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Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 10:31am

GDOT Lowers Sales Tax Projections

The state Department of Transportation says less money than expected will come in from a proposed transportation sales tax. New projections are down about three percent.

Last year, the state predicted the one-cent sales tax for transportation would yield about $1.54 billion in 2013.

Now, officials say the tax would bring in about $40 million less if voters approve it next summer.

GDOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg says the current estimate factors in new sales tax exemptions and other items such as inflation. And she says the new projection doesn’t change the basic premise of the tax.

“It’s still all brand-new money dedicated to transportation," she said. "We’ve never had this source of funding before so we haven’t lost money. It’s just the projections are a little bit less than the draft projections, which were given really off-the-cuff last year.”

The revised projection means Georgia’s 12 transportation regions have less money to plan with.

Hunter Bicknell chairs the Northeast Georgia regional transportation roundtable. He said his group gave GDOT a preliminary list of projects that would cost about $2 billion. Now, it is cutting the list in half to align it with projected estimates of about $1 billion. The new projection only reduces the estimates slightly, he said.

“The revised estimates – while we are happy to have them and we will embrace them and see how we have to adjust to it -- it’s not going to be a major impact on us being able to develop a good project list,” he said.

If Georgians approve the penny tax next summer, it would pay for regional transportation projects.

Proponents say it would help Georgia catch up on transportation investments.