‘There he goes again,’ Brown wrong again on TSPLOST merits

In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again,” Steve, with your exaggerations and mischaracterizations of the regional transportation referendum.

The July 31 regional transportation referendum gives Fayette County voters the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to improve their transportation infrastructure with their own funding resources.

As Steve noted in his “Ga. is mimicking California” letter to the editor, California is talking about building a “massive commuter rail plan” (actually high-speed rail) that will need significant federal support, with strings attached, you can be assured.

That’s a huge difference from the July 31 regional transportation referendum here in Georgia.

I don’t want to get into another debate on the regional project list except to say again that Fayette taxpayers are NOT investing in the Atlanta BeltLine, the Clifton Corridor or any other transit system.

The equivalent of every tax dollar raised in Fayette will be invested only for road projects in and immediately around Fayette County.

But Fayette citizens will clearly benefit from the investments made in other metro Atlanta counties when they travel throughout the region.

Commissioner Brown knows that but continues to imply that Fayette citizens are somehow paying for transit services.

However, Commissioner Brown does bring up one valid point. He said Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority may build the high-speed rail without any further input from the voters. Sacramento and Washington, not the voters, will be deciding how much California taxpayers will be spending on high-speed rail.

Back here in Georgia, Governor Deal said, when referring to the regional transportation referendum, “You may not get the General Assembly to be able to delegate that authority back down to local levels of government to participate in the project selection process again if this proves to be unsuccessful.”

The chairman of the Georgia House Transportation Committee is from Ocilla, and the Senate chairman is from Chickamauga. Considering this, it’s just common sense to anyone in Fayette County that you don’t want the Georgia General Assembly involved in project selection for Fayette County.

In fact, Fayette County doesn’t even have one legislator on either the House or Senate Transportation Committees. Commissioner Brown knows that too.

The July 31 regional transportation referendum has listed 157 regional projects that are the only regional projects that can be built with the TSPLOST funds. It’s in the law!

An additional $25 million will go to unincorporated Fayette, $10 million to Peachtree City, $4 million to Fayetteville and $3 million to Tyrone which must be invested in local transportation projects. It’s in the law!

And there will be a Citizens Review Panel that will audit every project to make certain the projects stay within their financial and time limitations. It’s also in the law! And Commissioner Brown knows all that too.

You’ve got to admire Commissioner Brown’s pit bull attitude. But I’m afraid he buried his common sense somewhere in the backyard and can’t remember where he left it.

Terry Lawler

Executive Director

Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta

Atlanta, Ga.

moelarrycurly
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Hey, Terry Lawler-Coweta C of C ain't buyin' TSPLOST either

How much is the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce paying you, Terry? Man, if part of my dues to Fayette C of C (no, I'm not a member) were paid forward to Terry, I'd start questioning the leadership of the Fayette C of C right about now.

Read below 1 article and 1 editorial from today's Newnan Times-Herald.

http://www.times-herald.com/Local/20120610TSPLOSTOppositionSIDEBAR-MOS

http://www.times-herald.com/opinion/20120610Editorial-Sun-MOS

Spyglass
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If we truly need the money

Just raise the gas tax and let the folks passing through our fair state contribute also. That is my take.

Steve Brown
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Get to know the Transportation Investment Act

Ladies and gentlemen, it's not what you are getting out of the TIA; rather, it's what you are GETTING INTO.

Through measures like the TIA we are getting sucked into a regional mass transit system. This is what the TIA supporters are saying. Unfortunately, most people do not have access to the quotes.

I invite you all to come to the TIA debate on June 5 (6:30 pm) at Harvest Christian Community Church in Fayetteville (in the shopping center behind the Mexican restaurant.

I my last debate, Mike Alexander,
modeler/planner with the Atlanta Regional
Commission, gives an answer to a question from the
audience on what will be the difference in his
commute from now and after the TIA's $8 billion is
spent.

Mr. Alexander's answer: "The average commute time
really doesn't change too much."

Ouch, $8 billion and the commute doesn't change.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3mXVTbX3jE&list=UUuOHDKdPNa9F3Fo4PeFLjUw...

PTC Observer
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ISDK - Oh yes, one more thing

"I have to pay $15 a week, or $60 a month ($720 a year) for the privilege to drive to a job that I had to take because there are no jobs closer to me that pay a salary I want (yes, I choose that)."

Yes, you did choose that and you can choose to live closer to your work. If you paid for the commute my guess is that would become a more viable option, wouldn't it?

And all those other problems you see with private ownership of roads, well I suppose all those individuals out there making decisions for themselves would just figure it out. That's freedom ISDK, freedom to choose, freedom to determine what is and is not in your individual interest and freedom from legalized theft. Just like living closer to work is a choice and one you don't make because you aren't paying the full cost of your commute.

