By Tia Lynn Ivey
Three public forums have been held to educate the public on the upcoming referendum on TSPLOST (Transportation Special Project Local Option Sales Tax), another one-penny sales tax to garner more revenue exclusively to fund transportation-related projects and expenses, such as road repairs, paving, and maintenance, as well as purchasing and maintaining equipment and buildings used for transportation needs.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) officially adopted a resolution confirming the TSPLOST ballot that will be put up for a vote next month.
Three more meetings are scheduled throughout February, with county leaders hoping Morgan County voters will approve TSPLOST on Tuesday, March 19 during a special election.
According to County Manager Adam Mestres, TSPLOST is expected to bring in $18 million over the course of five years. Over $12 million of those revenues would be used by the county, while the rest would be distributed between the City of Madison, Rutledge, Bostwick and the Town of Buckhead.
Transportation expenses, such as road work, has proven difficult for the county to afford in recent years. The average cost to resurface just one mile of roadway is about $100,000. To pave just one mile of dirt road is about $400,000. The county has fallen short of road paving goals due to the increasing costs.
According to Mark Williams, assistant county manager, the status quo ends up being about seven to eight miles of road resurfacing a year, when the goal for the year was at least 10 miles. However, if TSPLOST passes, the county may be able to complete 20 miles of road resurfacing a year.
Mestres stressed that TSPLOST would not only enhance the county’s capabilities to fix roads and bridges, but it would also serve as a possible safeguard against property taxes increasing in the future.
“This would be a broad avenue for us to do all things transportation. It would give the potential to really put us into the future,” said Mestres.
“And the more revenue we have flowing in from other sources besides property taxes reduces additional reliance on future property taxes for projects we are going to have to do anyway.”
Bob Hughes, president of the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce cited a study from the University of Georgia that indicated 25-30 percent of the TSPLOST revenues would be paid by out-of-town visitors or motorists passing through Morgan County.
Mestres hopes the informational sessions, which will be sponsored by the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, will give citizens the opportunity to familiarize themselves with TSPLOST before the vote.
If TSPLOST passes in March, collection would begin on July 1, 2019.
On Thursday Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. a TSPLOST meeting will be held in the Buckhead City Hall located at 4741 Buckhead Road in Buckhead.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m., a TSPLOST meeting will be held at the Antioch Baptist Church, located at 1111 Antioch Church Road in Madison.
The final meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m.at the Madison City Hall meeting room located at 160 North Main Street Suite 400 in Madison.