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3 Reasons to Oppose TSPLOST

To all the claims of easing traffic congestion and creating jobs is one columnist's emphatic reply: Baloney.

So much has been said recently about the upcoming TSPLOST referendum that would raise sales taxes for 10 metro Atlanta counties under the guise of providing a "regional solution" to Atlanta's traffic congestion. Obviously, everything we hear from is positive both in terms of its projects and its effects.  

Not only are we supposed to believe that all of the metro area's economic problems are because of our "traffic congestion." Not only will this proposed $18 BILLION dollar solution solve all of our traffic problems, it will provide "thousands" of jobs, improve our performance in attracting companies to relocate to the area and otherwise foster a new spirit of cooperation around the region.

I can only think of one word that would sum up my thoughts on the TSPLOST and the positions of its proponents. BALONEY!

There are many reasons why I oppose TSPLOST. Actually, there are many more. But, I'll try to focus on three main reasons why I oppose it and why I think you should, too.

The first is TRUST. I'm always suspicious of any tax referendum placed on anything BUT the general election ballot. After all, if ALL of us are going to have to pay this tax shouldn't ALL of us be able to vote on the matter? 

Oh sure, we COULD all go to the polls on July 31st for the state primary election. But everyone knows that the turnout for the state primary is merely a fraction of that for the general election. 

Further, we know there will be a huge turnout for the general election, especially for those opposing the "tax and spend" mentality that pervades Washington, D.C. these days. What would be the chances of a TAX INCREASE passing then? Right. Almost ZERO!  

For those of us in Cobb County, it's a 50/50 deal on whether we can trust our political leadership to do the right thing. We were told this past year that IF we did not pass their proposed SPLOST vote that property taxes would have to be raised. Guess what? That's right. Property taxes were raised almost immediately after the SPLOST passed. Coincidence? Maybe. Appearance? 

Commission Chairman Tim Lee played Cobb County voters like a fiddle. In my mind, that was contemptible. And within literally weeks, we're told Cobb Countians should again belly up to the bar and incur even more taxes to essentially expand MARTA's failed system into Cobb County, well at least to Cumberland Mall.

And speaking of trust. Do you REALLY think anticipated contributions from the federal and state government will materialize as promised? If you do, I've got a warehouse full of Chattahoochee Spring Water to sell you.

The federal deficit is currently over $1 TRILLION and the federal debt over $15 TRILLION! They'll be cutting revenue sharing projects like crazy. And of course, state budgets are being strained as a result.  

It seems like we're being asked to put a whole lot of trust in an unelected centralized government agency over which we will have absolutely no control.  That just makes no sense.

Second, it's REGIONAL! Cobb Countians are being asked to contribute over $1 billion to an effort that will be spent primarily on making capital improvements to MARTA and other boondoggles in the City of Atlanta. Oh, I know we're being told that the majority of Cobb's contribution will be on bus transit from Acworth to Midtown Atlanta. 

What we're NOT told is that Plan B can replace Plan A at any time AND that the study on Plan B (the rail line from Cumberland Mall to Midtown Atlanta) won't be completed until AFTER the TSPLOST vote has passed. Hmmm. I guess that goes back to the TRUST issue, too.

Imagine what Cobb County could do with an additional $1 BILLION over the next 10 years. Talk about ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT! We could give COBB COUNTIANS a break by lowering property taxes! Lower property taxes are a major attraction for companies looking to invest in a community.

We could try to stabilize the . You know, the one that balancing (even coming up with) their budget, causing morale and performance problems throughout most of the system. A hundred million dollars a year spent on education in Cobb County might help develop programs for schools in the southern part of the county. 

And how about our own infrastructure needs like sewer, water, waste disposal, public safety, etc.?

And what effect would passing this TSPLOST mean to future SPLOST measures Cobb County (and others for that matter) might want to consider going forward? The Cobb Board of Commissioners and Board of Education already have a severe credibility problem. What's going to happen when we actually need money for real needs IN Cobb County?  

The best way to boost the metro area's economy and economic development potential is for each community to create the best living and business environment possible while recognizing the benefits of being part of the metro area.  

Third, it just doesn't make sense. The supporters of TSPLOST assume all roads lead to Atlanta and that that area ITP (Inside The Perimeter) is the job creation center of all of North Georgia, especially the metro area. 

The Atlanta region is more an accumulation of EXurbs with their own centers of commerce and culture. People move to those areas and CHOOSE to drive their cars ON PURPOSE. They prefer the quality of life away from Atlanta's overcrowded, crime-filled streets.

