Transportation Tax Referendums

February 9, 2012

In July 2012, Georgia voters will decide in a referendum whether a 1-cent regional sales tax for transportation projects will be imposed in each of the state’s 12 service delivery regions. During 2011, regional projects lists were developed by city and county officials serving on Regional Transportation Roundtables. In each region where the tax is approved, 75 percent of the revenues will be used to pay for projects on the regional list (85 percent of TIA revenues will go to regional projects in the Metro Atlanta region). The remaining 25 percent (15 percent in the ARC region) of revenues from the sales tax will be directly distributed to cities and counties and can be used for a wide variety of transportation costs. With limited time remaining before the July referendum, city officials should understand how local discretionary funds may be used, develop priorities for using the revenues and work in partnership with local Chambers of Commerce and other groups to inform the public about which projects can be funded if the tax is approved. Information for this edition of Ask GMA was obtained from various sources including the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Georgia Transportation Alliance and the Atlanta Regional Commission.

What benefits will my region receive if the referendum is approved?
A regional project list has been selected and approved by the roundtable in each region. These projects for your specific region can be viewed by accessing the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Regional Roundtable website. In regions where the tax is approved, 75 percent of revenues will be used for these regional projects (85 percent in the ARC region).

Additionally, if the tax passes in a region, the remaining 25 percent (15 percent in ARC) can be used for local transportation projects. Each city and county in the region will receive an amount determined by a formula using road miles and population.

What types of transportation projects can be funded by the TIA revenues?
The TIA gives cities broad flexibility in deciding what types of transportation projects are authorized. Examples of allowable projects include street repaving, sidewalks, bike paths, bus or transit purchases and operation, street cars, adding new capacity roads and more. More information regarding the types of projects that are allowable through the TIA can be found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A) § 48-8-242 ¶ 2.

How much will my city receive if the TIA referendum passes?
The state economist has generated 2013 estimates of what each city is expected to get in the first year of tax collections in each region that passes the TIA tax. While out-year estimates are not complete, it is fair to assume that each year’s anticipated allocations will be comparable to those of the first year. To view the estimates for your city, please access the Georgia Department of Transportation website. Please note that these estimates are only for 2013 while the tax would continue through 2022.

How should my city use this new source of revenue if available?
Should the tax pass in your region, city officials should have a well-articulated plan for spending revenues from the tax on transportation projects in the city. The saying “all politics is local” can be adapted in the case of this tax to “all roads are local.” Beginning a public process to assist city officials in choosing priorities for investing in local transportation projects will have the effect of ensuring the public that any spending as a result of the passage of the TIA tax will be implemented in a fashion that has included public participation.

What should my city do after our local plan is developed?
After the plan development process is complete, it is time to make sure that your city’s residents know how the city would invest the local TIA allocation if the tax passes in your region. So that your citizens are informed, make sure to provide them with information about the plan that your city has for making transportation investments over the ten-year time period of the TIA tax.

Where can I go to obtain more information regarding the TIA?
The Georgia Municipal Association’s website has numerous articles and resources related to the TIA. Other resources include the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Legislation website, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Funding Resource Center website and the Regional Commission that serves your region. The staff of GMA is always available to answer any questions that you might have regarding the TIA. For questions regarding the TIA, please contact Becky Taylor at btaylor@gmanet.com or 678-686-6276 or Tom Gehl at tgehl@gmanet.com or 678-686-6247.