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?