February 24, 2015
At the February 19, 2015 Jasper County BOC meeting, the Commissioners were asked about HB 170 (see important information below). After the comments, Comm. Trammell said it wouldn’t hurt the county at all, but it would hurt the Schools. What figures has Comm. Trammell been given to say it wouldn’t hurt the county at all, when other counties in the State are coming up with millions in losses?
Maybe he realizes NO FIGURES the BOC receives can be trusted or are relevant. We must wonder if the BOC has even asked how much sales tax comes into Jasper County each month or year from gas sales. It would be a good bet they don’t have a clue. But why would they care if all they have to do is vote to increase those taxes by 6% and you have no say!
That is what HB 170 is all about—transportation funding. But don’t be fooled. All local money will go to the State and the State (appointed boards) will be in control. The counties stand to lose millions that YOU will have to make up.
Transportation funding is a big deal this year in the Georgia Legislature. What is strange about this is neither Rep. Holmes nor Senator Jones has mentioned it their weekly columns in the local paper. Governor Nathan Deal wants the Legislature to come up with $1.5 Billion for transportation, and the proposal will make you pay higher taxes on gasoline.
House Bill 170 (HB 170) would phase out the state’s sales tax on motor fuel and increase the state excise tax from 7.5 cents per gallon to 29.2 cents per gallon to help with “transportation” and infrastructure in Georgia. Sounds good, right? $1.5 billion would be raised simply by taking gasoline tax funds that currently go to local governments and transferring it to the state. Here’s the kicker– YOU are left making up the difference the county loses.
The taxes from Jasper County’s Local Option Sales Tax, SPLOST, and ELOST (3% in all) would go straight to the STATE with this proposed HB 170. Many cities and counties have signed resolutions opposing this because of the loss of money to the county, cities, and schools.
Based on articles in several papers throughout the State, over $500,000,000 would have to be funded by local taxpayers with higher gas taxes or property taxes to fill the gap so the State can fund “transportation” projects.
Never fear! With such opposition, the Georgia’s Legislative Transportation Committee and ACCG have come up with a fix. The local county commissioners can just VOTE all by themselves, without a referendum of the people, to raise the sales tax 6% on gasoline sold in the county. The ability to allow a majority vote of 5 county commissioners and not a referendum of the people is against all the current laws. This will be a double sales tax to make up for the money lost to the State under this “transportation plan.” The Georgia Municipal Association, representing cities, opposes the bill.
Some county commissions have now backed off of their opposition since, hey, all they have to do is just raise your taxes and tell you “tourist” and “out of town people” will make up part of that and you will get the benefit. Don’t believe any of it! You will be paying more and more taxes.
Those that support this bill will tell you this is to fund roads and bridges. Ask the question, whose roads and bridges? Again, don’t be fooled. This is about more than roads and bridges. The bill now defines “transportation” as a much broader term, adding public transportation (MARTA) and ports (Savannah). Here is what is included:
Georgia’s Constitution requires that all gas taxes be used for roads, but this bill attempts to redefine “transportation purposes” to include “public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports, and all accompanying infrastructure and services necessary to provide access to these transportation facilities.”
Talk about expansion of big government! In Georgia, public transit is not financially viable – MARTA stays bankrupt. Public transit is a black hole for taxpayers – period. Seaports and rail are privately held business ventures.
Cronyism plays a big role as well. Thanks to the Valdosta Tea Party for the following information (and remember the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is all behind this bill like they were the TSPLOST that was defeated by ¾ of the voters of the state):
One highlight of their plan includes “Recapitalize the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank so that a revolving, self-sustaining, loan/grant fund is created to incentivize governments, authorities, CIDs and other entities to provide matching funds for local construction of projects.”[emphasis added]
”Other entities” would be those Public/Private/Partnerships with large corporations that get those juicy no-bid contracts and loans through the Infrastructure Bank. Taxpayers get stuck with any losses, while the private corporations get the profits – hence Public/Private.
Can you imagine how much fun the cronies would have with this? We imagine it would be very easy to hide money and contracts using this bank. A taxpayer-supported loan/grant fund for unelected boards and “authorities” just doesn’t pass the smell test in America.
The bank’s board is where the POWER lies–Section 5-1 of the bill states, “’Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank Act,’ is amended by revising subsection (b) of Code Section 32-10-127, relating to loans and other financial assistance and the determination of eligible projects, as follows: “(b) The board shall determine which projects are eligible projects and then select from among the eligible projects qualified projects.” The power grab is breathtaking. The bill authors want transportation projects decided by a small power-elite at the Infrastructure Bank.
The details of this bill are ever changing, but there is one thing for sure, if you want to pay more taxes, sit back and do nothing, because if this bill passes you will. If you want to voice your concerns contact Rep. Susan Holmes and Sen. Burt Jones.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.