TSPLOST Referendum More Important than Trump or Hillary on Ballot for Atlantans

For most of us, this election cycle has been far less fun and far more concerning than usual.

Despite a bevy of solid conservatives running for the GOP nomination, only one was willing to speak to frustration many feel about illegal immigration, offshoring, and a political system that doesn’t care about them. Unfortunately, that candidate was the least qualified of the lot.

Donald Trump of course won the nomination. While he has some redeeming policies such his tax plan (which includes cutting the business rate to 15 percent, reducing individual rates to three brackets of 12, 25, and 33 percent, and adding an above-the-line deduction for childcare costs), he lacks the political discipline and personal integrity to deserve the position of standard bearer for the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, Hillary colluded with the DNC to win the Democratic Nomination. While she is more polished, professional, and experienced, she was also a liberal NY senator and a failed Secretary of State. She has been exposed for corruption including possible pay-to-play with the FBI and had her surrogates publicly lye about the cause of a terrorist attack. Her policy positions are predictably liberal have shifted to match the popular opinion of her party over time.

All this is enough to make you want to not bother going to the polls, and who could blame you. Fortunately for Atlantans, there is something on the ballot that will make a bigger impact in our everyday lives than the top of the ticket. It’s a transportation referendum (T-SPLOST). It is second to last on the ballot and it could make an impact on the one criticism that is universally levied on Atlanta, horrendous traffic and trouble moving around the city.

If passed, the T-SPLOST referendum will increase city sales tax by 0.4% or $0.04 per $10.00 purchase. If you were to spend $20,000 in the city throughout the year, you’d would pay only an additional $80 in taxes, yet it is expected to raise $300 million in the five year period for which it would be in effect. Even as small as it is, I would oppose such a tax hike. For several reasons, this is an important exception.

First, the cause is worthy. This isn’t some overly optimistic government welfare program or a bridge to nowhere. Rather, it directly addresses the most obvious problem in the city. Here’s how it’ll allocate the projected $300 million in revenue:

  • $75 million for 15 complete streets projects
  • $69 million for pedestrian improvements in sidewalks
  • $66 million for the Atlanta BeltLine, which will allow the BeltLine to purchase all the remaining right of way to close the 22-mile loop
  • $40 million for traffic signal optimization
  • $3 million for Phase 2 of the Atlanta Bike Share program

Street projects include adding turn lanes (e.g., at Moores Mill and West Wesley), which are sorely needed. The traffic signal optimization should help those intersections where subsequent lights don’t coordinate properly leading to blocked intersections and disastrous traffic. BeltLine completion and bike lanes help get cyclists out of drivers way and further improve our road ways.

One of the most troubling things about government is they waste money on items you don’t care about while neglecting the most important priorities. In this case, they’ve listed not just general ideas, but specific project on specific roads in our neighborhoods. Here’s the full list with specifics down the intersection.

Atlanta, like most governmental bodies, is no stranger to wasting money. They built a street car that drives on the already congested roads and goes to nowhere of interest, a “street car to nowhere” if you will. Fortunately, the T-SPLOST referendum is exactly how responsible government should ask for revenue. The tax amount and time period are clear and the planned use for the revenue is spelled out with specifics. This will help alleviate the city’s biggest problem and I encourage you to vote yes on T-SPLOST.

As a careful watch out, be sure not to confuse this with the MARTA referendum which will also be on the ballot. It is another referendum that would nominally increase sales tax for a specific purpose, but it’s purpose is not nearly as worthy. Reading “MARTA expansion” may get you excited about new lines closer to Alpharetta, but that’s not the case. They explain the disappointing use of funds as:

  • Upgrades to the bus network
  • Expansion of the Atlanta Streetcar system or other transit to the Beltline
  • New MARTA stations

Those new MARTA stations are new rail stops along currently existing rail lines. The two northern lines are not slotted to be expanded Northward in this referendum, so I will not be supporting the MARTA referendum.

While this election may be disappointing, and some conservatives may be hesitant to head to the polls to support Trump, supporting T-SPLOST and down ballot Republicans is good reason to get out on November 8th.

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