If you’ve been too busy trying to find a job to pay attention, you should read about this latest government assault, a redistribution scheme and so much more.
Just to be clear, of the existing SPLOSTS we pay in Cobb, one is for school infrastructure, paying for new buildings and renovations — but more recently branching out to encompass controversial things like field turf, textbooks (that used to be paid from the general fund) and various other pork projects, depending on which school is politically favored at the time. We also pay a SPLOST for county infrastructure, things like intersection improvements (good) and unwanted sidewalks (bad), many of which are currently impassable with overgrown weeds because the county can’t afford to maintain them and obviously believes cutting down perfectly good mature trees in medians takes precedence over pedestrian walkways.
There are a few drawbacks inherent in SPLOSTs, but you’ll never hear big-spending government bureaucrats admit it.
So now comes the regional transportation SPLOST or TSPLOST, which comes at the height of our national economic chaos and personal hardship for many of our neighbors.
It’s easier to call it the Georgia Porkulus, modeled after last year’s failed federal stimulus.
We’re supposed to vote on it sometime next year, but the politicians and their crews are maneuvering to manipulate the date based on projected dumb-voter turnout, which is a whole other column.
The idea is to promise something for everyone under the guise of alleviating transportation woes, but there’s much more to it. Some counties, like Cobb and Fayette, will clearly become “donor counties,” meaning we’ll pay in a good deal more than we’ll ever see returned in benefits. If one county votes the TSPLOST down but it’s approved overall among the ten, we’ll still be stuck paying on everything purchased for the next decade.
Administering the tax, sort of, is a fancy contingent of county and city politicians calling themselves a “roundtable,” though they’re quite the opposite of knights in shining armor, working hard to keep their counties (and special interests?) on the working list of pork projects. Commission Chair Tim Lee and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews are Cobb’s reps, which is sort of like putting the foxes in charge.
Other important business people like the Georgia Chamber of Commerce (represented as the Georgia Transportation Alliance), the local Cumberland CID (and other CIDs around the region), municipal associations and various private companies who stand to benefit from more taxpayer largesse in the form of
transportation pork, are about to inundate us with reasons we should vote to tax ourselves more. They likely have massive PR budgets, focus-grouping their message to sound something like, “Stimulate the economy, invest in ourselves, vote yes or unimaginable terror awaits on the roads.”
Remember the term lipstick on a pig. It seems to fit the Georgia Porkulus.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) should be applauded for coming out against the main enticement for Cobb, an $857 million light rail train, which I will forthwith call the Ghost Train because who the heck is going to ride it?
As Setzler rightly points out, the proposed Ghost Train would connect the Cumberland CID, at the edge of the county, to the mid town Atlanta MARTA Arts Center Station at a cost of $4,000 per Cobb household, with likely less than five percent of us using it. Is it possible our knights, Lee and Matthews, forgot to explain to the rest of the round table that Cumberland is not an easy destination if you live off Mars Hill Road in the northwest or Little Willeo or Shallowford on the east side of the river? Wending through traffic all the way to Akers Mill and Cobb Parkway sounds appalling, not appealing, and that doesn’t even include parking, waiting on a train and taking it probably only part way to some final destination. I’m exhausted simply writing about it.
Most of us would rather cut off our right arm.
And the knights of the roundtable’s budget, Setzler reminds us, doesn’t even include money to run the Ghost Train in the future, only build it.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Benita Dodd adds that there are no guarantees the project can be completed within ten years or even by 2026, a huge problem if voters get smart and banish the tax.
Ghost Train. Imagine it, over the appalling $100 million per mile budget and/or incomplete, an obscene symbol of the epidemic of bad government in this era. I’m reminded of Boston’s Big Dig.
We have until October to voice our objections.
Next week: what local politicians have said about the TSPLOST. You’ll want to read this.