TSPLOST: A Noble Idea Has Been Hijacked
The chairman of The Council on Public Policy explains why the organization encourages voters to oppose the Transportation Investment Act on July 31 at the polls.
Kent Gildersleeve, acting chairman of The Council of Public Policy writes:
The Council on Public Policy, at its regular meeting this month, determined to recommend a “NO” vote on the regional transportation referendum, a.k.a. “TSPLOST.”
This tax will not relieve traffic congestion; it will dry up other transportation funding for years, and it offers nothing to many suburbs.
TSPLOST does not meet the declared objective of the legislation–reducing regional traffic congestion. Proponents admit that the 52 percent allocated to transit is intended to stimulate commercial property development. The Atlanta Beltline is not a regional project. Major regional needs, such as the I-75 to I-285 Interchange don’t get a dime.
The monies allocated to transit projects will only pay for initial phases. The $689 million budgeted to the Cobb transit is only the beginning of a $3 billion project. Transit construction will commit us to additional taxes beyond the 10-year TSPLOST to pay for maintenance and operations. Look to MARTA for proof of the ongoing losses. Once the 1 percent sales tax starts, it will be extremely difficult to get other local SPLOSTS passed. Local improvements will become rare.
Important suburbs like Southwest Cobb will pay the taxes but get no significant projects. Other items, such as I-85 in Gwinnett, are just studies. There is no money for completing the projects.
TSPLOST started as a noble idea, a way to really help traffic congestion. Now the vision has blurred, as special interests cut their slice from the pie. The existing legislation provides for a new referendum after two years.
The Council on Public Policy recommends a NO vote on July 31st.
The Council on Public Policy is an Atlanta-based organization of active civic and business leaders dedicated to open exploration of issues, ideas and alternatives for optimal performance of our governments. The Council employs a balanced and consistent process of issue definition, study, deliberation, debate and collective resolution to matters of local importance. Recommendations arising from this process are channeled to influence public policies and actions. The Council is politically non-partisan.