DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Georgia voters rejected a regional transportation special purpose local option sales tax (TSPLOST) in May. Understandably. The idea of someone living in one county paying for road improvements several counties away did not appeal to most voters.
But a “single-county TSPLOST” where residents of one county invest in paving or widening roads, repairing unsafe bridges or patching potholes in their own county via a one-percent sales tax is gaining popularity among Georgia voters.
Voters in Athens-Clarke, Banks, Bryan, Bulloch, Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Fulton, Haralson, Putnam, Seminole, Walker and Ware have already approved a single-county TSPLOST this year.
Five more (Baldwin, Carroll, Habersham, Lee and Miller) will ask their voters to decide the issue during the November election. Lumpkin, Dougherty, Coweta, McIntosh, Morgan, Newton and Worth counties are planning to bring the issue to a referendum in March.
Why has the single-county TSPLOST succeeded where the regional TSPLOST failed?
Kathleen Bowen, legislative associate with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia explained: “I would say the single-county TSPLOST efforts have been successful because the local elected officials (working with their citizens) have been able to articulate what the transportation needs are and that all of the funds raised would stay in their own county to fund transportation projects.”
Something else that seems to appeal to voters is that the single-county TSPLOST can only be collected for five years, compared to the regional TSPLOST that can continue for 10 years.
Dawson County Manager David Headley said Dawson County could benefit from a single-county TSPLOST.
“It’s especially important for a small county like Dawson with limited funds to absorb the amount of cost it will take to make major transportation improvements,” he said. “This could help us fast track some much needed transportation projects that we could do on our own that will prepare us for the growth headed our way.”
Headley says there have been some informal talks between city and county staffers regarding the single-county TSPLOST. “There has also been discussion with State Rep. Kevin Tanner about the possibility of Georgia Department of Transportation participation,” he said.
City and county officials would need to work out an intergovernmental agreement, draft a list of roads projects and hold public awareness meetings to gain public buy-in before bringing it to the voters in a referendum for their final approval.
If approved by voters, the funding mechanism could help solve major road issues that have long festered in the county such as Shoal Creek Road widening/replacement and Lumpkin Campground Road widening.
More talks between city and county staff are planned for Sept. 19.
But the citizens will have the final say about making the investment to improve the roads in Dawson County.
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