If you live in Atlanta, you can’t avoid the acronym TSPLOST. Not in the local paper, not on the news, not on this blog, and certainly not on social media. What’s really struck me as how much passion that this issue has elicited. I can only hope that this translates in to voter turnout.
A good friend of mine, Andy Kobylivker, recently penned an email in support of TSPLOST. I don’t typically feature guest bloggers, but I feel that his message is on point, and quite frankly, critical to the future of our region.
Please read it. Please vote (yes).
Wanted to send out an email encouraging you to consider voting Yes in the upcoming TSPLOST vote. This is obviously a complex, major issue. I have tried to understand at least some of what’s at stake, and I will try to briefly give MY view after reading the pros and cons over the past 6 months, in addition to discussing this with a good number of people. Also, as a native Atlantan who has been here for some time, has been involved in some political work at the state capital over the years, and wants this city to continue to grow and improve, I want to share my thoughts with those of you who may have only recently moved here.
1) We are 49th in the country in investement into roads/transportation infrastructure as a state.
2) JUST TO GET TO THIS POINT WHERE A REFERENDUM WAS EVEN ALLOWED TO BE PLACED ON THE BALLET, IT TOOK 3-4 yrs OF LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS. This is because every year that this came up, it died in the last days of the session (the session only meets for 40 days, once a yr). There is a real divide between the rest of GA and Atlanta, and though people are working on trying to bridge the gap, this has been a MAJOR issue over the past 5 yrs.
3) The gas tax, one of the lowest in the country, will likely never be increased by a strongly conservative state legislature.
4) If the tax fails, there is no suitable, ready to go plan B. At the very least, another vote may come up in 2 yrs (2014) but its unclear if politicians will have the will power to get it together as they did this time. Already, some of those who sat on the roundtable are being aggressively challenged by other more conservative, anti-tax candidates in primary elections (see Cobb County)
5) The cost of the tax per person per year will be around 130 dollars (>18 yrs of age). Lost productivity in sitting around in traffic, gasoline, etc is estimated to be 950 dollars per year per person.
6) Companies are choosing to relocate businesses to cities that invest in to infrastructure. Places like Charlotte, Dallas, and Houston are already some years ahead in transportation infrastructure. Atlanta currently has the same number of jobs as it did in 2001.
7) July voting elections are notorious for low turnout. SO TURNOUT WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. THATS WHY I’M ASKING YOU TO CONSIDER VOTING!
8) This is a major source of funding for the BeltLine, a massive in-town project which is thought to be one of the most aggressive, forward-thinking re-development plans in the country at this time.
9) The 400 toll is ending (finally; it was supposed to be ended more recently, but extended by a lame duck Sonny Perdue) and so further transportation funding is a big question
Is this a perfect piece of legislation? NO, absolutely not. There is 52% transit investments, 48% road infrastructure investment. Are there some flaws with the bill? Likely, yes. However, there will always be people unhappy with things like this on both sides of the aisles. Some think not enough roads, some think not enough transit.
The above is just my two cents.
Here are the places to vote early (you can vote this week Monday-Friday)
1) Cobb County: East Cobb Government Center, 4400 Lower Roswell RD (8-5pm) all week;
2) Dekalb County: Downtown Decatur, 330 W Ponce De Leon Rm A;
3) Fulton County: North Fulton Goverment Annex, 7741 Roswell Rd, Suite 232, Sandy Springs (8:30-5PM); South Fulton Government Anex, 5600 Stonewall Tell Rd, room 108, College Park
Forward this email on to your friends. Its flagrantly biased, and pro-yes vote. However, I dont think the status quo is a good option and I want to see this city improve and succeed.
I’m happy to give more than my two cents if you want to call me about this subject.
PHOTO CREDIT: USA Today