Josh Bloom
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Attend the Debate!!

Attend the debate between Commissioner Brown and Bob Ross, and officers from the Metro Atlanta Chamber & MAVEN on Tuesday, June 5th 6:30PM at the Harvest Christian Community Church. 383 N. Glynn (GA Hwy 85), Fayette

It should be fun to see and ask questions of Terry Lawler, Bert Brantley, and Dave Williams in person.

istilldontknow
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Convenient Conversations -

Save some gas and sign up for the "wireside chat" - they'll call YOU at 7:30 on Monday night instead.

www.wiresidechats.com

This is a good example of using technology to meet people where they are instead of making them hop in their cars and crowd into the old Fayette Cinema to hear a "debate" that certainly seems to be promoted by those against the tax.

MYTMITE
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So, ISDK, the 'wiresidechats' are not to promote the tax?

No one is making anyone hop in their cars and crowd into the old Fayette Cinema (as you put it). At least there you can hear two sides of the issue. Will the 'wiresidechat' provide both sides? Wil you be able to ask questions and get real answers? Sure----

I think maybe it is time to change your name from ISTILLDON'TKNOW to IKNOWALLABOUTIT. I know, I know, you are just an interested citizen--well, you sure have all the info right at your fingertips, albeit a bit skewered, and if you aren't a lobbyist "they" sure are missing a great opportunity in not hiring you.

istilldontknow
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Having all of the info

Here's how easy it is:

www.google.com

Type in what you are looking for. Then click Search.

You, too, can be an "expert!"

Since the wireside chat is being "hosted" by Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial, who has publicly stated here on this site:

“Because I’m the mayoral representative to the ARC, I feel responsible to have both sides present their arguments for or against. So it’s important that we provide a venue for both sides to state their reasons why they are for or against the referendum,” said Dial.

“I’m not hosting this wireside chat to convince a voter to vote a given way. I’m hosting it to provide a venue so that people can understand the issues better. And I won’t be in there stating my opinion. I’m the host and nothing more, nothing less. And I know being the host may anger some people on both sides.”

And the ARC comments:

While the Atlanta region is not faced with mobilizing its citizens for a war effort, it does face significant communication challenges in advance of several hundred thousand residents going to the polls this summer to consider an additional sales tax to support transportation investments. Whatever decision a voter makes, it is critical that an individual's choice is based on the facts about how the tax works and what projects will be supported by this additional revenue. The project list is diverse- improving both the existing network and expanding options for the future. But with over 157 projects on the regional list alone, there's a lot of information for busy people to review.

So, I think that the wireside chat is an excellent opportunity to find the information, just as Google is to find information. The key is finding the TIME. Those who don't have the time may trust those they think are acting in their best interests, but may have other agendas at hand.

Let's start with these simple questions:
1. Does Atlanta have traffic problems?
2. If yes to #1, do you have a solution to how to resolve them?

If you don't think Atlanta has traffic problems, then go ahead and vote no and prepare for the problems to rear their head in the future.

The referendum provides a set of projects that multiple jurisdictions have spent time analyzing and voting on to bring forward (some have been talking about these for decades), and the legislature is letting us in the regions decide if we want to pay when we consume certain items (sales tax-related items) to fund these specific projects and a bit of discretionary spending in each area.

I've looked at the projects, and I see definite positives. Do I see things I'll never use - sure do, I'll probably never take the BeltLine or use the I-20 transit options. What I do see, though, is a region that is finally trying to put pen to paper and take a shot on how to improve itself in the next ten years and build a foundation for future investments in our region.

What you may see is more wasteful spending on "speculation". If we only spent money on sure things, would businesses ever grow, or would our old farmland have turned into the Fayette County we call home today?

Our country was founded on taking chances - tell me how this is any different?

We're quibbling over $4 to $6 per month. How much do you, MYTMITE, spend on average per month for items that have sales taxes charged on them in this region?

If you have another solution, I'm all ears.

tgarlock
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Randy, you insightful dog . . .

. . . you went and hit the nail right on the head.

The persuasive argument is that Fayette County will receive back in local project value nearly ALL its projected tax contributions while other counties make a net nearly 50% contribution to the black hole of mass transit. Even with that advantage, I have three problems.

First, we give up local control, and the actual results will be a wild card.

Second, why should a schoolteacher in Alpharetta or a dentist in Dekalb contribute to Fayette County road projects? Are we really that far gone that we always lust for someone else to pay our bills?

Third is your pointy of just managing what we have. I won't try to say it again since you did it so well.

Terry Garlock

istilldontknow
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Terry - managing what we have

May I ask this question?

If I paid $2,000 in taxes two years ago, $1,500 last year and $1,500 this year, how much less did the government get from me?

Now if to manage what we have, it cost $2,000 two years ago, $2,100 last year and $2,300 this year (based on my share), how much money does the government need to manage what is there?

