V I E W P O I N T S
Editor's Note: This is a letter to the editor from Donna M. Street.
I write with some thoughts in favor of the TSPLOST.
It was stated at the Chamber Luncheon (April 19) that the biggest problem Georgia will face in the foreseeable future is transportation. If you were in Trenton on Sunday afternoon, then you saw a foreshadowing of how bad it could be in Trenton and Dade County. One overturned transfer truck basically held us captive at the traffic lights in Trenton for several hours. And I thought school traffic was bad!
Before you go to the polls, please consider what an opportunity would be created for improving both the city and the county. The State of Georgia took the gasoline sales tax and changed it to an excise tax a couple of years ago. That meant that Dade County and Trenton lost all sales tax for gasoline and that took a big chunk out of the local budgets.
We took a hit with the tornadoes and floods that have caused unusual road collapses (Murphy Hollow Road and Cole City). Do you remember the flooding on Christmas Day in 2015? When these kinds of natural disasters occur there is very little money that can be moved in either the city or the county budget. Until TSPLOST was allowed at the local level, then property owners were the only recourse for building and repairing roads.
One mil in Dade County is worth about $253,000. To complete the projects that are on the list for this TSPLOST for the next five years, the cost is estimated at 7.75 million dollars. That figures to 6 mils per year for the next five years. Could you even pay your taxes at that rate of increase? Most people in Dade and Trenton live from one check to the next. Jerry Bryan taught me this phrase about 30 years ago, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is one bite at a time. Or in this case one penny at a time.
I called Billy Massengale [the Dade County roads chief] and asked him what it costs to pave a mile of road in Dade County today. The average cost for one mile (paved by an outside company) is $100,000 with one and a half inches of asphalt. If the work is done by the county road crew then the average cost for a mile is from $47,000 to $53,000 and that is putting two inches of asphalt. You can see that this is expensive. Personally, I want it paid for one penny at a time, rather than through my property taxes.
If you on live or drive Hales Gap, Murphy Hollow, Burkhalter, Back Valley, Slygo, New Home, Old Cloverdale, Walls Circle, Yankee, or Creek (north from Sarah’s Chapel, Mason Road (cemetery south), Morganville Ridge, Piney, Scratch Ankle, or Sells Lane, then all or part of these roads are at the top of the county list for use of TPLOST repairs and repaving. A study was done of Hales Gap and it was noted that 60 percent of the cars on that road are out of state and out of county. Most of our neighbors who drive through Dade County also shop here and with passage of TSPOST, they can help to pay for the roads on which they drive.
With 17 separate items on the program summary for the TSPLOST, I will admit that some items may be cut if the sales tax does not live up to estimation, but they have been listed in priority order on the county website. The gentleman in last week’s letter to the editor called out a few things that haven’t been done since we passed the first one in the late 80s. Some things cost more than one SPLOST can pay for. So they appear on the lists over and over again. Sewer could be on a list for the rest of my life and still everyone would not get sewer.
You and I don’t hesitate for a moment about paying 8 or 9 cents in sales tax to Hamilton, Jackson or DeKalb Counties. Going to Walmart in Tiftonia is a ritual for some families. I understand. Lowe’s at Kimball is one of my favorite places.
Please go vote and vote FOR the TSPLOST. Let’s pave the road to our future – one penny at a time.
Donna M. Street
720 Brow Road