Hullinger: Deal To End 400 Tolls December 2013

Via Jeff Hullinger on Facebook:

Here at the State Capitol–11Alive has learned Governor Deal is taking down the Ga. 400 toll booths in December 2013.

Kudos to Governor Deal for fixing this broken promise.

More from 11Alive.com

ATLANTA — The GA 400 tolls will go away in December 2013, Governor Nathan Deal announced Thursday.

Deal officially announced during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol that the GA 400 tollbooths will be taken down next year.

“This is an important step in the right direction to keeping my promise,” Deal said, referring to his campaign pledge to take down the tollbooths.

The governor added that he hopes this move to keep his promise will renew the public’s trust in politicians.

UPDATE: A press release from Governor Deal.

Fulfilling his promise to commuters, Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that he will have the state pay off its bond debt on Dec. 1, 2013, and move rapidly after that to remove the Ga. 400 toll by the end of that year. This will stop collection four years earlier than previously planned.

“Ga. 400 commuters have paid more than their fair share already, and this is the earliest we can bring it down without paying a penalty for early repayment of the bonds,” Deal said. “When the Ga. 400 toll went up, the state of Georgia promised commuters that it wasn’t forever. If we don’t keep that promise, we lose the faith of the people. We face many challenges when it comes to paying for new capacity, particularly in the Atlanta region. There are no easy answers, no secret pots of money, but it is imperative that governments build the trust of their people. As your governor, I will keep the promises I make to you.”

The Ga. 400 toll was originally scheduled to come down after 20 years, ending in 2011. In 2010 – after then-candidate Deal promised to end the toll the following year – the state issued new bonds tied to the toll revenue in order to pay for needed improvements in the Ga. 400 corridor, including a new connector to I-85. The $40 million in new bonds were issued Dec. 1, 2010, and they mature June 1, 2017. But at the three-year mark the state can repay the bonds without a penalty. Further, the state needs time to plan for physically bringing down the gates and the dramatic restructuring that will be needed in the toll area.

“As I have said many times before: I inherited a situation where we could not bring down the gates immediately, and we face a situation where we would have to pay a penalty for early repayment,” Deal said. “This timeline gives commuters a finish line, while still allowing us to meet our obligations. Moving forward, we’ll need to continue to work on long-term solutions to congestion in the 400 corridor. And I look forward to doing that in a transparent fashion that commuters can trust.”

The governor’s proposal requires approval of the State Road and Tollway Authority.

120 comments

  1. Bridget says:

    “See?? You can trust with TSPLOST tax money. It won’t be an eternal tax. Look – we’re getting rid of 400 tolls, aren’t we??”

    Well played, sir. Well played.

  2. CobbGOPer says:

    “The governor added that he hopes this move to keep his promise will renew the public’s trust in politicians.”

    Wow. You owe me a new keyboard, Governor. My old one now has coffee all over it.

      • bgsmallz says:

        Buzz-

        My whole problem is that taking the tolls down was never a unilateral promise that the governor should make/have made. In his press release, he talks about the promise to commuters…that’s bull. The promise was to the city of Atlanta in a letter from the DOT to Mayor Andy Young. (Section 1(f) of a July 5, 1989, letter from the Georgia Department of Transportation to then-Mayor Andrew Young ..according to Politifact)

        We’ve turned this into a promise to north Fulton as low hanging fruit to appease those voters and/or to persuade those folks that promises can be kept on T-Splost. That’s almost as bad as the SRTA breaking the promise so that they could use the funds on whatever they wanted.

        Maybe I’m too pie in the sky…but I feel like there was a great opportunity for folks to (a) keep their promises and (b) show solidarity between state/suburbs/Atlanta on a regional transportation issue rather than just to appease north Fulton. The result would probably be the same, but the message would be much more powerful, in my opinion.

        Again, take it for what it’s worth…I’m a guy that doesn’t mind paying the toll as long as it keeps traffic lower and keeps the road nice.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          But it’s not the City of Atlanta that’s going to help Deal get through what is very likely to be a bruising GOP Primary in 2014, it’s those conservative suburban and exurban Republican voters that live in North Fulton and Forsyth counties that are going to help get passed what will most certainly be a very strong challenge from his political right over his support of a massive sales tax increase in the T-SPLOST.

          Having the support of GA 400 North and the I-75/I-575 NW Corridors that he lost to Handel in the 2010 GOP Primary will be even all the more crucial this time seeing as though Gwinnett County and the I-85 NE Corridor, which carried Governor Deal to a very narrow victory over Handel in the 2010 primary, is not necessarily all that likely to go his way this time over continued voter disillusionment over the very unpopular I-85 HOT Lanes.

          Hence the opening up of the shoulders to traffic on GA 400 and the taking down of the GA 400 toll as way of doing whatever he can to get the support of those GA 400 North Corridor voters that he will so desperately need to survive what will likely be a bruising 2014 GOP Primary.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              The only stats that I have access to so far are that the state takes an average of $59,000 per day from the Georgia 400 tolls which averages out to roughly $21,535,000 per year that is taken in from those tolls.
              http://www.georgiatolls.com/programs/ga-400/

              “The average weekday revenue collected at the toll plaza on GA 400 is approximately $59,000.00 per day. All tolls collected are used to pay down bond debt, operate and maintain the road, and assist in financing SRTA’s overall operations.”

