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Controversial TSPLOST vote looms

By Sherri Ellington All three local governments are gearing up for next year’s voter referendum on the special district transportation sales and use tax, commonly known as T-SPLOST. Barnesville city council has agreed on five road improvement projects, and the Lamar County commission approved five. Milner proposed a single project, the extension of Fallings Street to Liberty Hill Road, to reduce congestion and improve safety. The lists will go to the Three Rivers Regional Commission transportation roundtable which includes representatives of all 10 counties. Local governments are expected to submit before the March 30 deadline, allowing time for figuring costs. Project lists are tied to House Bill 277, the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, which calls for the T-SPLOST vote in 2012. If approved by voters the 1% sales tax would be in effect for 10 years for completion of all projects. Local representatives on the TRRC transportation roundtable are commission chairman Jay Matthews, who appointed commissioner Nancy Thrash alternate in all areas except for voting, and Barnesville Mayor Peter Banks. ’All of Barnesville’s projects are regionally significant but now they’re all in the planning stages,’ said Banks. ‘If the T-SPLOST referendum passes next year, they’ll be funded.’ Thrash, Robert Hyde of Three Rivers and Missy Kendrick of the Industrial Development Authority, chair of the local transportation committee, spoke about the regional transportation projects. ’It’s something we really don’t have a choice about,’ said Kendrick. ‘We have to submit our projects for inclusion in the regional transportation roundtable. If we don’t, it will cost us.’ Projects can be regional or local as long as they meet requirements in the bill. Once all 10 counties submit projects, the roundtable must decide by October which ones are most important and what the region can afford based on sales tax projections.

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