Part of the benefit, Couvillon said, is that Gainesville receives about 30% of its sales tax revenue from people who live outside the county. Over the five years of TSPLOST, it could yield hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation projects.
“If we do a property tax increase, the only people who pay that part are the landlords,” he said. “If you do a consumption tax like the TSPLOST, then everyone pays their fair share, and when you really explore Gainesville-Hall County, we are a beneficiary where we would probably get a 30% rebate, … because that 30% of our sales tax is paid by our neighboring counties.
But a vote should be called by the county with clearly defined plans on the ballot.
Chairman Richard Higgins said he met with officials from the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and Great Hall in the middle of last year about TSPLOST. He would support the tax and said he expected a vote in March 2023. He did not want to hold the referendum during a major election year.
House Speaker Kit Dunlap said they would explore the need for a TSPLOST, projects and community contributions in the coming months.
State offices are up for election in the fall, including the race for a top-level governor and two county commissioner seats. Commissioner Shelly Echols is stepping down from her District 3 seat to run for the state Senate, and District 1 Commissioner Kathy Cooper will be re-elected in November.
“Timing is everything,” Higgins said. “We need all the transport dollars we can get, but you want to make good decisions about when to have (a vote).”
County officials said they are still a long way from determining what the projects might look like.
“If and when we get to this point, the county will work closely with the cities to ensure we come up with a slate that improves the overall transportation network for the entire region,” said Srikanth Yamala, director of interim county planning.
To push for policies like TSPLOST, Couvillon said he’s committed to quarterly meetings with the county, which would include Higgins, another city council member, a county commissioner, the city manager of Gainesville and l county administrator. Former mayors did not, he said. “This is where we go to express our opinion on matters like this,” he said.
With or without a TSPLOST vote, a boon for traffic problems could be federal money from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Acting Director of Financial Services Zach Propes said the county still doesn’t know how much money it will receive from legislation passed by Congress in November, but more details could emerge this spring.
With the inland port coming to Gainesville soon and massive growth throughout the county, especially in the South Hall, Couvillon said a bypass to route truck traffic around Gainesville could be one of the best uses. potential funds from TSPLOST.
“I would like to see how we could work together to find routes to remove traffic from the town of Gainesville,” Couvillon said. “Can we find something that would help with the truck traffic going all the way down (State Route) 365, down Jesse Jewell (Parkway) on Green Street and going north on Hwy 60 to Murrayville? Is there an alternative path we can explore and help fund? »