So in three years, I gave the government $5,000 for something that now costs $6,400. How can they "manage what is there?"

You have written before about the Kedron pool and its benefits to the City - I never use that pool, so think it should be closed (I don't really, but let's pretend I do). They just spent a LOT of money to "manage what is there" - more money than what they had budgeted. Did they "improve" anything, or just get it up to today's standards, which is what the basis of managing something is? But folks think that the Kedron pool is important to property values and quality of life in Peachtree City, so we keep it. Same with the library I never use, but is a valuable resource. What's NOT a valuable resource or important to the operation of our City?

Everyone complains, but few actually take the time to analyze everything and ask why these things are truly important - down to the pens and pencils. We say "that's City staff and the Council's job". Well, folks don't seem to trust them, or the County Commission, or the State Legislature.

I've seen the argument from both sides - I don't think that what is being proposed is outrageous given the transportation infrastructure we currently have and the goals of improving our long-term economic viability and sustainability by improving transportation options.

So Terry, tell me how you would approach the issue if you had the gavel in your hand?

tgarlock
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Well, whoveveryouare, I'm not the best . . .

. . . person to ask because, as I already admitted, I have limited knowledge on transportation issues. But I'll tell you this much of my thoughts.

First, don't know that I've written about the virtues of Kedron pool, though I did write that my 9 yr old girl (now 10 thank God) nearly drowned there last June 2. Still, I would keep Kedron pool if we have the money to do so, might even be amenable to paying a little more tax to do it, key word being little, because I do agree it is part of amenities that make PTC special (a sentiment I do not extend to roads) even though my family uses it very little. Since you brought up the pool, I think the bubble expenditure was silly, but that's the first word I have publicly uttered about it. A permanent structure would be nice - if we ever have the money.

That said, my Neanderthal attitude is simple - govt's imperative is growth and permanence, it is human nature that whoever we elect will endeavor to do good things by spending more-more-more. To keep govt within our means in lean times means starving it to force the prioritization that common sense should dictate anyway, but never does.

There are ALWAYS compelling arguments why more money is needed because project X or Y is a good thing, isn't it? My bottom line is there is no end to govt's appetite for our money, so the only way to contain it is to force it to prioritize by starving it. All of which is to say I am not one to win over with the argument that a project is a good thing, even if it falls within the pool of things the govt should do. My final qualifying question is "Do we have the money?" and if not, my hurdle to do it anyway is a VERY high one.

I know it sounds small-minded, so go ahead and swat the softball, I can take it.

As for the TSPLOST, I don't think it is evil and I've already listed my personal reasons to vote no. I come down on the net negative side even though I do see some positive things.

I do think TSPOST is being way oversold and I doubt the "relief" being touted as benefits. You can only improve commute times so much when people live 30+ miles from the office.

We already have City, County, State and Federal govts, with effectiveness rapidly diminishing with relative distance from our personal control. From taxes we pay at the pump and elsewhere we already have County and GDOT paid to deliver road solutions. So since they can't or don't, now we need another level to fund with new taxes? There could be some inter-county cooperation advantages to the TSPLOST on issues like the 74/85 interchange, but am I willing to raise taxes and forfeit Fayette control to get it? My answer is no.

Do I believe the TSPOLST promises on project schedule, budget projections, and limitation to 10 year life? My answer is no.

My bottom line is TSPLOST benefits are way oversold, and the cost in money and loss of local control too high a price to pay. Without even touching mass transit issues, I will vote no.

But I am a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal with limited knowledge of transportation issues, so my views shouldn't count for much among TSPLOST enthusiasts.

Terry Garlock

PTC Observer
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But Mr. Garlock - What about

What about Mr. Drake, what will he do if he can't sip from the well of unlimited taxpayer money? What about the concrete?! Oh the humanity of it!

You don't mean to suggest that he actually gets a real job do you?

AtHomeGym
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PTCO & Drake

I know Terry won't mind me chiming in for a tic--here's betting Mr. Drake has never wheeled a wheelbarrow full of concrete over a 2x6 to pour a floor or foundation. I have. While his posts are sometimes informative and never aggressively negative, not sure he grasps the overall attitude of the general public about central govt control/interference with local issues. And yes, it is apparent that he will not bite the hand that feeds him--perhaps just a human trait shared by many.

PTC Observer
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AHG - Keep

chiming, you're dead on pal.

I think these folks are in for a real surprise in this year's elections.

Time will tell.

MYTMITE
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Mr. Garlock, I wish we could clone you. We need a few hundred

more like you in our community. I always appreciate reading your articles and your replies. Thank you.
Now, if you will excuse me I have to go spend my $4-$6 in taxes.