              • John Konop says:

                TLD,

                With a strong revenue model like the toll, they could easily borrow money and invest into rail transportation. This would of given North Fulton and Fulton a major economic stimulus ie jobs, jobs, jobs while helping the traffic problem. I think they are being short sided by not reinvesting the money into infrastructure in my opinion.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  That’s a very good idea, the only problem is the political perception problem that might ensue within very conservative quarters in taking that toll road revenue and paying for rail transit with it.

                  As sensible of an idea as that might seem to be to many, if not most, one can guarantee that paying for rail transit with the revenues from what is already a very unpopular toll would go over really well within the conservative base of the GOP that is a dominant factor in the GA 400 North Corridor political landscape that Deal needs the support of to get through the primary and win re-election in 2014, a conservative base that is not necessarily all that hot on the idea of transit, especially rail transit.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      John, you are on the right track, but those increasingly unpopular tolls are gone and they are most likely not coming back and nor should they as taking down the tolls was part of the promise that was made by the government.

                      Heck, one could say that the state should not have made the promise to take down the tolls in the first place as they should have never made a promise that they did not want or intend to keep and instead should have just said that tolls are not only going to be the way to finance the initial construction of the road, but tolls are also going to be the way to finance the continuing operation and maintenance of the 400 corridor and they should have emphasized that the road would be paying itself without the use of the state gas tax which could be used for other untolled projects elsewhere.

                      Though the problem is not necessarily that the 400 tolls could have been fund other infrastructure improvements, as they were used to fund the construction of the improvements at the south end of 400 and I-85, the problem is that Georgia in general overall takes in too little in user fees to finance its growing infrastructure needs both in the realm of roads, whether one is talking about a state gas tax that is likely entirely too low, and in the realm of transit as MARTA, GRTA Xpress and the suburban bus services don’t collect enough in user fees at the farebox to come anywhere close to funding the full cost of operations and maintenance.

                      In addition to not collecting enough in user fees at the gas pump and the farebox, the small amounts that are collected both for roads at the state level (GDOT) and MARTA transit are often wildly mismanaged and mishandled (to put it nicely) as the money mismanagement issues at both GDOT and MARTA are well-documented.

          • CobbGOPer says:

            “…what will most certainly be a very strong challenge from his political right over his support of a massive sales tax increase in the T-SPLOST.”

            That would require someone to challenge him first. But anyone making noise about doing so will be “strongly advised” against it (or bribed to get out) by the state GOP leadership. I just don’t see this as a realistic possibility.

          • UpHere says:

            It was the entire north Fulton delegation, if you remember, that supported Deal over Handel in the first place at been considerable harm.

  3. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    Deal deserves derision for this. He’s only doing this to get his hands on the $19 Billion from the TSPLOST’s statewide.

    Watch how the story will change in the coming days too …. we need to pass TSPLOST to pull the tolls down.

    (Source for the $19B is at this link:
    http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/documents/RevenueProjections-061411.pdf)

    BTW – I bet you didn’t know that the $8,000,000,000 TSPLOST is really an obligation on Georgia of nearly than $11,000,000,000 if you count the O&M costs of the projects over 20 years. This number is from slide 11 of the June 2011 Transit Project Review by Hatch Mott,MacDonald.

  4. bgsmallz says:

    I’d like to hear the city of Atlanta’s take on this since that is who the promise was made to. It was not a promise made to Milton Co.

    I’m not thrilled by this…I always thought the extra .50 helped with the traffic on that stretch of road and I’m happy to pay it considering it is my main artery to and from downtown when I’m not taking the train. I understand the ‘keep stupid promises I made while campaigning’ angle…but ugh…

    1)- I thought those funds were being used for the I-85/400 interchange improvements. Any idea where that money is going to come from now? Am I wrong?

    2) As long as they are taking them down, they should keep them in storage. We are going to need them to widen 400 north of 285 in about 5 years anyway.

    3) Any idea if the restriction on trucks/hazardous materials will be lifted? I hate thinking about truck traffic clogging up 400 now that the tolls are down.

    • Rambler1414 says:

      2) Future tolls will likely all be CruiseCard/PeachPass technology. I will be surprised if the equipment is able to be recycled and placed somewhere else.

  5. you says:

    “He also used the news conference to tout the July 31 transportation tax referendum, calling it “the only foreseeable opportunity” to improve transportation in Georgia.”

  6. eburke says:

    Good move Governor! But my State has lied to me about the Solid Waste Trust Fund, The Scrap Tire Fund, and Ga 400, etc… for so many years now that I am reluctant to trust the State of Georgia to do the what it says on T-SPLOST.

    • Ask your Senator to strip the amendment added by the Senate to HB811….an amendment which gutted the bill rendering it useless. HB811 allows us to adjust those fees (some of them to begin with) to match what we appropriate rather than dump the excess collected into the general fund.

