News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Friday, February 22, 2008

TSPLOST bill passes the Senate!

A press release from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle:

Cagle: Senate Passage of Transportation Resolution Moves Georgia Forward

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Atlanta, GA – Today, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle applauded the Senate’s passage of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) resolution which will bring a funding solution to the transportation needs of our state. The resolution passed the Senate 51 to 4.“The Senate’s overwhelming approval today of this resolution will move our state forward by allowing our citizens to decide how they want their transportation dollars spent,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

The TSPLOST resolution will amend the Georgia Constitution so that as of May 1, 2009 individual counties can voluntarily propose to their citizens a new 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects. Similar to previous SPLOSTs, each proposal is required to list the projects the TSPLOST will pay for, the cost of those projects, and the length of time that the tax will be in effect.

Ninety percent of revenue collected through the TSPLOST will be returned to the participating county or region for projects. At least ten percent of that amount will be used to construct, maintain and operate mass transit within that county or region. The resolution gives the General Assembly a deadline of April 1st to establish a framework by which counties can voluntarily join together into regions and combine their tax for projects of regional significance. This will happen before counties can initiate the TSPLOST.

[Full text of Senate Resolution 845]

I'm ecstatic about this development- BikeAthens has been pushing this for years with our state delegation- but there are some unclear points.

Based on Cagle's press release, 90% of the TSPLOST goes to "projects" while 10% is dedicated to transit construction, operation, & maintenance.

Section 1(i) of the resolution states:
An amount equal to not less than 80 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected shall be expended within the special district on the specific transportation projects. With respect to the remaining proceeds, an amount equal to not less than 20 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected shall be remitted to the Department of Transportation on a monthly basis. [The DOT] shall expend an amount equal to not less than 10 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected solely for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining multicounty or regional mass transit networks within the special district and shall deposit an amount equal to not less than 10 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected in the general fund of the state which proceeds shall be available solely for general transportation purposes as specified by general law.
So, as I read it, we could have a 1% sales tax where 80% of each penny will be used for transportation projects we (a TSPLOST committee?) determine we want, which may include transit improvements (what about bicycle or ped infrastructure?).
After passing through GDOT's hands, natch, 10% of each penny is dedicated solely to building and operating "multicounty or regional mass transit networks," while the remaining 10% stays with GDOT to use at it wishes state-wide (i.e. building roads).

Is that how you read it?

And here's another interesting point from the resolution:
The proceeds of the transportation improvement tax shall not be used to replace existing general funds for transportation needs of the county...but shall be used as an additional revenue source to increase funding for transportation projects.
I've contacted Senator Bill Cowsert for confirmation of my reading above, and I will pass along any information I receive.

Thanks to Sen. Cowsert and the other 53 senators for supporting this long overdue resolution!

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