The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

TPLOST essential for keeping our quality of life


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 29, 2019 - 10:43 PM

What would you think about a tax that substantially improves our transportation but is mostly funded by citizens from other counties?

One of the best things about living in Coweta County is the commitment of our citizens to the steady improvement of our community. I have always believed that a great community has to invest in five key areas: 1) public safety, 2) education, 3) transportation infrastructure 3) outdoor recreation, and 5) cultural and social experiences. Together we have all invested in our community and have seen the positive results that come from that investment.

Because the quality of life in our county is so good we have seen unprecedented growth in the number of our citizens. This growth has been good for our county but the growth has also created challenges. Probably our biggest challenge is the pressure growth has put on our local transportation infrastructure. If we are to maintain the lifestyle we enjoy, we have to make new, thoughtful, and intelligent investments in transportation.

Recognizing this, in 2017 the Board of Commissioners established a Joint Transportation Coordinating Committee to assess our county-wide transportation system. This committee’s work included numerous public meetings and an online survey to solicit public input. From that work, 62 transportation projects have been identified.

On the November 5th ballot is a referendum for a Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax or TSPLOST. The TSPLOST is a one percent tax that would apply to most sales that take place within our county (but not apply to the purchase of homes, cars and gasoline). TSPLOST, by law would last only five years or until $125 million is raised.

I strongly support TSPLOST for several reasons. First, the money generated by TSPLOST is provided not only by our citizens but also by the citizens of other counties who regularly shop here. Based on a very recent, independent study of Coweta County, just over 77 percent of all sales tax collections come from shoppers who live outside of Coweta! Essentially people from other counties will pay over ¾ of all of the taxes that TSPLOST will generate, thereby supporting Coweta’s transportation improvements!

Second, under Georgia Law, TSPLOST funds must be used exclusively for the 62 specific transportation projects and no other purpose.

Finally, TSPLOST is not only equitable but also provides a lower overall tax for our citizens. If we were to fund this $125 million investment in transportation through property taxes instead of TSPLOST, an increase of around 5.2 mills would be required. For the average Coweta home, a 5.2 mill increase in property tax would come to $317.20 per year.

To pay an equal amount in TSPLOST, our citizens would have to spend $31,720 per year within Coweta County (31,720 x 1 percent = $317.20). That is a whopping $610 per week for 52 consecutive weeks! TSPLOST is simply the cheapest and most efficient way to continue to invest wisely in our county.

Because we desire to continue to live in a great community we must continue to invest in transportation. We have the choice of either a substantial increase in the millage rate, which will impact only Coweta citizens or we can implement TSPLOST which will be a lower overall tax and will require citizens of other counties to help pay for our transportation infrastructure improvements.

I have made my choice. I support the ongoing improvement to our community, using sensible tax policies and allowing non-residents to substantially pay for our transportation infrastructure development. I will vote YES for TSPLOST and I encourage all of my fellow citizens to vote YES too.

Steve Swope

Newnan, Georgia