WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A group called 'Citizens Against T-SPLOST', or 'CATS' for short, is fighting to get local residents to oppose the statewide transportation tax to be voted on July 31st.
The T-SPLOST, which will be voted on regionally, would raise taxes by one percent, from 7% to 8%.
"We are against this T-SPLOST because it is a brand new tax," says Becky Wood, a member of the group. "It's a tax, and it's an increase that we don't think we need right now."
Former chairman of the Houston County Commission and current chairman of CATS, Ned Sanders, fears that if the T-SPLOST passes, local taxes could potentially be used to pay for out of state contractors to complete the long list of proposed projects.
"All these millions and millions of dollars being dumped on them (state and Georgia Department of Transportation) in a short period of time, and they have to start the implementation on them right away," says Sanders. "They're going to have to hire outside help--engineering firms to design them, for example. And I doubt all those firms would be here in Georgia."
Sanders feels that passage of the T-SPLOST would take control of the logistics of road projects out of the hands of local officials and put it in the hands of state officials and the GDOT.
Proponents of the T-SPLOST feel some of the roads around the region are in desperate need of repair. Sanders says those roads won't be left out to dry if the T-SPLOST doesn't pass.
"There's still the general fund, which is funded by our income taxes--the Georgia income taxes," says Sanders. "A large portion of which goes to Georgia DOT every year. There's still the motor fuel tax. That'd still be there. So it doesn't mean that these roads won't be worked on. It just means it won't be as diverse an application as it would be if you had all this additional money."
If it passes on July 31st, the T-SPLOST would be in effect for 10 years, and the group worries that locally controlled SPLOSTS, like the 2006 SPLOST passed in Houston County, will be in great danger of passage after the 10 years is up because residents will be ready to decrease taxes.
If you're interested in learning more about the group, it will meet again next Thursday, June 21st from 2-4 in the public meeting room of the Flint Energies Building on Highway 96 next to Houston County High School.