      • eburke says:

        just sent a message to my Senator and House members supporting Jay Powell’s bill. The State has a credibility problem and the General Assembly needs to do something about it.

  7. seekingtounderstand says:

    Hey GA 400 folks this is because he will turn it into a toll lane soon for more money after you vote for TSLPOST. Raise the costs and its a win for the state.
    Did you not catch this weeks story on the millions going into 400 by the DOT, not for roads but for the electronic stuff they put in prior to putting in toll road.

  8. seekingtounderstand says:

    Pres. Obana announces the “we can’t wait” fast approval for GA Port Expansion. He promises to sign in November.

  9. you says:

    Does this remind anyone else of the GOP Chair race last year? Deal is having all the politicians push his person / tax in hopes to keep his distance. At the end, when it looks like his pick is going to lose, he throws in a plug or two for his person / tax choice but still tries to pretend he is not endorsing her / it.

  10. Noway says:

    Kudos to Deal for this! It will go a long way in making the public trust that politicians will deliver on their promises. To those who say ‘how will we pay for this?’ We won’t. Pure and simple. The slicing of government budgets have to start some where. This is as good a place to begin as any.

    Now do something similar of the federal level. How ’bout an across the board 5% cut in the entire federal budget? No sacred cows, just 5% in cuts. Gotta start somewhere if we are going to save our nation.

    • bgsmallz says:

      Yes…this is as good a place to start as any because roads being maintained by direct user fees aren’t really a good use of public funds compared to those same roads being maintained by the general fund using gas taxes.

      SMH. (<— that's what the kids are saying these days…)

  11. James says:

    Can someone tell me why this is a big deal other than for the feel-good “politician keeps his promise” narrative? Does anyone actually complain about the $.50 toll? Hell, I think we should charge a nickel for each trip on or through I-285.

  12. debbie0040 says:

    DESPERATION, DESPERATION, DESPERATION

    Come on, do you really think this move is going to have voters say, “We can trust our elected officials so let’s run out and vote for T-SPLOST” ? Get real. Voters already see through this ploy.

    I just love the sound of desperation in the morning…

    • CobbGOPer says:

      It’s so obvious that you almost feel embarrassed for them. These people are supposed to be the best political minds in the state?

    • Stifler65 says:

      Debbie, You had a chance to run for office and decided not to. If you want to be the change, why not put yourself out there and be the change, instead of sitting on the sidelines where tough decisions do not have to be made.

  13. Noway says:

    I don’t give a rat’s backside about tsplost! In fact, if it’s another tax, I ain’t for it, either. All I want is the 400 toll to be gone because they said 10 years ago that they’d take it away.

  14. jackson says:

    You have to love people like Debbie Dooley. Complain that politicians are unethical scumbags, but when one makes a campaign promise and keeps it, they’re still an unethical scumbag.

    It doesn’t matter if it helps his TSPLOST effort or not. He promised to do it during the Governors race and he did it. Worse, most folks called him a liar then, saying he wouldn’t do it. Whether he used the timing to his advantage or not doesn’t mean diddly to me. God bless him for being shrewd. But at the end of the day, he did what he said he was going to do.

    Oh, and by the way, getting rid of the Tolls doesn’t mean that TSPLOST passes. There is no guarantee folks bite.

  15. joe says:

    ” But at the end of the day, he did what he said he was going to do. ”

    I thought that December 2013 was still in the future.

    • jackson says:

      Joe, if it doesnt happen, Debbie will buy you a steak dinner. I’d buy you one, but Debbie still owes me one from Casey Cagle beating that pillar of ethical purity, Ralph Reed 6 years ago.

  16. TPNoGa says:

    You think traffic stinks on 400 now, just wait till it’s free. I want to keep the toll to keep the cheapskates off the highway. This is one broken promise I was alright with.

  17. GTKay says:

    Yet another reason to vote for the TIA. Opponents say that politicians must prove themselves trustworthy. A small step is taken in that direction, and it receives nothing but derision. Are you happy the toll will come down or not? Their “trust” is just some fake carrot on a stick that the Atlanta Tea Party and others dangle out there to make themselves sound reasonable, but today they’ve proven they’re just naysayers. If the TIA doesn’t pass, our underfunded transportation network will remain so, because we will see nothing but objections and rancor coming from this crowd during any discussion of funding next session. The economic state of our region is lost on them. At this point it’s just about winning the argument and gaining political power.

    • Daddy Got A Gun says:

      I don’t agree! GDOT, Gov. Perdue and Gov. Deal lied to us and continue to do so.

      When the bonds were paid off, the toll booths should have been removed as promised. They weren’t and government found new ways to spend the money, like it always does. This is how TSPLOST will be a permanent tax.

      Only when the loss of a much greater sum of money was likely did the Governor decide to pull the toll booths. Actually, he didn’t pull the toll booth’s yet. He can still keep them by claiming “a funding emergency – blah, blah, blah” If TSPLOST is voted down, he’ll probably claim that we need the money he has to …. “reluctantly” reverse his promis.