AtHomeGym
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MYTMITE & Cloning

Stop! Turn your computer off! Your brain has been taken over by an alien! Clone Terry Garlock---my God woman, do you know what you are saying? This is a man who has been known to wander around babbling about his "Jesus Nut being loose!" It's hard enough to handle the original version--a clone would be impossible! Maybe you need another trip to Florida!

MYTMITE
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AHG, I think everyone who posts here has some nut or other loose

--so what the hay---anyway I think I am only going through withdrawals---much too long with no Kevin K to stir things up----where is that dashing flyboy anyway? Did he really get disgusted with everyone on this site and refuse to come back?? As for Florida there are more loose nuts of every assortment there than Georgia can even imagine.

Me thinks perhaps thee be a little bit jealous of the erudite and charming Mr. Garlock, eh?

moelarrycurly
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How about a new Hookah Bar in PTC

Looks like there's gonna be one over on Wisdom Rd. Council get to approve it this Thursday.

MYTMITE
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This is a joke, right?

Tell me I am being dense--that this really is a joke.

moelarrycurly
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mymite-it's on the agenda

recommended for approval. I kid you not.

Spyglass
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IF it fits the zoning what's the big deal?

I know of one in Statesboro that has good pizza. :)

moelarrycurly
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Who said it's a big deal?

Just curious if Statesboro has hookahs...if it does, then does that mean it's good to have hookahs in PTC?:)

Spyglass
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Not me

Just asking?

Frankly i doubt it will last.

moelarrycurly
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Guess it would depend

On where the customers come from..I suspect there is an unknown customer base here. So, did you use a hookah in Statesboro?

Spyglass
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No

Just ate the pizza. :)

kcchiefandy
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Well, concerning 'hookas'...

...my youngest daughter went through her 'hookah phase'; found it was nothing more than flavored tobaccos (I'm sure others find different uses for it, and I researched it/what/huh? - nothing else came in my house), but once relegated to the driveway they quickly gave it up. Her hookah is now in the Fayette Co. landfill. Oh, she smokes in no way now...smart girl; must have had good parental guidance... Trendy new 'hey, look at me' crap...

moelarrycurly
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Good parental guidance

She's fortunate. Seems last year's hookah bar applicant never opened over on 54 West. Don't know if this is a new location for those same people or not.

tgarlock
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Afraid my friend Jim is spot on . . .

. . . about cloning. I don't think I could stand another me, either.

Terry Garlock

istilldontknow
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Thanks Terry

I don't find you a "knuckle-dragging Neanderthal" at all. We all have our opinions, and if we can base them on facts, we're playing on an even field. I understand your approach, as I do Ginga's, and PTCO's, Mudcats, Gene Drakes, Steve Browns, and others.

I don't agree with them. That's the great thing about life - we can all have different approaches.

I'm going to vote yes. I would think it's good if the tax passes, but if it doesn't, I'm sure whatever is needed will get done, as it always does. I don't see that starving government will do anything but force government to make populist decisions instead of considering the whole - what the republic I pledge allegiance to is supposed to do.

I'm signing off from blogging for now - I've done enough damage, I'm sure....I challenge anyone with an opinion (especially one that may stray from the same six bloggers on this site) to chime in and let folks know that Fayette County isn't one-sided - there are those of us here without "agendas" who think government can be good.

Goodbye :)

tgarlock
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I totally agree istilldontknow . . .

. . . there is plenty of room for good people to disagree right here in Fayette county, and no need to move elsewhere when your opinion is swimming upstream. I would defend you against anyone's personal slight no matter how much we disagree.

Now this conversation is a good example of why I usually stay off these blogs. A little like riding a tiger, once you start, it's hard to stop.

Terry Garlock

PTC Observer
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ISDK - On the contrary

You have done a great service in exposing what motivates us to attempt to get something for nothing. Or should I say at the expense of someone else?

Cheers

ginga1414
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If All Knuckle-Dragging Neanderthals

make a much sense as you do about transportation projects and inflated government, Mr. Garlock, give me a knuckle-dragging neanderthal.

Thank you sooo much!

Your 10 year old (Thank God) has a smart Daddy.

efdrakejr
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Terry & Randy

A few questions and observations to your points:

1. If we had local control only, and by that I assume you mean Fayette County would make the decisions on its needs and all other counties would make their own decisions on their needs, do you think the 74/85 interchange would be on Fulton's list? The vast, vast majority of Fulton residents live north of that interchange and they have absolutely no motivation to fix what is a big problem for many, many Fayette residents but relatively few Fulton residents. It simply wouldn't get done with your approoach. By having some regional cooperation, however, it is going to be done and provide a tremendous relief to our county.

2. Among other things, the teacher in Alpharetta is getting the 400/85 interchange fixed and the dentist in DeKalb is getting the MARTA Clifton Corridor project. Those were the projects that their elected representatives felt were important to them and the regional representation as a whole agreed upon (unanimously). There is nothing nefarious, or even lustful, in the approach.

