Passage of Amendment 3 has been requested by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Presently, the department must have all of a project's cost in the bank before construction begins. The amendment would allow the department to base the future funding of transportation projects upon committed revenues streams, which the state receives, such as the gas tax and federal transportation funds.
Rogers compared the existing law to having to purchase a house with cash. If amended, the state could instead make a down payment and pay off the cost in incremental payments.
"It would allow the Department of Transportation to begin construction before money is in the bank. Georgia is one of just a handful of states that do not allow that. That's why road building is so slow," he said.
If the amendment is approved, it will allow the state to move forward with multiple transportation projects at once. At the same time, it doesn't allow the state to go outside its historical revenue streams of the gas tax and federal funding, he said.
Rogers surmised the process has not been allowed up until now because of the General Assembly's reluctance to commit a future General Assembly to a multi-year contract.
But earlier this year, both the state Senate and House approved Senate Resolution 821 in a near unanimous bipartisan vote, with all 19 members of Cobb's Legislative Delegation voting in favor to place the amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The resolution reads: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multiyear construction agreements without requiring appropriations in the current fiscal year for the total amount of payments that would be due under the entire agreement so as to reduce long-term construction costs paid by the state?"
Former Cobb Commissioner Butch Thompson, owner of a Kennesaw-based site preparation contracting firm, intends to vote for the amendment.
"I would be in favor of it from the standpoint of keeping projects going. It's a method of speeding up the work," Thompson said.
There is the risk of committing funds that haven't yet been collected, but the trade off of creating jobs and alleviating traffic problems is worth it, Thompson said.
There is also the issue of bidding out a project at today's prices and then waiting until all the funds are appropriated to start the project, which runs the risk of inflation. Beginning the project immediately is another plus in bypassing that risk, he said.