      I should point out that much of the issues with 85 /400 that we have today were intentionally done by the designers. We are spending money today to reverse GDOT’s original design intent.

      • TPNoGa says:

        Also, I am voting a big N-O on TSPLOST. I like toll roads, let the people who use it pay for it.

  18. debbie0040 says:

    Gov. Deal’s position on removing the tolls on June 27, 2012 before T-SPLOST was in great peril:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/group-wants-deal-to-1465701.html

    “Brian Robinson, spokesman for the governor, said this week that Deal did not support SRTA’s decision to extend the toll, which happened before he was elected. Robinson said the toll can’t simply be removed now that the state has already sold bonds that must be repaid with the revenue.

    “He wants them to come down as soon as they possibly can,” Robinson said. “We’re committed to that, but we can’t hurt the state’s bond rating in the meantime.”

    http://blogs.ajc.com/kyle-wingfield/2012/07/19/ending-the-ga-400-tolls-now-isnt-a-great-idea/
    Coming 12 days before the T-SPLOST referendum, this is an obvious pander for “yes” votes. It’s a last-ditch attempt to save what would appear to be an expensive but failed campaign to pass the $7.2 billion tax. But I highly doubt it will be an effective one.

    There is no doubt the broken promise to remove the 400 toll — broken in 2010 by lame-duck Gov. Sonny Perdue — is a huge driver of opposition to the T-SPLOST. It is one of the clearest examples of why trust in government is lacking. Deal addressed this issue in a press-release quote about removing the toll, saying “it is imperative that governments build the trust of their people.”

    But I will be very surprised if many voters upset about the broken toll promise hear Deal’s new promise to take it down — 17 months from now — and suddenly feel their faith in government renewed. In all likelihood, the damage is done.

  19. seekingtounderstand says:

    Plan B It costs the government 2.4 cents to produce the penny. How about we stop producing pennies and pay for roads with the savings.
    That and ask the Governor to use his experience with Congress to demand Ga stop being a gas tax donor after all we are in a road crisis and our future depends on it.
    Use the new “it can’t wait program” that Pres. Obama has proposed.

  20. Tiberius says:

    Let’s not forget the Stat eRoad and Tollway Authority must approve.

    What happens if they say “we don’t agree with the Governor’s numbers, we need another year….”

    Deal gets his TSPLOST help, the state gets it s money and Deal gets a campaign issue in 2014.

  21. GTKay says:

    Citizens of Georgia, these are the people who want this bill to fail so that next year’s session – full of people whome they tell you are corrupt and untrustworthy – will attempt to develop another plan to fund our underfunded transportation network. However, next time they plan to be a part of the process. Debbie has expressed a desire to meet with leaders from Sierra Club and Vincent Fort of the Dekalb NAACP to find consensus on roads, transit, MARTA funding, equity for Fulton and Dekalb, gas taxes, funding sources, etc.

    Debbie, who supports Ed Setzler’s bill to allow counties “who have things in common with each other” to be able to partner together to solve transportation issues, expects a better outcome than a that of a 1 1/2 year unprecedented process which brought together county officials from 10 counties, who didn’t have many things in common with each other, who voted unanimously on a list of projects they felt would benefit the metro Atlanta area.

    Debbie, who in response to GA400 tolls going away snidely remarks that she “loves the sound of desperation,” will build consensus with Sierra Club, a group that promotes regulations that hinder road building as much as possible while driving up construction costs, and Mr. Fort of the Dekalb NAACP who wasn’t satisfied with the piddling 225 million for a South Dekalb MARTA line.

    Debbie, who supports Chip Rogers, who voted for the legislation which started the whole process, then when appointed as a non-voting member to the Atlanta roundtable failed to show up for a single meeting, and who now campaigns against it because he doesn’t trust government while at the same time telling us that they need another chance to “get it right.”

    These are the people who will get it right for us next time.

    • Daddy Got A Gun says:

      The people on the TSPLOST committee had a goal. Bailout Marta and expand it’s tax base to engross rich counties like Cobb and Gwinnett. This entire deal is driven by these goals.

      Marta failed to set aside money for its end-of-life capital equipment and without TSPLOST they seemingly have no way to buy the $800M of needed replacements. If the list is to be believed, it sounds like the tunnels are at risk, the escalators will break down, and the generators will go dark. (TIA-M-006, TIA-M-007 and TIA-M-002)

      The goal is why 52% of TSPLOST has a connection to Marta, whether its replacing End of Life equipment, buying new buses for the various entities that will connect to the Marta system or sidewalks and landscaping to make accessing Marta stations more pleasurable.

      The goal is why ONLY 29% of the tax collection is going to be used for increasing road capacity.

      The goal is why counties other than Marta counties (Fulton and Dekalb) get only 66 cents worth of projects in their county for every dollar of taxes they pay.

      The goal is why less than 11% of the budget is spent on multi-county and regional traffic impacting projects. If our goal was to untie Atlanta with better regional roads, then the TSPLOST only needs to be 0.1% because that is all that is being spent on untieing, the rest goes to Marta, studies of future connections to Marta, sidewalks to marta stations and the occasional airport runway light.

