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Campaign for T-SPLOST starting to build

Posted: May 5, 2012 - 11:02pm  |  Updated: May 6, 2012 - 7:48am

As local officials line up behind the transportation sales tax referendum, or T-SPLOST, I continue to doubt the public will join the parade.

The referendum, on July 31 ballots, will allow voters across the state to approve an additional 1-percent sales tax, with the money going to transportation projects.

Some folks have attacked lawmakers for merely putting the issue on the ballot, but I certainly don’t want to complain when voters are given a direct say in their own taxation. Surely none of the opponents would prefer to not be allowed to vote?

That argument is moot anyway. It’s on the ballot. If anyone wants to oppose the issue, it’s up to them to persuade voters to agree.

Already, those who want the T-SPLOST are planning to take their sales pitch to the public.

The first airing of their strategy locally came last fall during the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Pre-Legislative Breakfast. There, Georgia’s director of economic development said T-SPLOST was vital for upgrading the state’s infrastructure to handle increased freight traffic from the deepening of the Savannah Harbor.

That won’t fit on a bumper sticker.

But on Thursday, at the chamber’s Post-Legislative Breakfast, most of the lawmakers made at least a reference in support of T-SPLOST as a tool for economic development.

It’s fitting that the topic got a few mentions at the chamber breakfast, because the chamber is planning to provide a sales pitch for the referendum. They’ll hold two public hearings on T-SPLOST: at 6 p.m. June 6 at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, and at 6 p.m. July 24 in the government center auditorium.

Will it sell? I still don’t think so. I just don’t see voters approving a tax hike on themselves these days.

Once the sales pitch cranks up, I’ll be curious to see whether an effort organizes to defeat the referendum here, similar to those underway in Atlanta.


Christine deployed

Back in December, Columbia County Chief Magistrate Bobby Christine said he wouldn’t seek re-election. He’s a lieutenant colonel in the Georgia National Guard, and said he was told he’d be called to active duty this year.

That call came last week. As announced during Thursday’s Chamber meeting, Christine is going on active duty as of May 14.

Unlike his previous callups, when he served in Iraq, this time he’ll be taking the place of an active-duty Jag Corps soldier who is being sent to Afghanistan. Christine likely will be posted to Atlanta.

Going back on active duty prevents him from running for office, and because he’s an attorney who will have to put his practice on hold, it also will squeeze his wallet. But getting posted just down the road certainly eases the burden.

Now: Will the folks who doubted his reason for declining to seek re-election crawl back out of the woodwork to admit they were wrong?


(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/

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Comments (4)

Craig Spinks


Why does the T-SPLOST contain so little funding for modes of transportation such as walking and cycling? Maybe the proposed tax would be better denominated as the R(oad)-SPLOST.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence


Georgia's Director of Development...

The state director of development says T-SPLOST is necessary due to the deepening of Savannah Harbor. Let's look at that issue for a minute. Deepening the harbor will more than likely eventually require greater flows from Thurmond Lake to prevent salt water intrusion around Savannah. In addition, Charleston is going to also deepen its harbor to accommodate the super ships. Dredging both harbors to the required depths will cost about a billion dollars. Keep in mind the two cities are about 100 miles apart. Do we actually need TWO super harbors that close together? We hear about studies showing the economic impact on the entire state of the port of Savannah, but I'll wager a study would show Charleston helps Georgia also in this age of interstate highways. Let's save a half billion and the highway funds this bureaucrat says is necessary because of the harbor dredging.


Why do we play shell games?

The *-SPLOST is nothing more than diverted taxes. I will not be voting for another one-percent SPLOST. People need to remember our actual sales tax in Columbia County is only 5%. We the people added 1% for Education, and another 1% for County Projects. If politicians keep adding more *-SPLOST, we may lose all SPLOST funding.

To Mr. Christine, thank you for your service and the sacrifice your family endure during your deployment.

Little Lamb

New Tax

Let us not forget that the TSPLOST is an additional tax, a new economic burden for us citizens to bear. The beneficiaries will be the road-building contractors who have good-ole-boy benefactors in the DOT.

Also, let us remember that this proposed tax system is regional. One of the main projects that got put into the regional package is a huge subsidy toward operation and maintenance of Augusta's bus system. I am scratching my head wondering why Columbia Countians want to tax themselves to pay for Augusta's bus system?

Vote NO! on TSPLOST.