3. Everyone knows that there is government waste but if you're waiting for government to run at 100% efficiency before you try to solve some of our problems, it's going to be long wait. Would you refuse to give the military any more money because the GSA is run by a bunch of knuckleheads? Of course not, so I think a better approach is to focus on the particular agency which would control this new tax money. For the road projects, that will be GDOT and as this National Cooperative Highway Research Program study shows, GDOT is number one in the nation at deliverying projects within budget and number two at delivering them on time, http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP20-24(37)A(01)_FR.pdf. GDOT is clearly doing a good job managing your tax dollars so I don't think it's fair to paint every government employee or agency with the same broad brush.

4. This is more to Randy's point that we're taxed enough. Georgia has one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation and we spend the second least per capita on our transportation infrastructure. I share your frustration that Uncle Sam is getting a lot of my money but I think we need to cull the ineffective agencies but support the ones that are doing a good job and providing legitimate government functions.

Randy Boyett
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Seems to me

Expecting government to be efficient is not unreasonable

In our family budgets we make choices as to how available income is spent or saved - do we want the Lamborghini or the six month hiatus sailing on the Med? We can have one but not both - make a choice.

If you want more roads, then decide what will be sacrificed to fund those projects. No more taxes - live within the revenues available.

IMHO

istilldontknow
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Mr. Boyett...

does your family have 5 million members, each with their own set of needs?

Where do you see the Lamborghini's in government spending for transportation in Fayette County?

What would you suggest be cut - play the role of the council/commission - let's start in Fayette County - what do you think should be cut and why?

Randy Boyett
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Seems to me

Expecting government to be efficient is not unreasonable

In our family budgets we make choices as to how available income is spent or saved - do we want the Lamborghini or the six month hiatus sailing on the Med? We can have one but not both - make a choice.

If you want more roads, then decide what will be sacrificed to fund those projects. No more taxes - live within the revenues available.

IMHO

tgarlock
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Not going to debate tit for tat . . .

. . . will leave others to practice their favorite sport. However, I don't know why Fayette needs a gift from Fulton to fix the 74/85 interchange. We all pay taxes on every gallon of gas we buy, and GDOT should be addressing that issue without any TSPLOST push. Maybe Fayette and Fulton need to cooperate on feeder road issues, but surely that could be worked out without forking over our sovereignty to a regional commission. But maybe I'm just a Neanderthal.

Randy has an excellent point of doing a better job managing the resources we have, and you are right that we shouldn't expect 100% efficiency out of government. If we could maybe tighten it up to 50% I think we would all benefit.

All that said, I confess I am a rank amateur on transportation issues. I'll leave the rest of the debate to you pros.

Terry Garlock

ginga1414
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tgarlock and Randy, EUREKA!

I stayed up until 3:00 AM this morning composing what I thought was the basis for the entire Regional T-SPLOST matter. You both beat me to it. But I'm glad you beat me to it because y'all have said what I would have said with fewer words. THANK YOU!

At last we get to the heart of the matter. Enough is enough, and too much is too much!

As much as billions upon billions in new taxes scares me, giving up "local control" scares me more.

Having local representatives doing the "go along to get along" shuffle with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is bad enough. But we can vote them out of office. However, we don't have any choice in the matter when other representatives from other cities and counties are making decisions that will change our lives for the next 10, 20, 30 years and possibly forever. This thing is leading to a permanent Transit tax.

Governor Perdue and our legislators stacked the deck against all Georgia taxpayers when they signed the TIA, and that is beyond scary.

This same scenario is being played out in all the individual regions in Georgia. If MARTA can't pull themselves out of hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink, what assurance do we have that GRTA will handle things any better?

Randy Boyett
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IMHO

Totally missing the point in my humble opinion –
TSPLOST is a new TAX. I can understand the lobbyist wanting to see it pass so that they can sell more concrete, rebar, etc. I can understand the state officials wanting it to pass as it keeps them from the hard work of efficiently using what is there already.
The reality is that there is probably enough waste in the government budgets to get these projects done if there is strong management and tough decisions are made. There are current taxes tied to gasoline, property, income, etc. that increase as prices or values or salaries increase. Use what you have wisely and decide how to best spend currently approved taxes.
Increased taxes are the easy way – we are taxed more than enough now. Do the hard work and make what you have as efficient as it can be. If you want new transit – make the hard choices using current revenue streams.
My position: no new TAXES. We don’t need new taxes – we need better management and policy making IMHO.

