(This excerpt is from our 2012 Primary Guide, which is on stands now. For a guide to local candidates in contested races for county, judicial, clerk of courts, and state House seats, see the list below of locations where you can pick up the Rockdale News.)
First of all, SPLOST stands for Special Project Local Option Sales Tax. The 1 percent sales tax has been used in counties for years to pay for major capital projects, including new buildings, equipment, parks and roads.
Rockdale already has a 1-percent SPLOST for county projects, such as the jail expansion, repairing leaky water pipes, and previously it helped fund the library expansion. Rockdale also has a 1-percent E-SPLOST for the public school system, to repair school buildings and build classrooms, and a 1-percent HOST, to alleviate property taxes for homesteaded Rockdale residents.
However, roads have historically received a small portion of SPLOSTs, which are passed on a county-by-county basis.
The T-SPLOST works off the same basic principal, expect this is a regional SPLOST that can only be used to pay for transportation (roads, mass transit, airports) projects of regional importance.
The idea is a two-fold one. First, the state is broke. Money for transportation has been slim in Georgia for years because of declining tax revenues and debt payments that are reaching hundreds of million of dollars as a result of former Gov. Sonny Perdue's aggressive road program during the early part of the current century, according to articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. State lawmakers have also been hesitant to raise the politically-sensitive gas tax, which is a major source of transportation revenue.
Secondly, individual counties would be hard pressed to raise enough money on their own to fund major road or mass transit projects that can easily cost tens of millions of dollars.
Under the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, the state was divided into 12 regions for purposes of the T-SPLOST; each region will vote independently on its own project list.
However, if the majority of voters in a given region vote for the T-SPLOST, then every county in that region will have to participate. Similarly, if the majority of voters in a region vote against T-SPLOST, then no counties in that region would participate.
If passed, the 1 percent sales tax is estimated to collect around $6.14 billion around the region over 10 years.
Rockdale falls into the 10-county metro Atlanta region, which also includes Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and the city of Atlanta.
A 21-member Regional Roundtable, made up of county commission heads and one mayor from each county, approved a list last year of more than 150 projects that the T-SPLOST would fund. To view the list, click here or go to http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/documents/final_report.pdf
That list includes about $67.3 million for three Rockdale specific projects - the widening of the Sigman Road corridor, widening of Flat Shoals Road from Salem Road to Old Salem Road, and the creation of an overpass over I-20 near the Conyers Crossroads shopping center. Rockdale will also receive a portion of about $1 billion going back to local jurisdictions for transportation projects.
Rockdale would be a "donor" county, with Rockdale giving more than it would receive in direct project dollars.
Critics estimate Rockdale would see anywhere from half to two-thirds of the funds it collects. Former city Councilman Marty Jones estimated Rockdale would receive about 72 percent of its money back, through its three projects on the T-SPLOST 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.
Conyers Mayor Randy Mills pointed out Rockdale residents and commuters would feel the effects of transportation projects funded by the T-SPLOST even if the projects aren't directly in the county.
Here's a list of where you can find The News:
McDonalds: 1320 Klondike Rd SW, Conyers, GA 30094
Bojangles: 1970 Highway 138 NE Conyers, GA 30013
Covington News and Rockdale News: 1166 Usher St NW, Covington, GA
Walgreens: 12955 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA 30016
BP Food Mart: 3501 Salem Rd. ( across from Kirkland Rd.)
Ingles on Salem Rd.
Park and Ride at former Church in the Now (now Springfield Baptist), Dogwood Dr.
Cheveron Food Mart, Eastview Rd.
Rockdale Hospital, Emergency Room, Milstead Ave.
Rockdale Medical Hospital new main entrance
Walgreens: 1510 Milstead Ave.
Publix: 1591 Ga Hwy 20
Scottish Tobacco: Sigman Rd in Fred's Shopping Center
Cheveron Food Mart: 993 Sigman Rd.
Park N Ride at Chambers Drive, off Sigman Rd.
Evans Pharmacy on Main St Conyers
Shell on West Ave & Green St
Flash Foods Corner off Hwy 138 Ebenezer Rd.
Quik Chik on Klondike Rd.
USA Package on West Ave.
Subway on West Ave.
American Deli on West Ave, next to grocery store
Texaco Plaza, Klondike Rd. SW
Chick-fil-a on 138
Kroger on Hwy 138 and also on flat Shoals
Roly Poly on Hwy 138 and Flat Shoals
Oaks Diner on Flat Shoals Rd.
Walgreens #10479 on Hwy 138
Crossroads Cheveron on Hwy 138 & Hwy 212
Publix on Hwy 212
Ingles on Hwy 20 & Honey Creek Rd.
4669 Hwy 20, corner of Bell Rd.
Or if you'd like to sign up for our special $5/year subscription offer for home delivery, so you don't miss any editions of The News, call Teresa Fricke at 678-750-5016.