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No backup plan to T-SPLOST
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The Regional Roundtable has voted to approve the final list of projects to be paid for by a proposed one-cent on the dollar sales tax for transportation known as T-SPLOST.

It was a pretty routine meeting and the process went like clockwork, said the regions non-voting Senatorial representative Steve Gooch. The real challenge is whether the voters will approve a new sales tax. Cities and counties are going to have to get out and justify the need.

For Dawson, four projects made the final version of the lista northeast connector/bypass on Georgia 400 and Highway 53; a roundabout at Dawson Forest and Highway 9; the widening of Lumpkin Campground Road from Georgia 400 to Dawson Forest, making the two-lane into a four-lane; and a bridge replacement on State Route 224.

Collections for Dawson County are expected to be about $44,500,000. The largest portion75 percentgoes to fund the projects on the list. The remaining 25 percent can be used by the counties/cities for local projects such as patching, paving or any transportation project, including bike lanes and walking trails.

That 25 percent is at least as important for the counties in the region as the projects, said Dawson County Commissioner Mike Berg.

We get about $200,000 a year now in LMIG [Local Maintenance Investment Grant], he said. The 25 percent of the T-SPLOST we would get would be about $1.2 million a year, and we could use it for paving, filling pot holes, any transportation projecteven bike lanes and walking trails. We never, ever get that kind of money from DOT.

A yes vote is also important for another reason, Berg said. If it passes in the region, the match for LMIG is reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent.

If the roundtable had not voted to put the T-SPLOST on the ballot, we would have to give 50 percent for matching funds. Just by putting it on the ballot we now only have to match 30 percent, and if it passes, its only 10 percent, he said.

Berg said he believes the initiative has an even chance of passing in the North Georgia Mountains Region.

Hall and Forsyth counties control about 62 percent of the voting populace. If 50 percent of them vote for it, and 50 percent of the other 11 counties, it will pass, he said.

The region is made up of Lumpkin, Hall, Habershm, White, Towns, Union, Rabun, Dawson, Forsyth, Banks, Franklin, Hart and Stephens counties.

Gooch said Hall and Forsyth counties alone could pass the one-cent sales tax.

If it doesnt pass, however, he said, Theres no backup plan. Its either this or nothing.