      Setzler’s idea of multi-county cooperation is a good one. I’d point that there are very few multi-county projects in TSPLOST. The counties would get a better Return on Investment than 66% for their own Transportation SPLOST and they could decide for THEMSELVES what projects are important, not politicians and bureaucrats with a hidden agenda.

      The only regional part of TSPLOST is that the Region gets to pay for Marta’s mismanagement.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        How can Marta who has no diversity with its employees get so much state and federal money.
        I guess the rules just work one way in America. Go to the Marta head quarters sometime, its quite interesting.

  22. DavidTC says:

    Further, the state needs time to plan for physically bringing down the gates and the dramatic restructuring that will be needed in the toll area.

    Erm, what? Huh?

    Repaint the lines and put up some of those little poles to keep people in the inside lanes. If more lanes are needed, just let people drive through the toll booth area also.

    I understand that we might want to reuse or sell some of the toll equipment eventually, but there’s no actual _work_ required to stop taking tolls.

  23. debbie0040 says:

    GT, we cannot do a worse job than what you guys did… Getting conservative and liberal groups together, we may actually come up with a plan that will pass and will actually relieve traffic instead of all the economic development projects in the T-SPLOST project list. Do you think groups should only work together for projects you support? IE: Gov. Deal and Lt. Gov. Cagle working with Mayor Reed. You did not come up with the best plan to relieve traffic congestion. You came up with a plan that you thought would pass.

    Do you know what FUBAR stands for? That is what this whole process and marketing plan was / is.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Do you know what FUBAR stands for? That is what this whole process and marketing plan was / is.”

      I agree. That statement sums up the whole situation quite nicely.

      Heck, maybe they should go ahead and change the campaign from unsuccessfully convincing people to vote for the T-SPLOST to convincing people to vote for the T-FUBAR tax.

      Although, I highly doubt that the state will attempt to deal with transportation by commissioning this highly-unpopular T-SPLOST process again if this thing fails, as it is looking like it is going to unless they can find and CONvince enough uninformed suckers into voting for it at the very last minute.

      Especially with a statewide election looming in 2014 in which Governor Deal may have some ‘plaining to do about why he backed a very substantial sales tax increase in a GOP Primary dominated by highly tax-averse conservative voters.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        With electronic voting and the help of Kemp who can believe the results as there is no proof of votes.

    • GTKay says:

      Classy, Debbie.

      A group of 21 conservative, liberal, and in-between county officials along with Mayor Reed came up with the plan. Yes, they came up with a plan they thought would pass. You said you can come up with a plan that you think will pass. Why would anyone come up with a plan they didn’t think would pass?

      Have you actually read the bill? You focus entirely on traffic congestion, when that is only one of the objectives of the TIA.

      • debbie0040 says:

        I have read the legislation. CTM has sent out mail pieces and ran ads talking about how T-SPLOST will relieve traffic congestions with the whole Untie Atlanta campaign. Are you saying that was un-truthful and that the main objective of T-SPLOST was not traffic congestion?

        If you guys want economic development projects then don’t ask the tax-payer to raise their own taxes to pay for it.

        • GTKay says:

          I’m saying you must not have understood the legislation since you fixate on the same 4 or 5 projects and say they don’t meet the objective of the bill. It’s called the Transportation Investment Act and relieving congestion is one objective as is funding transportation needs in each county of the region.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “Have you actually read the bill? You focus entirely on traffic congestion, when that is only one of the objectives of the TIA.”

            It’s pretty obvious that some of the worst traffic congestion on the planet here in Metro Atlanta doesn’t seem to necessarily be one of the major objectives of the TIA.

            Besides, I cannot possibly understand why the millions of commuters that are stuck in some of the worst traffic on the planet would possibly ever want relieving the very severe traffic congestion that they are stuck in to be the main priority?

            Kay, do you have any suggestions why people who frequently get stuck in gridlocked traffic would want relieving traffic congestion to be the top priority in a TRANSPORTATION referendum?

            Does anyone else have any clues as why gridlocked commuters would want relieving the severe traffic congestion that they have to deal with on at least a twice-daily basis to be the main priority when being asked to raise their own taxes to deal with a problem that the State Legislature just does not seem to have time to deal during the course of their really busy days? Because Kay just does not seem to know.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            GT Kay,

            At least you are honest that some of the worst and most severe traffic congestion on the planet is not a top priority to the powers-that-be that penned the T-SPLOST and for that I thank you as your honestly is at least somewhat refreshing.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Well there is the whole point. Those county commissioners can not be trusted in many places.
        This is the entire problem. They will be in charge. And Deal has some ones from his own home county that should raise concerns of trust.

  24. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    One would have to be crazy to think that the State Legislature is going to address transportation with another T-SPLOST, especially given the tax referendum’s intense unpopularity in the suburbs and exurbs OTP and the surprising lack-of-popularity inside of Fulton and DeKalb counties (as in the lack-of-popularity Intown was only surprising to the powers-that-be that dreamed up this mess as hardcore pro-transit Intowners were not likely going to vote to raise their own taxes to fund the construction of a new freeway in the right-of-way of the abandoned Northern Arc, a road that they utterly despised and led the way in helping to defeat a decade ago just as conservative OTP voters were likely never going to vote to raise their own taxes to fund MARTA maintenance and rehab or MARTA anything, for that matter).

    The state may also likely be extremely hesitant to restart the TIA/T-SPLOST process again with a statewide election coming in 2014 in which Governor Deal will have to answer for his support of a substantial sales tax increase to tax-averse conservative voters in a statewide Republican primary that will be dominated by the same conservative suburban Atlanta voters who are angrily leading the way to what is likely a stinging defeat of the T-SPLOST.

    • Daddy Got A Gun says:

      TSPLOST hasn’t lost yet so let’s not count our chickens yet.

      I spent alot of time reading the project descriptions and looking at the costs. Some of the projects are ridiculous. For example, TSPLOST pays for airport runway lights and designer landscapes. Lord knows, Marta riders shouldn’t have to walk along boring sidewalks. 89% of the money being spent is on nice to have but unnecessary projects, only 11% is being spent on actual needs that will improve regional commutes.

      To me, it looks like the committee started with the big pot of money and worked hard to spend it all. Next time, they should start with a list of “actual needed” projects. Once the list has been culled and agreed upon, then and only then should they determine the level of tax necessary.

      I think they could get by with 0.1% for the truly regional and necessary projects. If a county wanted to do other projects, they could do a 0.5% transportation SPLOST. If each of the counties did that, we as a region would end up with more projects, more revenue, and more effectiveness.

      The loser of the 0.1%/0.5% plan is Marta who has mismanaged their Capital budget and won’t have the taxpayers of Douglas, Clayton, and Gwinnett to bail them out.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “TSPLOST hasn’t lost yet so let’s not count our chickens yet.”

        NO! Don’t try and take that away from me! Just let me have my piece-of-mind that this bad piece of legislation and demonstration of monumentally bad transportation policy is all but done.

        Now if the powers-that-be happen to be able to round-up enough unsuspecting and uninformed suckers and con them into voting for this crap and if this thing just happens to pass then I’ll deal with, but until then just let me be able to rest assured in at least the naive assumption this thing is doomed and that there are not enough fools in the world to be to duped into voting for this obvious scam.

      • GTKay says:

        The committee started with hundreds of projects sent in from counties and city officials from all over the region. The Executive Committe culled that list down to fit the projected amount of revenue. So no, they did not work hard to spend it all. They worked hard to choose projects for the list that would stay within the projected amount yet give each county as much of what they asked for as possible.

        So if they should start next time with a list of “actual needed” projects, I wonder which projects Debbie, Vincent Fort, and The Sierra Club will determine by consensus to be “actual needed?”

        • debbie0040 says:

          You really don’t get it do you? It is not just the project list we have an issue with. It is the entire process with the TIA Legislation and the way the regions are created. We believe strongly that it is un-Consitutional. It punishes counties that don’t pass it, it takes away home rule and local control because there is not opt out for counties that don’t pass it. Voters in a county can turn it down but if it passes the collective, the voters in the county that rejected the tax still have to pay it..

          GTKay, what professional field are you in?

          • GTKay says:

            My comment was in response to DGAG’s comment about how the list was developed, and I’m a mom. We disagree on the regional issue. So when a county votes against a referendum they don’t have to comply?

        • Daddy Got A Gun says:

          That is the list of the 160 most critical projects in Atlanta. Seriously? Runway lights and designer landscaped sidewalks are critical? Sheeze we are better off than most of us think.

          • you says:

            If they had put out a list of major roadways that needed completed and kept the cost down, along with the timeline, more people would support it. But instead, they go overboard to get every level of government onboard so, here in Gainesville we will get new sidewalks and bike trails. What does that have to do with traffic? Government doesn’t know where to stop to keep it feasible. The politicians look at it as a money grab and they search for ways to waste it.
            I’d like to know if the cities and counties have considered the maintenance cost of all these smaller projects or if they think it is free money. We have had libaries and parks built with SPLOST money that we could not afford to open because no one thought it through.

            • seekingtounderstand says:

              Atlanta is paying out big money when someone files a claim on being hurt on a sidewalk. Millions so far. So why build sidewalks anymore if it only results in court costs rising.

  25. Dave Bearse says:

    My objection wasn’t that the GA400 toll was extended, but in how it was extended. Gov Perdue had a do-nothing legacy to protect, and what better way to protect that legacy than torpedo T-SPLOST?

    Deal’s announcement is too late to be very effective, except for his own re-election campaign. Opinions have largely been formed. The announcement coming out of the woodwork a year and half into a term of office, when only a week or two ago a Deal spokesperson said nothing could be done, simply validates the notion of politicians and government pandering to the ignorant and gullible.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Deal’s announcement is too late to be very effective, except for his own re-election campaign.”

