One of the most talked about items on the primary ballot is the proposed transportation tax referendum. The controversial tax has prompted campaigns both for and against the penny tax and has divided regions in Georgia.
Cities and counties are renegotiating the terms of a tax that almost every Georgian pays. All but a handful of Georgia counties have a penny sales tax called LOST. It goes into city and county budgets to offset property taxes. But every ten years, cities and counties have to renegotiate how the taxes are split up based on new Census data.
Governor Nathan Deal spoke at a $500 a head fundraiser to support penny sales taxes for transportation. The Savannah reception was the first major fundraising push outside Atlanta for supporters of the T-SPLOST vote in July.
Voters in 34 Georgia communities will decide penny sales taxes on Tuesday. Revenues collected from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes would fund a wide variety of local projects. In Atlanta, city voters have the option to approve a potential three-quarters of a billion-dollar tax for water and sewer maintenance.
A new survey shows, Metro Atlanta and Southeast Georgia voters favor a proposed new sales tax by a two-to-one margin. The state-wide poll by Survey USA for WXIA-TV Atlanta shows Northwest Georgia is evenly split on the tax idea, called T-SPLOST. Savannah's Chatham County Commission Chairman Pete Liakakis says, with an uncertain vote date, it's still too early for campaigning.
Dozens of Georgia counties next week will hold votes on whether to continue charging sales taxes for schools. The Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or ESPLOST can only pay for new buildings or for paying off debt. Supporters of the tax in Savannah's Chatham County say, public schools need to have more up-to-date buildings if they want to attract private school students. Opponents, however, say new buildings have little to do with the education going on inside of them.
The final project lists for Georgia's 12 transportation regions are nearly all in. And with the submission deadline approaching this Saturday, only four districts have not yet officially signed-off on their lists. Lists for the Heart of Georgia, Southern, Central Savannah, and Atlanta districts have not yet been officially approved.
Northwest Georgia and Atlanta regional officials are scheduled to propose their wish lists for a possible transportation tax Thursday. And with that, all of Georgia's twelve transportation regions will have wish lists ready to show voters. The lists detail how officials plan to spend a proposed penny sales tax for road and other projects.
A referendum on a proposed transportation sales tax will take place next summer. Some officials have expressed a desire to move the vote to the November general election. But changing the date won’t be easy.
Wednesday is the deadline for 12 regions of Georgia to submit transportation wish lists to the state. It represents the first step toward putting the lists before voters. Sometime next year, voters would decide whether to approve a penny sales tax for their region's projects.