Some 90 people attended Thursday night’s Georgia Mountains Regional Commission Council meeting, which focused on the July 31 transportation sales tax vote.
The event, which took place at the Community House in Cornelia, featured a presentation by Georgia Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Todd Long and Russell McMurry, the DOT’s engineering division director.
“Questions from the local officials were about the length of tax,” said Teri Pope, spokeswoman at the Gainesville-based District 1. “Many didn’t understand that if the totals are reached early, the tax will end early in that region.”
The tax, if approved by voters, would last 10 years or until the estimated revenue haul of nearly $1.25 billion is reached, whichever comes first.
Pope said that some of the talk revolved around how cities and counties could use their local discretion money, as 75 percent of revenues go toward regional projects and 25 percent goes to local government.
The 25 percent is based on a population and mileage formula, Pope said.
Danny Lewis, executive director of the Gainesville-based GMRC, announced a few websites that people can view: www.connectgeorgiamountains.org, www.connectgeorgia2012.com and www.dot.ga.gov/transportationreferendum.
Toby Carr, newly appointed director of planning for Gov. Nathan Deal, was also present. He officially starts his new post on Tuesday.
The tax will be approved or rejected by voters in each of Georgia’s 12 regional planning areas.
The Georgia Mountains region has 13 counties, including Hall.
Opposition to the tax is strong, especially among tea partyers, with campaigns mounting on either side.
The Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce issued buttons that say “I’m voting YES! for transportation on July 31” at its board of directors meeting last week.
Hall County’s Lanier Tea Party has held a rally against the proposed tax and put videos on its website, lanierteapartypatriots.org, in opposition. The video declares that “This T-Splost is poison.”
Area projects closer to construction
A couple of area major road projects are moving toward construction.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is reviewing bids on widening Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway between Interstate 985 and McEver Road, a 1.7-mile stretch in South Hall.
Bids were opened April 20, with the two lowest bids in the $11 million range.
The bid opening for the widening of Ga. 347/Friendship Road between I-985 and Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway is set for June 15.
Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: