TSPLOST In Northwest Georgia

Tim Omarzu over at the Chattanooga Times Free Press has an article in today’s paper about the TSPLOST and its impact for Walker and Catoosa Counties.  There is mixed reaction amongst the electeds on whether or not the tax would ultimately be beneficial.  Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell has outlined a plan to build out a corridor to I-24 in order for Walker County to have a more direct route to the Interstate system:

The proposed tax earmarks about $34 million for Walker County, and $20 million of that would go to widen Wilson Road from two to four lanes between Battlefield Parkway and the Tennessee line.

If Georgia voters OK the TSPLOST, Heiskell — who just announced she’s seeking a fourth four-year term — said she’ll go to Tennessee legislators and attempt to revive a plan for a new highway leading from the Central Avenue interchange on Interstate 24 through open land near Chattanooga Creek to connect with the widened Wilson Road.   With that road, traffic could bypass Rossville Boulevard, she said. A truck on I-24 could take the new highway to Battlefield Parkway, then head east to U.S. 27, the main north-south route in the county.

“It’s a long-range plan which never got off the ground — but it should,” Heiskell said. “Walker County is the county around here that doesn’t have an interstate. We’d like to correct that.”

The project would take about a decade to complete, she said.

There are a total of 10 projects on the list for TSPLOST funds in Walker County.  Next door in Catoosa County, Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Lynn Long is somewhat cool on the idea of raising sales taxes up to 8% when across the line in Tennessee the sales tax is 9.25% (some areas may be higher):

He also worries that, if Georgia’s sales tax goes up, Tennessee residents will have less reason to shop in North Georgia. The combined state and local sales tax ranges from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent in Tennessee, he said, while the combined sales tax in nearby Georgia cities is 7 percent, with the proposed 1-cent addition increasing that to 8 percent.

“You’re not talking a lot of difference,” he said. “If we lose those Tennessee residents coming across the state line, we’re in deep trouble.”

Catoosa County Commission Chairman Keith Greene has an opposing view point saying that sales taxes would still be lower than Tennessee’s.  Although that would be true, I don’t think I would count on too many people coming down to shop in Georgia with gas prices going higher and higher.  Also, Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax either.

I don’t recall seeing too many SPLOSTs being voted down at renewal time once they’re established.  Of course, they tend to be placed on the ballot at odd times when not too many voters are paying attention.  Isn’t this what should really tee-off the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party in Georgia as well as other citizens who are nickeled-and-dimed enough already?

5 comments

  1. saltycracker says:

    Is all the fuel tax accounted for and nothing left for projects the locals feel important ?

    In Cherokee Co. TSPLOST gets them 140 four laned & a bridge, something collected for in fuel taxes many times.

    Local leaders are politically bound to vocally support TSPLOST to avoid ARC/DOT reprecussions should the metro/state voters go for it, even if they (privately) vote against it.

  2. There’s no guarantee Tennessee would want to do this. It would essentially be sending vehicles off the interstate there to cross state lines and do business in another state, with little benefit for the Volunteer State or Chattanooga. Heiskell will HAVE to do her half of the I-24 link if TSPLOST passes, but Tennessee is under no obligation to do anything – so we could end up with an Interstate to Nowhere that goes from Chickamauga to a residential neighborhood south of Chattanooga where people will get lost and run over residents. Heiskell could have worked with Catoosa County to get GA 151 widened from I-75 to GA 136 instead and provide similar benefits to the county, without needing cooperation from another state – but it would benefit a part of the county she doesn’t care about.

    Without the 25% of TSPLOST money guaranteed for “general fund purposes” none of these commissioners or commissions would support this at all. Judging by the project list, a lot of places just slapped together something unworkable they could sell to voters in order to get the unrestricted funds.

    — LU

    • GTKay says:

      LU, Every project on the list was submitted by local county and city officials, evaluated for feasibility and other regional criteria, and then voted on by a round table from that region. This was a year-long tedious process that brought together local governments and included citizen input. The round table worked together to constuct and approve a list that would be widley beneficial to their area. Then the entire list was approved by an even larger commission of local officials. It was hardly slapped together.

      • Ms. Heiskell and Senator Mullis hardly bothered to asked what anybody here wanted. There was no “citizen input.” The projects approved by the “larger commission” were all construed to make the plan more appealing to Whitfield voters, because they’re the ones who will really decide if this happens or not. If everyone outside Whitfield votes against it (in this region) and they vote for it, it’ll happen – and vice-versa.

        — LU

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    Nothing says you’re a dimwit like driving an extra 10 miles round trip at $0.40 per mile and an additional one-half hour time to save $3 in sales tax on a $100 purchase.

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