Davids mom
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Randy Boyette
Quote:

The reality is that there is probably enough waste in the government budgets to get these projects done if there is strong management and tough decisions are made

Interesting observation. I look forward to the meeting in Fayetteville.

mudcat
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Efficiency in management not really possible

Those in government who are supposed to manage such things have had it too good for too long and simply have no understanding how to cut back or make priorities. It has been decades of nothing but growth. Probably 2 generations of government workers has come and gone without any thought to efficiency. The system itself encourages waste, corruption and excessive regulation. Why do you think it costs $1million to build just 1 mile of road - the concrete?

The TSPLOT is their last chance to grab some big dollars to keep the inefficient machine chugging along for another 10 or 20 years - yes 20 years, anybody who actually believes the tax will end on schedule is a fool.
So let them swing for the fences one time. It will certainly fail region-wide and then the gridlock will eventually wake everybody up and somebody - probably a Republican governor like Johnny Isakson - will clean house of all the government drones and ease up on the overregulation and something may get done - OR NOT, in which case people will just move to avoid the worst congestion and let Atlanta strangle itself.

PTC Observer
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Headline August 1st 2012

TSPLOST FAILS

Spyglass
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I believe it may pass overall..

according to the turnout in Fulton/Clayton/Dekalb/Rockdale...

My mind is made up, too much rapid transit for my blood. Even Ginga can see that the ATL is TOO spread out for it to work. Voting no here.

mudcat
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369, the goose drank wine, the monkey chewed tobacco

on the street car line.

Well poetry fans, we don't really need the street car line to Conyers - do we? I think that got snuffed, but even if it didn't there are plenty of reasons to snuff this stupid and idiotic transportation tax. Fayette will vote against it. DeKalb will certainly vote for it, Clayton too, but that's about it. Oddly enough there are not enough Democrats registered to vote in Rockdale to put this over the top. Cobb and Gwinnett, no, no, no.

The line broke, the monkey got choked and they all went to heaven in a big row boat. 369, the goose drank wine*********************** etc, etc,

istilldontknow
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What are those reasons to vote against the TSPLOST?

I'm curious - why won't you be voting for it?

mudcat
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Duh, $7billion dollars to gain 6 minutes of commute time

Does that make any kind of sense at all?
No it does not.
And even the dumbest envirocrat who thinks rail is the answer to all problems would have trouble with that math.

kcchiefandy
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Just a thought, Mudcat...

...besides saving little in commute time, we have the growth of public transit workers, which undoubtedly will lead to unions, or growth of unions, which will increase the cost of maintaining the lines and/or service(s), passed on to the consumer/taxpayer. Is MARTA doing well? Just sayin'...

I am not versed in this, just postulating. Am I leaning to being right or wrong?

istilldontknow
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6 minutes times....

6 minutes times 10 commutes per week = 1 hour
average number of working weeks in a year = 48 (assumes 4 weeks vacation), 48 hours of savings per year
Average daily commuters in Atlanta = my SWAG = 100,000 = 4.8 million hours a year
Average cost of an hour of commuting time = $2.10 (see web link below)
Average savings of 4.8 million hours a year = $10.08 million dollars

So in 10 years, $7 billion spent will save, just on today's habits, 100 million dollars. And I think I'm WAY low on the average daily commuters in Atlanta, a town of 5 million people. Let's say that 1 million commute instead of 100,000. Now the $7 billion dollars spent saves $1 billion, assuming no additional savings measures come to pass from this.

This doesn't JUST improve commute time, though - it repairs things that aren't being fixed (bridges, intersections), introducing new transit options to the area....so the benefits outweigh just 6 minutes.

More fun facts - http://www.cleanaircampaign.org/For-the-Press/Press-Kit/Commuting-and-Tr...

G35 Dude
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istilldontknow- The Clean Air Campaign is part of the problem

The Clean Air campaign is part of the reason that we have the gridlock that we have. They have stood in the way of road development in favor of mass transit for years. They force me to waste $25 per vehicle every year to get a tag. I've never had a car fail. I'd love to know how many do and if this expense is really worth while. I'd really rather just pay a $25 clean air tax that could be used to buy forest land, make low interest loans to Georgia Power to clean up their smoke stacks, and the airlines for the planes. Lets face it if you really want clean air you'll accomplish a lot more with Ga power and the airlines than by making me waste $25 every year. The airport is the reason that we have low air quality. And then we could just dump this useless agency that helped cause our gridlock problems and finally get cleaner air.

mudcat
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Dope, go talk to the concrete guy

I'm through with you.

istilldontknow
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way to debate the issues!

Is that how a discussion and debate of issues should go? Someone takes their ball and goes home? Constructive dialogue...sell me on why I shouldn't vote for the TSPLOST based on reason.

ptctaxpayer
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Once Mudcat's intellectual

Once Mudcat's intellectual elevator hits her top floor, she gets angry and stops debating anything remotely factual. Then comes the name calling and, finally, "I hate you". How wonderfully helpful. Yeah, Mudcat, good long cruise would be good for you and your hubby who probably needs that open bar to get past your latest shopping spree at Victoria's secret.

