legislature can't come back to voters for a two-year period with another proposal." The wording of the sentence above is confusing to the point of being misleading. TIA 2010 allows for the legislature to put this in front of the voters again in two years. Please visit TraffictTruth.net, "Like" TrafficTruth on Facebook, and follow @TrafficTruth on Twitter.
Andrea Botham July 20, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Catherine - I am not entirely sure what the difference is between what was written and what you posted. The legislature can not put this in front of voters again in the next 2 years. After that period they can, which is the same as what you said, that legislature can put this in front of the voters again in two years. Apologies that you found this confusing/misleading.
Robert H. July 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Dang! Who peed in Dave's Cheerios? Do you have a real point or do you just want to act like a child?
Robert H. July 20, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Increasing the motor fuel tax is only a temporary solution. As cars become more fuel efficient, you'll have to continue to raise the tax to maintain the same level of funding. What you will likely see is reliance on tolls to fund roads and transit projects. Sounds awesome!
Eddie E. July 21, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Robert, So keep raising the motor fuel tax. In the meantime, adjusting a tax to meet the need (a tax that has not been adjusted in 40 years) while keeping the proceeds where they are generated would solve ALL the paving needs. No need for a bogus 'transportation sales tax'. With the paving taken care of, a legitimate discussion of inter-city rail and realistic expansion of MARTA can commence. Expanding real, traffic solving transit (as exists or is being constructed in modern cities around America) would require a dedicated source of revenue based on an established budget rather than a 10 year giveaway to the paving industry. Such a plan would require mature evaluation from the exurbs but it should be obvious to everyone involved that METRO ATLANTA is a collective enterprise.


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