IN BRIEF: After much discussion, the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce board voted today to support the penny regional transportation tax referrendum, known as TSPLOST, that's on the ballot in July.
The vote, 19-7, took place during a special called meeting on Wednesday.
Board president Lorraine Harrison said the Chamber had previously included the TSPLOST on its legislative agenda but wanted to get more information and take a stance as a board.
"There was interest in making sure everyone understood the long term benefits and what we were voting on. The consensus was that this was a program that was vital to the region’s economic development," said Harrison.
"I look at this like the decision Atlanta made years ago to build the Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Traffic in Atlanta affects our ability to attract quality businesses. I think this is as important as the airport was years ago." She said the money from TSPLOST used for projects in Rockdale or affecting Rockdale would free up other funds for local projects.
Former city councilman Marty Jones, who was among the board members who voted against supporting the TSPLOST, said the issue for him was one of fairness.
"It comes down to a fairness issues and the way the projects are allocated in the 10 county region. I always expected to be a donor county. I don’t have a problem with that. A lot of our folks drive into Atlanta. But my issue became how much of a donor county Rockdale County turned into," he said.
He estimated Rockdale would receive about 72 percent of its money back, through its three projects on the TSPLOST list and the 15 percent that would come back annually for local projects. However, most of the outlier counties in the 10-county metro Atlanta region that also ended up being donor counties, such as Douglas, Fayette, or Cherokee, would see more than 90 percent of its funds back.
"The powers that be didn’t really care bout us. It shows in the numbers," said Jones.