Does the T in T-SPLOST stand for “Trouble” in Columbus?

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has expressed some misgivings about the regional TSPLOST in which her city will vote.

“I wouldn’t want to tax the citizens of this county unless it was absolutely necessary in addition to what they already pay, so I’m sure it’s going to be a hard sell. That’s why you see all the elected officials proceeding so carefully,” said Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

Mayor Tomlinson said there are eight transportation projects on the regional list for Muscogee County that would get funding through the TSPLOST but she’s been getting different estimates on the return of our possible tax investment.

“I’ve heard everything from Muscogee County would contribute 65 to maybe 70 percent of that money and only get back 52 percent of it so there is the possibility there is a wide disparity that money we collected here was not staying here,” said Mayor Tomlinson.

Tomlinson neither supports the measure, but she continues to raise the question of whether her area becomes a donor to other counties under TSPLOST.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said she is neither a supporter nor opponent of the TSPLOST. She said she has questions that need to be answered before she can take a position.

“Muscogee is paying disproportionately. Counties like Crisp and Randolph are receiving disproportionately,” she said. “Fine, but what are we getting in return for the investment in Crisp and Randolph?”

As is the case in Atlanta, the local Chambers of Commerce are pushing for a Yes vote.

Colin Martin, the local chamber’s vice president for governmental affairs, is leading its campaign to pass the tax. He said he faces a challenge to make people understand how spending in one county can benefit taxpayers in another.

“We’re trying to educate the voter so they can make an informed decision,” Martin said. “I live in Muscogee, but every one of us work with people who live in Harris, Talbot and Chattahoochee and Marion Counties. Better roads benefit those folks, getting to and from work and getting to and from their home to shop in Columbus. That’s a benefit for Columbus.”

Martin notes that some of the projects will have a large regional impact, even though the actual project is located in another county:

Martin offered the spending in Crisp County as an example of Muscogee benefiting from spending that far away.

“The Crisp County project is a bigger picture project because of the Inland Port going in there,” Martin said. “Businesses in Columbus will be shipping goods there and receiving goods from there. So having a good road between here and Cordele is a positive thing.”

The Cordele inland port will be a shipping hub that will be connected to the Savannah port by rail, allowing goods to be shipped by rail in containers that can then be placed on trucks for distribution. Conversely, containers can be trucked to Cordele for rail shipping to the port in Savannah.

Finally, in the background is open opposition from some Tea Party activists:

So far, the most vocal opponent of the tax plan has been the Tea Party, which sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal to protest the proposal, calling it the largest tax hike in state history. The letter not only denounced the tax, but reminded Deal that their support depends on an anti-tax stance.

“The hard-working base that made every primary election vote count needs the leadership we were promised,” the letter reads. “Thus far, we have found little to cheer about with the (transportation tax) and the elected officials who support it.”

13 comments

  1. CobbGOPer says:

    According to today’s Political Insider, there’s open opposition in the foreground at the Capitol: Ed Setzler, Rich Golick, and Matt Ramsey are pushing a bill that will postpone the July TSPLOST vote for two years.

      • Scott65 says:

        So, they want to delay the vote cause they didn’t get 100% of what they wanted, Chip Rogers wants to define broadband in GA as 200kbs (thats kiloBITS) which is slightly less than 4 times dial up, and as I read it in the AJC there is a fight brewing over removing old timber from the bottom of rivers…people where do we live??? Mississippi is looking like a bastion of progress compared to us. I guess someone just needs to slide these guys a quick $500 to do whats right…its really sickening

        • Charlie says:

          Actually, the deadhead logging bill is one of the most obscure bills, but has one of the most interesting backgrounds with an actual strategy that matters. I’ll try to work that into the column rotation to explain.

          As for your bastion of progress in Mississippi, they had a Democratic member of their legislature drop a bill today to rename the Gulf of Mexico the Gulf of America. I predict if Phil Kent doesn’t learn he’s a Democrat, this dude is on track for “winner of the week”.

