Local News

9/23/2011

Business leaders hear pitch for Ga. transportation tax

By LOUIE BROGDON

The Brunswick News

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.

In a meeting hosted by the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce at the Brunswick Country Club, Keen, along with Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark, sang the praises of a regional 1 percent transportation sales tax Georgians will vote on during the primary elections in 2012.

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.

State Chamber President Clark said a new tax is a tough sell, especially to business owners, but the projects would bring people to work and give the state a competitive edge when attracting new business.

"We're not a pro-tax organization," Clark said. "In 10 years this is only the second time we have supported a fee increase. But this is going to put people to work."

The tax will be voted on regionally throughout the state.