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Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:08

GDOT Confronts Highway Sales Tax ‘Rumors’

State Department of Transportation Policy and Projects Special Assistant Stephanie Carter September 7 in Gainesville advised Kiwanis Club members not to reject the new regional sales tax for transportation until they understand how it works and what it does.

The sales tax referendum goes before the voters in 2012, not this November, and a regional road project list won’t come out until next year. The 10 year, one cent sales tax goes into effect in 2013.

“Until you actually see the project list and what the one penny is going to fund, I think it’s a little short sighted to come out against the penny,” Carter said.

Last week Hall Farm Bureau members voted against the measure, fearing it could cut funding for Hall County projects.

Carter, who reports directly to Transportation Commissioner Vance Smith, said the new Transportation Investment Act would not stop the flow of funding.

“The money that is raised in this region stays in the region,” she said. “I think a lot of folks are afraid that the money raised here will build new interchanges in Atlanta and that’s not the case.”

Gainesville and Hall County are in the Georgia Mountains Region and Carter said monies raised in the region would go back into its infrastructure. Carter added that DOT would continue to spend money for transportation in Gainesville and Hall County.

Carter said 75 percent of the money is going to be spent on regional projects while 25 percent would go back to the region’s county commissioners and mayors.

On November’s General Election ballot this year there is a voter referendum that stretches funding for state transportation projects.

According to Carter Referendum (3) allows GDOT multi-year contracts on highway projects.

“So if a project is going to cost $100-million but it’s going to take three years to build they could fund it in Year One with $30-million, Year Two with $30-million and Year Three with $40-million,” Carter said. “Right now if we have to put aside that entire $100-million that money is tied up in that project even though it takes three years.If we could move to multi-year contracts it would allow us to get more projects out the door in this fiscal year and in the next and the next.”

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