T-SPLOST supporters gather in Henry

Two local groups are set to present opposing views to Southern Crescent area residents regarding the upcoming Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) referendum, scheduled for a vote this summer on July 31.

The Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee will host supporters of the legislation during a luncheon meeting, today, from 11:30 a.m., to 1 p.m., regarding the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (TIA). The act calls for a T-SPLOST.

Another meeting, which challenges the T-SPLOST, will be held, next Monday, at 7 p.m., in the Community Room of the Henry County Government Annex, in 116 Zack Hinton Pkwy., McDonough. Next Monday’s event is being organized by a group calling itself the Henry County 9-12 Project.

The T-SPLOST referendum advocates a 1-cent sales tax to fund $6.14 billion in road projects, over 10 years, for a 10-county area that includes Henry and Clayton counties. A 21-member regional roundtable, made up of county and city leaders, unanimously approved the projects list on Oct. 13, 2011. Those meeting at the Chamber today are supporters of the referendum.

“It is an information session on how to help pass the referendum,” said Chamber President Kay Pippin. “Momentum is beginning to pick up for support for the referendum. Anyone interested in [the referendum’s] passage is welcome to attend.”

“No one wants ill-informed voters, regardless of their position,” Pippin added. “Everyone who both supports and opposes the referendum, should be certain that their position is based on fact.”

The scheduled speaker for the Monday meeting is Fayette County Post 4 Commissioner Steve Brown, who opposes the T-SPLOST, because of what he calls a “horrible” project list accompanying it.

“The whole purpose of the Transportation Investment Act legislation was to relieve traffic congestion,” said Brown. “I’m 100 percent for that. Unfortunately, the list of projects does very little to relieve traffic congestion.

“There’s an over-reliance on mass transit in this current project list,” he continued. “Fifty-two percent of the regional funds, which equates to $3.2 billion, will go to mass transit, which is used by less than five percent of all commuters. I just think that’s a travesty.”

Brown added that several organizations in the Atlanta region are seeking to educate the public about the T-SPLOST, but that they are doing so without discussing pitfalls of the proposed legislation.

“We need a balanced analysis of this TIA referendum, and the citizens aren’t getting it,” he said.

Pippin said organizers of the Project 9-12 meeting should work to ensure that supporters and detractors of the legislation are heard.

“Commissioner Brown is known for his opposition to the referendum,” said Pippin. “If the organizers of this event want to assure that all the facts are presented, then, hopefully, they will also invite a spokesperson in support of the referendum.”