The opinion piece opposing T-SPLOST that appeared in Sunday’s paper had some information that we do not consider was truly accurate.
Point one stated that of $203 million in tax revenue generated in Lowndes County only $146 million, approximately 72 percent, will be retained by the county. A county-by-county analysis done by the University of Georgia shows that 54 percent of the tax collected in Lowndes County will come from sources outside of Lowndes County. This means that we will pay 46 percent of the tax but get 72 percent of the benefit. Not such a bad deal in our opinion.
Point two stated that the government is ineffective in managing. Rather vague in our opinion but we don’t see the private sector stepping up to improve and repair our roads and bridges.
Point three stated that in 2017 the state implemented a 7.5 cent per gallon gasoline tax for transportation use. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the fuel tax in Georgia actually increased .3 cents on gasoline and .4 cents on diesel in 2017. The fuel tax is indexed to the consumer price index and is adjusted annually. So basically there was no real increase in revenue to fund additional projects with the fuel tax.
Point four is that a regional governmental board is allowed $18 million in administrative fees. There are 18 regions so this breaks down to $1 million per region. Not too bad considering the boards will be overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in projects.
Point five states that each county will have two votes on the regional board with Lowndes County producing 37 percent of the tax income. Remember that 54 percent of the tax generated in Lowndes County will come from around the region.
Point six states that the counties will be required to expend 30 percent of the T-SPLOST income on projects included in the statewide strategic transportation plan. Statewide transportation projects usually require local governments to fund part of the project costs. T-SPLOST funds will possibly enable these statewide projects to get funded sooner.
The T-SPLOST project lists are for infrastructure repairs and improvements that will need to be made. If they are not funded by the 1 percent sales tax increase, they will have to be funded by other sources such as increased property taxes, licensing and fees.
The roads and infrastructure are critical for our safety.
The safety of our loved ones and ourselves when traveling in Lowndes and surrounding counties is important to us all. Whether it is our children on the school bus making their way home, sports teams traveling to neighboring counties, driving across county lines to get to work or going to the doctor – we need well-maintained roads.
This is a great opportunity for us to better our community and those around us.
Terry Johnson and Steve Johnson,
Concerned Citizens of Valdosta, Lowndes County and the South-Central Region