If some of the Glynn County projects in the Transportation Investment Act referendum seem familiar, there's a good reason.
Voters in a 10-county coastal region will be asked to approve a 1 percent sales tax for the next 10 years to fund those projects and 62 projects in the other nine counties.
"Most of them have been in the planning stages, engineering stages for many, many years," Sublett said of the 13 Glynn County projects.
"We got input from literally hundreds of people. We didn't pull these things out of a magic hat like a rabbit."
Members from surrounding counties were also asked for their input because of the connectivity goal the state DOT has for the projects. DOT officials didn't want road widening projects to end at county lines if the goal is to create jobs and make roads safer.
If predictions by state officials are accurate, the Transportation Investment Act referendum may be in trouble in the 10-county coastal region that includes Brunswick.
State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, says he will vote for the tax, but that doesn't mean his support will convince enough voters to approve the referendum.
"I don't have a warm, fuzzy feeling," he said of the measure also known as the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST. "It's a matter of people being fed up. I think it's going to be a missed opportunity."
State Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, says he will vote against the referendum and believes he is not alone. "I don't think it will pass in the region," he said. "It's a regressive tax."
State Sen. William Ligon, R-Waverly, says he is opposed to the tax and believes the vote is in trouble in the coastal region of Glynn, McIntosh, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Bulloch, Bryan, Liberty, Long and Screven.
The vote to determine the fate of the Transportation Investment Act referendum in a special election is perhaps one of the more difficult ones to predict in recent memory.
Members of the two main political parties have expressed support and opposition to the tax, and socioeconomics isn't an accurate gauge of likely voting patterns, either, analysts say.
"I think there will be some regions that pass this and some that don't," said Doug Callaway, executive director of the Georgia Transportation Alliance, an organization that supports the 1 percent sales tax commonly referred to as T-SPLOST for Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Callaway has been canvassing the state to generate support for the tax that will fund long lists of projects in the transportation regions in which voters approve it. He has spoken at the invitation of many chambers of commerce across the state.
Callaway said he doesn't know of any chamber of commerce in the state that is opposed to the tax, though some in the northern part of the state have taken no position on it.
To its supporters, a 1 percent sales tax for transportation that will go before voters July 31 is a potential economic powerhouse for creating construction jobs that will pump more money into the economy and create other jobs.
Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, aligns with the supporters. "This is one of the most important things in several decades," Woodside said this week at a breakfast meeting to promote the tax.
The Transportation Investment Act - which originally came out of the Legislature as a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sale Tax and is still commonly referred to as T-SPLOST - is a statewide strategy for building, primarily, roads and bridges, but which voters will decide on by regions. A region that rejects the tax won't collect it - or get the projects it would have funded - while a region that approves it will pay the price and get the projects.
In the coastal region of Glynn County and nine others - McIntosh, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Bulloch, Bryan, Liberty, Long and Screven - an estimated $1.6 billion is expected to be collected during the 10-year life of the tax.
Supporters of the tax estimate it will generate $3.15 million annually for Glynn County and $650,000 for Brunswick during those 10 years. Passage would increase the sales tax in Glynn County to 7 percent from 6 percent.
By MEGHAN PITTMAN
Georgia House Bill 211 authorized the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, which established the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST, that is designed to fund local transportation projects across the state.
The July 31 ballot will ask all Georgia voters to approve or shoot down a 1 percent sales tax that will generate millions of dollars in revenue for projects in 12 Georgia regions.
If the majority of voters in each region approve the 10-year TSPLOST, the region will institute the tax throughout the region.
Passage would increase the sales tax in Glynn County to 7 percent from 6 percent.
Glynn County will contribute more in sales tax revenue to other counties than it receives for its own transportation projects if voters in the 10-county region that includes Brunswick and the Golden Isles approve the state's Transportation Investment Act referendum July 31.
Donor counties will still benefit from projects throughout the region, he said at a breakfast meeting of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Isles Association of Realtors at Epworth by the Sea.
"You visit places in the region," he said. "You have to think beyond your county," Long said of the proposed 1 percent sales tax that is often referred to by its original name, the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Georgia's state roads are ranked No. 1 in the nation, but that's not the case for county and dirt roads, he said. And the state is not alone when it comes to a road system in jeopardy. Keeping up with state transportation needs and highway maintenance also is a challenge as costs go up and revenue goes down.
"Every state is facing the same issue," Long said. "You don't want to be on the bottom of the barrel for transportation funding."
The president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce says his organization typically opposes new taxes, but that's not the case with the Transportation Investment Act that will go before voters statewide July 31.
He urged the audience to support the 1 percent sales tax for transportation programs as crucial to the state's economy. Clark said approval of the tax is important because the state ranks 49th in money spent on roads.
"We're out there. We're supporting it," he said. "Quite frankly, there is no Plan B. This is what we have to do for economic development."
Glynn County is grouped into a region with nine other coastal counties - McIntosh, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Bulloch, Bryan, Liberty, Long and Screven - for voting and projects. A simple majority in all 10 coastal counties is needed to pass the tax for the entire region.
No county can opt out of paying the tax, if it is approved in its region, even if its residents vote against it.
A state legislator who represents southeast Georgia is encouraging voters to carefully review the Transportation Investment Act, a 1 percent sales tax that will be voted on this summer, because he says it may not be constitutional.
If passed, the Transportation Investment Act, voters will decide statewide by regions July 31 will impose a 10-year sales tax to fund 75 infrastructure projects in the 10-county region stretching from Camden to Screven County. Thirteen of the projects are in Glynn County.
Most of the revenue, 75 percent, would fund already designated projects. The remaining 25 percent would be given to local governments to spend on discretionary projects.
Even if Glynn County voters reject the tax, consumers will have to pay it if a majority of voters in other counties in the region approve it.
Ligon's questions regarding the tax's constitutionality surround the fact that the bill that would create it was not adopted by the Legislature and sent to voters as an amendment to the state constitution, he said.
Directors of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce voted Tuesday to back a sales tax they say will help the community grow.
The transportation sales tax would be collected for 10 years to fund transportation projects in 10 regions across the state. Glynn County is in a region stretching from Camden County on the south to Chatham County on the north. Passage of the tax would increase the sales tax in Glynn County to 7 percent.
"We don't need to think of this as a penny sales tax," Mason Waters, chamber vice president of government affairs, said Tuesday.
"It's an economic development tool. That will be our biggest bargain chip to attract businesses and create jobs."
Waters noted that other chambers of commerce in the state and in the 12-county coastal region, of which Glynn County is a part, have already moved to support the tax.
Former Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons, urged local business and community leaders Thursday to support a new tax that would bring $1.5 billion in revenue to Coastal Georgia.
The sales tax in Glynn County is currently 7 percent.
Acknowledging that "it's a tough economic environment to pass a 1 cent tax," Keen said the economic development generated by a regional T-SPLOST is worth the extra penny on the dollar.
Glynn County is one of 10 counties in the coastal T-SPLOST region.
The county stands to receive enough proceeds to fund 13 local transportation projects totaling $113 million, if T-SPLOST passes. That would include the widening of Ga. 99 and new aviation terminals at the Brunswick Golden Isles and McKinnon St. Simons Island airports.