      Exactly. Deal desperately needs the support of conservative voters in that GA 400 North Corridor who will have a very big say in the GOP Primary, hence the opening up of the 400 shoulders to traffic and the ending of the GA 400 toll.

      Having the support of the I-75/I-575 NW and GA 400 N corridors that he lost to Handel in the runoff becomes even all the more important in 2014 because of the anger in the I-85 NE Corridor (which carried Deal to victory in the runoff in 2010) over the HOT Lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett.

  26. you says:

    In today’s Gainesville Times , Phillip Wilheit the Governor’s long time friend, has written his letter to the editor. The Times has pushed the TSPLOST and every Hall Chamber leader and local politician has had a letter published. The funnest line is “Is it any wonder that the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, with its staunch record of opposing any tax increase, is squarely behind T-SPLOST? Or that the statewide effort to pass T-SPLOST is led by Republicans and Democrats? You’d be hard-pressed to find another political issue with such bipartisan support.”
    The Chamber against a tax increase?? When? The Hall Chmaber has pushed every SPLOST we have; we are now on number 5 or 6, so don’t think it is “temporary”.

    http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/225/article/70257/

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Its worse than what you have stated. The Hall County budget pays the Hall County Chamber of Commerce hundreds of thousands of dollars. They list some of it under Economic Development etc. but it all goes to the same chamber account. Then the chamber uses it to lobby for higher taxes at every opportunity and to sway political campaigns by imposing their values on elected officals.

  27. debbie0040 says:

    Letter from NAACP about T-SPLOST. I have heard early voter turnout in DeKalb is very high.

    Dear Community Partners:

    The Georgia State Conference is opposed to the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or “T-Splost” and urges all concerned citizen to vote against the referendum on July 31st.

    It is undeniable that Georgia has serious transportation issues to address with a comprehensive set of fair and inclusive policies in the very near future, but T-Splost is not the policy we should galvanize behind for several reasons.

    On its face, it is apparent that T-SPLOST is unfair to the poor, minorities and middle class. It lacks the inclusionary language that is necessary to ensure fairness and equity in the distribution of contracts to small, minority and women owned businesses. Further, there are no real guarantees that the thousands of jobs being promised by proponents of the referendum will go to the most vulnerable segments of our communities-the poor and middle class.

    But what we at the Georgia State Conference NAACP find most unconscionable is that T-Splost is a regressive tax, that again, requires that the most vulnerable segment of Georgia’s population-the poor, elderly, and middle class-bear a majority of the costs.

    Sales taxes are inherently regressive. The lower a family’s income, the more of its income the family must spend on things subject to the tax. According to research conducted by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, low income families typically spend three-quarters of their income on things subject to sales tax. Middle-income families spend about half their income on items subject to sales tax. Not surprisingly, the richest families only spend about a sixth of their income on sales-taxable items resulting in a huge tax disparity that is unfair and undemocratic.

    Another T-Splost inequity is that DeKalb and Fulton Counties (the two counties with the largest population of African-Americans) will have to pay 2% in transportation tax while other counties will only pay 1%. Georgians should not tolerate blatant social inequities like these. Fulton and DeKalb Counties have been paying a one penny transit sales tax since the 1970s. Yet, under the T-Splost referendum, it’s Cobb County that gets a fully funded rail line. DeKalb County will only receive a partially funded rail line.

    Lastly, when we consider that T-Splost proposes a 1% tax on all items except motor gasoline it begs the question, who benefits the most from this? Truckers, drivers and big businesses-that’s who! Ironically, the entities that do the most damage to the roads are going to be exempt from the tax! This exemption on fuel, like so many other aspects of the referendum, makes the T-Splost a penny tax worth repealing.

    Don’t be fooled by the propaganda into thinking that a penny tax won’t be much noticed by taxpayers. No one should tolerate long term financial inequities like these. The real cost to the poor and middle class is hidden in many small purchases throughout the year. The regressive nature of a T-Splost tax may be hidden in a harmless looking single rate, but the real cost to individual taxpayers is likely to exceed everyone’s expectations. Estimates show that the additional penny sales tax will cost each metro Atlanta household an average of $3,000 over ten years.

    And one more thing, Districts that reject T-SPLOST will be penalized. They’ll lose 20-percent of road maintenance funding, meaning local governments would pay triple what they pay now for maintaining their roads simply because they reject T-SPLOST! There is on Opt-Out option. To be penalized for voting your conscience is unconscionable, unconstitutional and un-democratic!

    Hopefully, on August 1st we’ll all be able to breathe in a deep sigh of relief and begin to address our state’s traffic needs in an open, inclusive, transparent and democratic manner. Once we put a viable Plan B on the table (with the help of the Sierra Club, NAACP, CWA and other concerned citizens and civic groups) all Georgians will get the best possible deal and will benefit from the diversified input of these citizens.

    I invite you to stand with the Georgia State Conference NAACP and our Coalition Partners to Vote “No” on July 31st!
    Please visit our Facebook page Georgia State Conference NAACP for more information!

