Candidates Discuss Benefits, Drawbacks of TSPLOST
Some candidates have favorable view of transportation tax, others opposed to the 1 percent sales tax.
In the sixth and final segment of our weeklong series, Dacula Patch asked each of the candidates for chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners if he or she favored the imposition of a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects (editor's note: The original version of this article referred to the tax as a statewide tax. It will be voted on statewide, but will be implemented by region according to the outcome of the vote within each region.)
The transportation tax, or TSPLOST, is set to go before the voters in 2012.
Candidates Charlotte Nash of Dacula, Larry Gause of Tucker, Gerald Duane Kissel of Snellville and Will Costa of Lilburn were each asked if they support the TSPLOST and what projects they would like to see funded should the tax pass.
Dacula Patch did not limit the length of the responses. Each candidate’s answer is presented unedited and in its entirety.
Dacula Patch asked, “Are you in favor of the TSPLOST? What local projects would you like to see funded?”
DUANE KISSEL: At this time, I am not in favor of a TSPLOST. There are too many other issues in our current economic state that needs to be addressed. Gwinnett County started a Bus transit system several years ago. I often see these buses running virtually empty and still not serving the entire 437 square miles of the county. Many citizens have no access to our existing public transportation. Although Public transportation is sorely needed county wide, now is not the time to expend any project in this area. Higher priories exist.
LARRY GAUSE: No, I am not in favor of the TSPLOST. First, the county has not shown taxpayers that they have the ability to manage our money. Until they do, I would vote no on raising taxes to fund future projects.
Second, in order to support the TSPLOST, all proposals would need to have a breakdown of their costs, start dates, expected construction times, and be investigated to check if it they have been value-engineered to reduce costs even more.
Third, in order to support the TSPLOST, the projects would need to be equally divided among the five districts that make up Gwinnett County. Someone in Lilburn is not going to want their taxes raised to support improvements to Suwannee and vice versa.
If the above conditions were met and the TSPLOST were enacted, I would be in favor of local projects to address traffic light synchronization; code enforcement; and illegal immigration, to name a few.
CHARLOTTE NASH: The majority of the funds which would be generated by the proposed regional TSPLOST must be used for regionally significant projects, but a portion (15 percent in the Atlanta region) may be used for local projects. There are certainly many projects wholly or partially within Gwinnett that are regionally significant.
The Atlanta region has massive needs for transportation improvements, and the proposed regional TSPLOST represents one option for funding projects selected for inclusion on the project list that is ultimately created for consideration in the 2012 referendum. I favor giving voters the chance to decide whether the proposed project list is worth the imposition of the additional penny of sales tax.
Some projects within Gwinnett that I think are worth consideration include improvement / widening of existing roads and bridges, especially intersections that are safety hazards or bottlenecks. Shifting of operating costs for Gwinnett Transit system to regional TSPLOST funding could save County General Fund dollars for other priorities. Looking to the future, rail will likely need to be a part of Gwinnett’s transportation mix. The regional TSPLOST probably has the best potential as a funding mechanism for a rail line in the western part of the County. Since rail projects require a lengthy planning and implementation time period, funding for at least the initial phases for such a line could be considered for inclusion in the regional TSPLOST proposed project list. The portion set aside for local projects should be primarily dedicated to rehabilitation, maintenance and efficiency of existing transportation infrastructure.
WILL COSTA: Taxes on consumption are better ways to fund government then taxes on property and production. I am ok with the T SPLOST but like most projects that are funded by government we have to reduce the amount of funds available because I have never seen a project that comes in under budget. (the contractor always spends the full budget and it is time the make do with a reduced budget…. Many families in Gwinnett are!)