New TSPLOST mandate not issue for Cobb
by Jon Gillooly
October 16, 2012 12:30 AM | 2519 views | 3 3 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Todd Long
Todd Long
slideshow
Faye DiMassimo
Faye DiMassimo
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MARIETTA — Cobb County will not be hurt by a mandate in the TSPLOST legislation that requires additional local matching dollars to obtain state money for road improvements, said Faye DiMassimo, Cobb’s transportation director.

Last week, the Board of Commissioners applied for $3.6 million in Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant Program dollars for Fiscal Year 2013 for road resurfacing projects.

Before the TSPLOST failed, Cobb was required to meet those state funds with a 10 percent match. The legislation that created the TSPLOST, however, requires the regions that turned down the transportation referendum to pay a 30 percent match.

Yet DiMassimo said the county was able to meet the match by counting expenses used in the county’s 2011 SPLOST referendum.

“Cobb puts tons into transportation already, so it’s not really much of an issue for them,” said Todd Long, deputy commissioner with the Georgia Department of Transportation. “They’re basically going to leverage their money for more of our LMIG money. They’ve got to show that plus 30 percent more they’re spending on transportation.”

DiMassimo said that before the legislation that authorized the TSPLOST vote, the required 10 percent match for those state dollars was also obtained by counting a local SPLOST or taken from the county’s general fund.

Long said he hasn’t been hearing many complaints about the increased match requirements as he works around the state.

While the TSPLOST failed in the 10-county metro Atlanta region, it passed in the Central Savannah, Heart of Georgia and River Valley regions. Those three regions will implement a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation improvements. And as a result of passing the TSPLOST, they will get to keep their match requirement for Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant Program dollars at 10 percent.

“The 46 counties that were part of the three regions that passed it are probably the loudest I’m hearing from,” Long said. “They want the 10 and 30 to stay in place. They went to bat, in their mind, to pass the sales tax. There ought to be some advantage for passing the sales tax, so they’re probably the loudest.”

Southeast Commissioner Bob Ott views the increased match amount as a penalty for those who voted down the TSPLOST regardless of the “creative financing” Cobb is using to account for its 30 percent.

“It’s wrong anytime that you penalize the voters for exercising their rights to say yes or no,” Ott said.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said he hopes something can be done about the law in the coming legislative session.

“I would hope that a reasonable change to the law can be approved this session,” Ehrhart said. “I do not see 70 percent of the state who did not pass TSPLOST accepting a 30 percent penalty if their elected delegations can change the law. They are certainly in the majority.”

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) said lawmakers are looking at revisions.

“While current law does require a 30 percent match for some road improvement projects, I and others are exploring ways to address this,” Hill said. “As newly appointed chairman of a transportation subcommittee, I intend to begin hearings soon to consider Plan B–type options and additional funding opportunities.”

The $3.6 million state grant Cobb has applied for is up about $400,000 from what it received last year, DiMassimo said.

Last Tuesday, commissioners approved a road resurfacing plan that will cost $7.3 million for the fiscal year, which will be paid for both with the state grant and local SPLOST dollars.
Comments
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JR in Mableton
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October 16, 2012
Thanks to our own SPLOST the 30% "match" is not an issue. It is not a cash deposit.

As far as Macland Road goes, I guess you would rather pay higher property taxes than to have Paulding County residents work and shop in Cobb. I drive that project regularly and think it is great!
TCW(TheCobbWay)
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October 16, 2012
Yet during the heated TSPLOST debate in Cobb County the TSPLOST advocates used the "30% rule" as a major arguing point for passage of the TSPLOST.

This was especially true of DiMassimo and Tim Lee.

Just an example of what they were willing to say and do to get the tax increase passed for the benefit of their transportation and developer cronies.
Macland Rd homeowner
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October 16, 2012
It is very hard to support the any transportation work based on what they are doing on Macland Road.

1. Millions of tax dollars was spent on the last 2 miles of Macland Road until it reaches Paulding County. (go check it out they are about to finish it up.

2. Now there is a meeting of homeowners to talk about buying up land to make the road a 4 lane road (at Trinity Church on the Oct 17th)

In the end, they will simply tear up millions of dollars of road work in order to start the 4 lane in a couple of years. Please explain, how any of this makes sense?

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