TSPLOST is the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. It is a statewide referendum on the July 31, 2012 ballot. If it passes, a 1 percent sales tax will be collected for ten years to help improve roads and enhance other transportation related services in Georgia. For the purpose of collecting and administering the funds, Georgia is divided into 12 regions and Savannah is in the Coastal Region.
For Savannah and the Coastal Region, TSPLOST means jobs. If we do not improve our roads, some major businesses that are considering Savannah or Coastal Georgia will locate in other areas of Georgia or other states. Therefore, this is not the time for us to sit at home. It is time for us to go out in large numbers and vote. We need jobs for the citizens of Savannah and the Coastal Region of Georgia, especially during these challenging economic times.
One great feature of TSPLOST is that if the referendum is approved in Coastal Georgia, the funds raised in this area will stay in Coastal Georgia.
75 percent of the funds raisedinthe Coastal Region would go to transportation projects in this area that are considered regional in nature, such as the removal of the I-16 Flyover on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., the DeRenne Improvement Project, and others. The complete list of the projects for the Coastal Georgia Region can be seen on the Georgia Department of Transportation website.
The remaining 25 percent of the funds would come to the Coastal Region as discretionary funding for local transportation projects. Savannah would receive about $52 million that would be used for projects selected by you, the residents of Savannah, and your City Aldermen. There would be more than $8 million used for projects in each City Council District. This money would fund the resurfacing of hundreds of small roads, sidewalk installations, traffic signals and other traffic safety needs. We will be able to get rid of many of the potholes in our neighborhoods.
The Chatham Area Transit Authority will receive more that $60 million in funding for capital expenditures and operations over 10 years. This would mean new buses, additional routes, and other improvements.
Mayor Edna Jackson and the members of the Savannah City Council realize that TSPLOST is a great bargain.
They emphasize the fact that because Savannah is such a tourism center, almost 40 percent of the amount raised that will be used for transportation projects in the Savannah area would be paid by tourists and other visitors to the area…not by residents and property owners.
A large vote in Savannah would indicate to our neighbors in the surrounding communities that we understand and accept our responsibility to help the entire coastal region progress.
There is a great sense of regional unity and we are pleased that Mayor Jackson is helping bring all of the municipalities together for the good of the entire Coastal Georgia Region.
The Tea Party is leading the campaign against the TSPLOST.
Some of those who are campaigning against TSPLOST believe that African-American voters in Savannah will not understand how important this vote is to the progress of our community.
They are not concerned about the people who depend on the bus services provided by the Chatham Area Transit Authority. They also say that we will not even vote on July 31 because African- American community leaders and elected officials are not doing enough to encourage us to vote. Of course, Mayor Jackson, the NAACP and The Savannah Tribune are working hard to disprove this idea.
We hope that you will vote “YES” for TSPLOST by participating in Early Voting, casting an Absentee Ballot, or by going to the polls on Tuesday, July 31.
You should also make sure that your family members, friends and associates vote “YES.” A “YES” vote for TSPLOST is a vote to keep Savannah and Coastal Georgia moving forward.