    Sincerely,

    Sheila D. Brown
    Chair, Community Coordination Committee
    Georgia State Conference NAACP
    970 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive #306
    Atlanta, GA 30314-2962

    • Daddy Got A Gun says:

      Its an odd world when I agree with the NAACP.

      They identified many of the problems with TSPLOST, especially the part where the big companies pushing this tax are themselves exempt from it and its regressive nature.

      Bravo NAACP!

      • bgsmallz says:

        Seriously….can we please stop with the cutting and pasting in the comments?!?

        Use a hyperlink, Debbie.

          • bgsmallz says:

            Even a better reason not to cut and past the whole thing into the comments.

            I’m sure I’m not in the majority on this one, but I just wish the comments were for commenting, not for threadjacking a story about the 400 toll with the entire contents of a letter written by the NACCP about T-Splost.

            Regardless, this is my favorite part…

            “Once we put a viable Plan B on the table (with the help of the Sierra Club, NAACP, CWA and other concerned citizens and civic groups)…”

            LOLZ!!!!!! You mean the NAACP and the TEA Party aren’t going to be working together on a Plan B even though they are both opposed to Plan A?

            Yep, Plan B is going to go swimmingly.

            • Rambler1414 says:

              “LOLZ!!!!!! You mean the NAACP and the TEA Party aren’t going to be working together on a Plan B even though they are both opposed to Plan A?”

              Don’t forget the Sierra Club and the Georgia Legislature.

              This sounds like the beginnings of a joke.
              A TEA Party member, NAACP member, Sierra Club member and a Georgia Legislator walk into a bar…

              • Calypso says:

                Laugh, but it sure looks like that coalition is solid enough now to knock your TSPLOST off the shelf.

                • bgsmallz says:

                  @calypso

                  All a bowling ball needs is a little momentum and it can knock down pins at the end of the alley. But all the bowling balls in the world would never be able to stand the pins back up.

                  It’s not a good plan. It tries to please everyone and ends up pleasing none. Our legislature set the pins up at the end of the alley and put our local leaders in charge of convincing voters not to knock them down.

                  I’m worried it’s the best we are going to get for a decade or so…that’s how long it’s been since we invested in transit in this town. That’s basically why I’m voting yes.

                  I’ll stand by this…the current leadership might not get a crack at Plan B. there are going to be a lot of folks squirming in November. The GOP and TEA are just opening the door for smart, moderate Dems to take back some of those seats in the metro. With the way they set up Fulton in redistricting, this TSplost debacle could have far reaching consequences.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    “I’m worried it’s the best we are going to get for a decade or so…that’s how long it’s been since we invested in transit in this town. That’s basically why I’m voting yes. ”

                    Don’t vote for a plan that you know in your heart is not a good plan out of desperation that nothing else likely will not be coming down the pike from a political leadership that was never the least bit serious about dealing with transportation in the first place.

                    I agree with you that we likely will not get anything for a decade or so, but what we may get after that decade or so just may very well be worth the wait after our state and regional political processes work themselves out and this state and region learns the hard way just how critically-important SERIOUS transportation infrastructure investment really is.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    The T-SPLOST that’s in front of us is anything but even the slightest serious attempt at transportation infrastructure investment reform as it does nothing more than use smoke-and-mirrors in the form of a bunch of almost randomly-scattered road improvements and many poorly-conceptualized, severely inadequately-funded and badly-placed rail transit lines in an extremely poor and desperate attempt to prop-up the rapidly-declining remains of a increasingly outdated lifestyle that is ultra-overdependent almost exclusively on one single mode of transportation in the automobile.

                    The T-SPLOST isn’t the start of a way out of traffic gridlock that its backers and pushers claim it to be.

                    The T-SPLOST is one of the very last gasps of a dying publicly-subsidized land spectulator/developer-driven 20th Century mandate for the type of scatterbrained massive sprawl and overdevelopment that has made our wholly-inadequate and extremely-limited road network a nightmare to navigate during daylight hours.

                    Passing the T-SPLOST would only further delay the inevitable end of a bad and often abusive relationship between greedy land spectulation interests and a fed-up public which has had enough of subsidizing more and more increasingly expensive traffic gridlock-inducing sprawl and overdevelopment with nothing to show for it but increasingly lengthy rush hour commutes from hell, if they’re lucky.

              • Daddy Got A Gun says:

                A TEA Party member, NAACP member, Sierra Club member and a Georgia Legislator walk into a bar…

                …. And solve Atlanta’s traffic problems in a cost-efficient and inclusive manner while improving the environment.

                That there is PLAN B.

                • Rambler1414 says:

                  Please bookmark this post.
                  I hope for our the sake of our entire state that you are correct.

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    I can’t wait to read the write ups on these Plan B meetings.

                    July 20, 2017

                    The TEA Party and the NAACP agreed to meet again yesterday to discuss the transportation Plan B. Well, actually they agreed to conference call considering the fact that no one actually wanted to fight traffic to reach a meeting place that was mid-way between the burbs and the city core. The results were the same as the past 50 or so meetings. The proceedings opened with a prayer. They all called each other racists. The meeting was adjourned.

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