I like Mayor Dial's idea for a "Wire Chat" panel discussion or whatever he calls it.

Anytime somebody is afraid to debate the issue they are conceding the issue. I think TSLOST is just another tax grab designed to bail out Atlanta with little long term thought. But we need to debate the thing.

MYTMITE
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BECAUSE I SAID SO! So take your lobbyist check and go cash it

and buy you a six pack of Yoo Hoo's and a pack of Lil Debbie's and leave us alone.

istilldontknow
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The Citizen Blogs = A Private Club?

If your opinion is different from someone else's, do you get excluded?

When you want to debate the issues, are you told to go away?

I think that "freedom" means freedom of all viewpoints, not just one slant or side of an issue.

I am a resident of Fayette County, a taxpayer in Fayette County, and a voter in Fayette County, probably the same as you.

Others might agree with me, but if the environment isn't welcoming, they'll probably never try to voice their opinion.

I like arguments based on reason and fact, but others apparently enjoy emotional arguments with little factual support. To each their own, I guess, but to combat an assertion with "go away" just, well, could be construed as a weak defense.

Davids mom
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Istilldontknow

Continue to participate. It's not necessary to choose a 'side'. When reason and fact aren't apparent, some may resort to a weak defense - others just stop playing.

Citizen Bob
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Mr. Lawler, address the issues

Three counties that stand to receive the largest share of their taxes in project & discretionary dollars (Cherokee, Henry, and Fayette) are the same three that are most opposed to the 10-year tax; citizens aren't just interested in "What are we getting?", but also very interested in knowing, "What are we getting INTO?"

Mr Lawler expounds on the former and ignores the latter.

What ARE we getting in to?
- Regional planning, project selection, taxes, and expenses; so decisions made in other counties will affect how our taxes are spent now and on future obligations (MARTA posted a $506m operating loss last year).
- A project list with over half of our regional TIA taxes earmarked for more MARTA type projects... projects that will collectively carry less than 2% of commuters. Mr Lawler, what say you?
- Expansion of government-operated, under-serving bus & train transit projects that have required 80% subsidies by non-users. Is that fair, Mr. Lawler?
- $931,400,000 of our regional taxes for studies and MARTA repair & rehab projects that won't take a single car off the road.
- No explanation of how the funds already budgeted for the 157 projects will be spent (anyone think it'll be returned to taxpayers?).
- The fact that the Speaker of the House and the Lt Governor appoint the members of his touted Citizen Review Panel (hint: both are strong TIA advocates & supporters).
- The fact that many of the transit projects are only partially funded with the first 10 year tax collections.

None of the "voter education" networks or the Atlanta Regional Commission tell voters these facts, and Mr. Lawler drags a red herring across our path with his talk of "what we're getting to avoid doing so."

Fayette, Cherokee, and Henry County voters are well aware of what we may be getting, we're even MORE aware of what we could be getting INTO.

Attend the debate between Commissioner Brown and me, and officers from the Metro Atlanta Chamber & MAVEN on Tuesday, June 5th 6:30PM at the Harvest Christian Community Church. 383 N. Glynn (GA Hwy 85), Fayette. Vote on July 31, and please vote "NO". Mr Lawler can find another government boondogle to hype.

istilldontknow
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bob ross - this might help one of your questions

- No explanation of how the funds already budgeted for the 157 projects will be spent (anyone think it'll be returned to taxpayers?).

Here's an answer from DOT:
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/localgovernment/FundingPrograms/transreferend...

What happens if a project chosen for the region’s project list is already programmed with federal, state or local funding?

If a project with federal funding is now on the project list for a region’s sales tax funding, the federal funds allocated to this project will be used on other projects within the same region. Due to a state requirement of balancing our federal and state funds among the 13 Congressional Districts, funds “freed” up will have to be spent in the same congressional district. Also, there is no guarantee that a project in the STIP or TIP will actually have funding to deliver the project in the assigned program year. The US Congress has not been able to produce a long term transportation bill in over two years and so federal funds are not guaranteed on specific projects. The STIP or TIP are planning documents based on projected federal revenue.

And I believe for other funding already programmed, they'll be able to move that money to other things - and possible reduce future tax burdens (which is essentially a reduction for your next year's taxes).

Josh Bloom
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This is my favorite of their

This is my favorite of their FAQ...

http://www.dot.state.ga.us/localgovernment/FundingPrograms/transreferend...

What happens if project costs exceed the project budget?

Project controls will be put into place to limit cost over-runs. GDOT is committed to designing projects according to scope, schedule and budget. The regional Citizens Review Panels— appointed by the state’s leadership—will provide oversight and monitor how dollars are spent.

