Be 'Skeptical' of TSPLOST, Former Councilman Says
At a transportation town hall meeting Monday, Tom Bevirt said he wanted to present “the other side of the story” when it comes to the proposed penny tax.
After a presentation and question-and-answer session on the July 31 TSPLOST vote by area politicians and transportation officials, former Powder Springs Councilman Tom Bevirt told residents Monday that they need to be “skeptical” of the penny tax.
Those pushing it have at least $6 million to “inform you, and that’s kind of a polite word,” he said.
“So you’ve got to be a little bit more skeptical of this,” Bevirt said.
Monday’s meeting at the Ron Anderson Recreation Center was hosted by David Wilkerson, whose South Cobb District 33 will be switched over to Distrct 38 in the upcoming election but will mostly keep the same boundaries. Two dozen or so were in attendance.
Wilkerson said the meeting was a follow-up to his last one at the center, when many had questions about the TSPLOST. Also there to explain the issue Monday was Faye DiMassimo, director of the Cobb Department of Transportation; Daniel McDuff, the department’s deputy director; Michael Paris with the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network; and Cobb state Sen. Doug Stoner.
Bevirt told the crowd he wanted to present “the other side of the story” from what they had heard from the officials, noting that he will continue to tackle TSPLOST issues on his Patch Local Voices column.
Two of his main arguments were that the use of Maglev trains as a transportation option are being ignored, and that the federal-funding portion of TSPLOST probably won’t happen. The Marietta Daily Journal reports that the federal portion is 12 percent.
A video of Bevirt discussing these issues is attached.
“(I am) trying to be evenhanded with this,” he said, “but when I see five people up here selling the same thing, I feel that I’ve got to be able to come up and give you the other side of the story.”
Near the beginning of the meeting, Paris touched on the discussion that the tax will continue on forever—something he said isn’t true.
“And when we reach that (10-year point), it’s over. … It cannot be carried forward without another referendum and another vote of the public,” he said.
Some residents said they felt that when it comes to transportation issues like TSPLOST, the Powder Springs area is forgotten.
“That’s a good start,” one woman said of the Cobb TSPLOST projects, “but how do we get closer or in the heart of Powder Springs, where the Hillgrove kids and the McEachern kids (can) get access to college and get access to trade schools?”
Another woman said she lives near downtown Powder Springs and that it takes a long walk to get to a Cobb Community Transit bus stop.
“There never has been a bus in this area, so how do we bring that to your attention?” she asked.
DiMassimo said the county will soon begin to do its five-year update of its transportation plan, and that those with concerns should get involved.
“What you need to do when we start that process … is you need to be actively involved,” she said. “Talk to us about those things. Let us analyze it as a whole.”
Continuing on the topic of bus service, Stoner noted how if the TSPLOST is voted down, GRTA public transportation service could be canceled. The federal money allocated to it is about to run out, and Georgia will also cease its input, he said.
“The state had made it clear, though I disagree: They will not put money toward the express bus service, and there is a chance the express bus service will be discontinued,” he said.
But with the passage of the TSPLOST, he added, GRTA will continue and could even possibly expand.
If the 1 percent sales tax increase is approved in July by the 10 metro Atlanta counties involved, it is expected to bring in about $7.22 billion over 10 years. Of that, $6.14 billion will go to 157 regional projects, while the rest (15 percent) will be given to local governments based on population and road mileage.
Powder Springs and unincorporated Cobb are expected to receive about $3 million and $13.3 million, respectively, of the $17 million raised annually for the county, and will be able to use the money at their discretion for transportation projects.