  2. NoTeabagging says:

    The note about the Tea Party letter strikes me odd, since this tax is something to be approved by voters. I could understand their dismay at a tax legislated by the state and signed by Deal as a contradiction of a promise. I cannot see how they can whine about a tax (if) approved by ‘the people’.

    • Engineer says:

      They see it as a contradiction of a promise because if approved by the voters, it would technically be a tax increase, which Deal has said he is against. The truth of the matter is the Tea Party folks don’t want be forced to argue against the will of the voters if they approve T-SPLOST.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        Unless there has been polling I haven’t seen, I don’t think the TP folks will have to argue against the will of the voters.

        And yes, Deal said he’s against tax increases. That’s why these losers pawned the vote off on us, the taxpayers. That way they don’t get the blame – whichever way the vote goes they get to say “Don’t blame me, YOU voted for it.”

  3. CobbGOPer says:

    “After all, how dare those politicians give people the opportunity to decide for themselves on a tax.”

    That’s not my point. We elected these people to handle these issues, not turn them back on us to decide while they go off to Hal’s to get drunk on lobbyist liquor. We’re busy working and feeding our families. If they’re just going to take every important decision and turf it back to the taxpayers to decide, then why are we paying these people to legislate?

    • Engineer says:

      The thing is, you are asking them to legislate regional issues. Think about it, would you prefer a mandatory state-wide T-SPLOST, or would you prefer a regional one that is decided by the people of that region?

  4. finch4040 says:

    What the Chamber won’t tell you is that you and I will be paying for the frills they want in Atlanta – like the ridiculous street car. Nor will they tell you about how government will grow as the government-owned MARTA system will need to hire more maintenance workers, bus drivers and office staff. TAX INCREASES AND BIGGER GOVERNMENT – who would have thought the Republicans are pushing this!!!
    Every county has the authority to vote themselves a one cent tax and take care of their own road advancement projects. There is no need to ask residents in Muscogee County to pay for a park in Atlanta or a street car on Peachtree Street. Let the businesses in Atlanta pay for these “goodies” and not those of us who have no interest or desire to spend time in Atlanta.

    I spoke with members of the Atlanta Beltway recently. Their marketing poly is to tell you that this new transportation plan will create 100,000 jobs – but they can’t tell you what they are. They will warn you that if you don’t approve the plan, our air quality will suffer, to which I asked, “if you add 100,000 more workers to the metro area, won’t that impact air quality?” Another marketing ploy – ‘You should support this because other people will ride buses (yes, they are pushing those nasty buses) and that gets cars off the street.” Didn’t MARTA have to cancel routes last year and raise fares because there weren’t enough people riding those routes?
    Well, let those who ride the buses pay for them and not me. I have a car payment and car insurance to pay. Neither of those goes away if I ride a bus. It takes longer to ride a bus than it does to drive, especially if you have to change buses two, three, four times, walking in the rain from the bus to the open-air bus stops, carrying your computer in bad weather and standing around waiting for the next bus. This is not New York City and we shouldn’t want to be New York City.

    The transportation plan as presented WILL NOT alleviate congestion. It will make is worse because of the increased amount of buses that stop every quarter of a mile on these two-lane roads. Rather than sitting in traffic due to volume, you’ll be sitting behind a stinking bus bellowing out fumes for you to inhale. Talk about air quality.
    We all want transportation relief – but what is being proposed is nothing more than a jobs program.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      The Atlanta Region does need more multimodal transportation options across-the-board from more (well-placed and well-thought out) train and bus service to numerous improvements to our surface road and expressway network, but I do STRONGLY agree that those who ride the buses and trains should pay for them through the use of something called USER FEES.

      I also agree that the T-SPLOST effort appears to be more of a jobs program for real estate developers and special interests than an actual congestion relief program.

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