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 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.”