Barrow County voters will not see a 1-cent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum on their ballots this November, though it is still possible they could see one at some point next year.
During a meeting of local government officials throughout the county held Thursday, July 25, at the City of Winder’s utilities complex, leaders were in general agreement that more funding is needed for a number of necessary road projects throughout the county, but that they need more time to study a TSPLOST measure and other factors another local sales tax could impact.
“It will take a lot more discussion and getting citizens involved,” said Auburn mayor Linda Blechinger, who cited the need for funding for multiple transportation-related projects within her city, particularly upgrades to roads within subdivisions, some of which she said have not been resurfaced in the last 20 years. “I’m willing to explore (TSPLOST) further, but not for November.”
Winder officials had made a push over the last month to try to present a TSPLOST measure to the voters for approval on the Nov. 5 ballot, when municipal elections throughout the county are scheduled to be held. That would have required the county to call for the referendum by Oct. 4 at the latest.
City administrator Donald Toms organized the meeting and had representatives from the Georgia Municipal Association and ACCG, the state’s county association come to present information on TSPLOST.
If approved, the tax would be in effect for up to five years and generate money for a broad range of transportation-related projects, such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, bike pathways, stormwater infrastructure, etc.
With an intergovernmental agreement between the county and municipalities, up to 1 cent on sales could be collected for the projects and the money would be distributed on a population basis. Without an IGA, only 75 percent of 1 cent could be collected and the state would then determine the distribution formula, said Kathleen Bowen, associate legislative director for ACCG.
Toms and Winder mayor David Maynard said there were at least three specific major projects the city would like to see a TSPLOST help fund, including a widening of Mimosa Street and Linwood Avenue, which is a common cut-through between highways 82 and 11, sidewalks throughout the city and a project to relieve frequent traffic congestion at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Midland Avenue and Athens Street.
“Those are major issues, some are million-dollar projects, but we’re spending a lot of our (state) money trying to maintain what we have,” Maynard said.
See more in the July 31 edition of the Barrow News-Journal.