To force urbanization and mass transit (especially heavy rail) is the height of arrogance of the region's "central planners." Those counties that wish to "connect" with MARTA and provide mass transit alternatives to Atlanta should be free to do so in a way that minimizes costs and maximizes effectiveness.  Each community REALLY DOES know what is best for itself.

Finally, IF the regional brain trust that devised this monstrosity REALLY wanted to foster regional cooperation in a way that was conducive to economic development, they'd find a way to make our REAL economic development engine (Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport) more effective.

A second airport for commuter traffic would do much more for regional cooperation and economic development than this TSPLOST boondoogle.  

Need I remind you to vote NO on TIA or TSPLOST on July 31st.

Margie Spencer June 10, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Can we really trust the GDOT propaganda machine? Will the projects be done in ten years or will we be forced to renew the tax? Shouldn’t GDOT have to earn our trust before we give them an additional eight billion dollars? Some will say it’s better than doing nothing, but I would rather do nothing than give hard earned money to a proven failure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOI_exUO2-s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfiuVHxJJhY&feature=related
Catherine S June 10, 2012 at 03:09 PM
For truth and facts about the transportation referendum / TSPLOST please visit TrafficTruth at http://traffictruth.net/, https://www.facebook.com/TrafficTruth, and @TrafficTruth on Twitter
TIC June 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Good point's Tim. I am all about controlling our own destiny.
ACC-SEC Booster June 12, 2012 at 12:58 AM
"Can we really trust the GDOT propaganda machine?" GDOT is not the "brains" behind the TIA/T-SPLOST public relations campaign. The business community, personified by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Regional Commission, is the real faction that is pushing this tax, which in any case, the answer to your question is still NO. "Will the projects be done in ten years or will we be forced to renew the tax?" The projects will not be anywhere near done in ten years as most of the money allocated for transit projects is only for (more) preliminary study, engineering and limited right-of-way acquisition, which is on purpose in hopes that the public will vote to renew the slush fund, eh, the tax, out of desperation to get what will more than likely be only partially-completed transit projects completed. "Shouldn’t GDOT have to earn our trust before we give them an additional eight billion dollars?" Yes they should, but GDOT itself is not the problem so much as it is the corrupt and incompetent state government that is running it (into the ground).
ACC-SEC Booster June 12, 2012 at 02:13 AM
"The Atlanta region is more an accumulation of EXurbs with their own centers of commerce and culture. People move to those areas and CHOOSE to drive their cars ON PURPOSE. They prefer the quality of life away from Atlanta's overcrowded, crime-filled streets." Mr. Langley, I agree with your view that the Atlanta Region is an accumulation of exurbs with their own centers of commerce and culture. The problem is that Cobb County in particular is no longer an exurb or necessarily completely a suburb. Instead, with the explosive growth of Cobb County over the last five decades, Cobb County which was once, for all intents and purposes, a distant exurb/suburb, has grown to become a key part of the urban core of Metro Atlanta which now also includes mostly urban Fulton County, once suburban but now urban DeKalb and Clayton counties, once completely suburban Cobb County and once completely exurban but now scandal-ridden Gwinnett County which is now arguably the most politically-powerful county in the state. With Cobb County becoming increasingly urban as time goes by and with the county now being an almost indispensible part of the metro area, expect the powers-that-be in Atlanta to always be plotting up ways to either expand the extremely dysfunctional MARTA into Cobb County or directly connect Cobb County to MARTA.
KellyW June 12, 2012 at 05:08 AM
The city of Atlanta has to be more progressive in terms of the way it operates. At the current time Atlanta is growing on a yearly basis and our traffic system has not been improved for years! Light rail transit around the city, interchange improvements on major bottlenecks such as I-285/I-85N and I-285/GA-400 are more projects that the city definitely needs to address and will address with the Regional Transportation Referendum.
Mark A June 16, 2012 at 01:21 AM
if you want to see what's on the table without being told how to think by hyperpartisan tea partiers, try the ARC's nonpartisan site. http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/
Dddeb June 23, 2012 at 09:09 PM
What a joke. This is such a narrow, tunnel vision of our situation and projection of what this could bring us. My point being, we are so far behind in Cobb County to what the rest of the world has done teansportatipn wise. Get a gripe of reality...to grow, well go back, to accommodate growth we must find solutions, the Atl:Cobb transportation options are slim to none. You drive your car or uou are out..period. I know there are many die-hard people who say, so what, they cannot phantom that maybe those people that want to use public transportation as being intelligent. That people might really like the option of not driving everyday. It is a paradigm shift. One that needs selling. I for one have been pleased with resent upgrades and use of Cobb's splosh money. In fact there are too many to mention!

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