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DOT leader to meet with area planners about road tax
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A top official with the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to meet with local leaders Sept. 14 about the state's plans for the 1-cent sales tax for transportation.

Todd Long, planning director and formerly of Gainesville-based District 1, "plans to discuss the (law) and address any questions or concerns," said Srikanth Yamala, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The meeting is set for 4 p.m. at Oakwood City Hall, 4035 Walnut Circle.

The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 has been a hot topic among area government leaders since coming out of the General Assembly earlier this year.

At a July 26 meeting of the Joint Municipal Association, Oakwood City Councilman Gary Anderson called the tax "just a new way to fund" the financially strapped DOT and "put the responsibility on the local elected officials."

"This is a fiasco. I think we need to tell our legislators this is crazy," he said.

And then the planning organization's policy committee took the law to task at its June 8 meeting.

Mike Miller, interim Flowery Branch mayor, said, "If (the state revenue department) can't keep up with our tax dollars, why are we going to start giving them another penny ... if we don't know where it's going to go?"

The law allows voters within established districts throughout Georgia to decide whether to add the sales tax to pay for transportation and transit improvements, from new roads to maintenance and operation.

Two representatives from each of the 13 counties, including Hall, in the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission now must form a regional transportation roundtable.

To proceed toward a 2012 vote on the tax, that group must hold its first meeting after Nov. 15 and decide on a final project list by Oct. 15, 2011.

In a June interview, Long talked about Georgia's road-funding ills.

"We can be in a situation where our revenue is less in 10 years from now than it is today," he said. "Throw in inflation ... and it's a bad deal."

Despite the gloomy forecast, Long said he is encouraged by work that has been done looking at Georgia's future transportation needs and strategies.

"For the first time ever, we have developed what I call a business plan for transportation," he said.

 

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