Whoever wrote this never answered their own FAQ. The question was...What happens if the project costs exceed the project budget? The answer...

Oh, that would never happen.

Give me a break, when was the last time you saw a government project NOT go over budget.

istilldontknow
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Generalizations...

The last time a government project NOT go over budget...let's see...

I think Mr. Drake posted this, but from the Transportation Review Board:

http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP20-24%2837%29A%2801...

Georgia DOT's projects - 85% on time (2nd in nation), 85% on budget (1st in nation) for projects between 2001 and 2010, as reported in April 2011.

If past performance is an indicator of future results, I'm feeling 85% confident :)

Any other specious arguments I may debunk for you?

ginga1414
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istilldontknow and Generalizations

I'm more than well aware of all the elements connected to any construction project. Many members of my family have been and are involved in various types of construction businesses.

They all know and have told me that if their estimates aren't honed to a finite degree, they will lose money big time.

Considering the fact that the GDOT works on a much larger scale than warehouse builders, subdivision builders, or industrial complex builders, the potential for loss is much, much greater.

The 15% in time and budget that isn't met adds up to billions upon billions of dollars.

But that's okay. After all whatever the cost might be, WE the taxpayers have to provide.

I'm still not convinced. I'm still going to the Regional T-SPLOST Debate on Tuesday, June 5th, at 6:30 pm, which will be held at the Harvest Christian Community Center, 383 N. Glynn Street/GA Hwy. 85 N, Fayetteville in the Fayette Place Center behind the hot yellow Mexican Restaurant.

efdrakejr
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Some Answers

Bob - Here are some answers:

- We're not getting into regional planning with the TIA; we've been there for 50 years. In 1962, the federal government mandated Metropolitan Planning Organizations (the ARC is an MPO) in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures of governmental funds for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (“3-C”) planning process. The TSPLOST idea that didn't quite make it through the legislature in 2008 (fell 3 votes short) was for a state-wide tax but it failed because of concerns that there wasn't enough local control. Now we have a regional bill with much more local control. Would you have preferred the other approach?

- I'm surprised that there is so much transit too but we got projects that are important to us and the urban counties got projects that are important to them. If they want their projects to be transit, that's their call. You're starting to sound like a Democrat who wants to decide what's best for everyone.

- I'm pretty sure everything on this list is government operated, including the roads. I'll grant you that they are not subsidized at the rate that transit is.

- I'm not sure you can argue that MARTA repairs won't take a single car off the road. I suspect many more people will be attracted to a better maintained MARTA with reliable trains and facilities. As for the studies, would you rather we just committed money to more transit instead of evaluating it?

- I think you are incorrect that the 157 projects are already budgeted. They may already be on the books as a necessary project and in many cases the design may already be done but the real money to actually construct the project is most certainly not budgeted for most, if not all, of the projects.

- I think you're taking a cynical view of the Speaker and Lt. Governor but there is no sense arguing speculation.

- On your last item, is your point that some of the transit projects are not fully funded but are also getting federal funds (this is true of some of the road projects as well) or that they will have operations and maintenance expenses well past the 10 years (this is also true of roads but I want to answer your point)?

I'm looking forward to the debate. I hope I have more of an opportunity to answer your demagogue buddy than I did last week in Cherokee. I enjoy hearing your presentation but it has to be hard sitting up there next to Steve-O while he spews half-truths and exaggerations.

ginga1414
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Mr. Drake Is Absolutely Right

I know Mr. Drake won't respond to my comment. He has already said that I am off his communication list.

That's okay.

But he is right when he said, "there is no sense arguing speculation."

Projected figures from models out to 2020, 2030, and even 2040 are nothing more than "speculation."

Mr. Drake, Mr. Lawler, istilldontknow, the ARC, etc. are asking us to provide billions upon billions based upon pure "speculation."

istilldontknow
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billions boiled down

I'm actually not asking you for any money.

I'm opining that that we're quibbling over $4 to $6 per month.

Now I will ask you - how much do you spend monthly, on average, on items that have sales taxes added to them in this region?

ginga1414
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istilldontknow and $4 to $6 per month?

Where are you getting those figures?

Are you telling me that you don't spend more than $400 to $600 per month on utilities, food, clothes, shoes, cars, appliances, car parts, building materials, etc.?

We spend a whole heck of a lot more than $400 to $600 per month in the region.

istilldontknow
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$4 to $6 per month - I stand corrected!

You (yourself) buy car parts every month? Building materials? Cars? Shoes?

Wow - I wish I could afford to buy all of those things every month, but I digress.

I did make my assumption based on a 1% increase in taxes on food alone, but you're right, when you put in utilities, my one percent increase in taxes will go up to $12 per month, or $144 per year. So I would need to reduce something in my personal life by $12 a month, $3 per week...to improve our region. Still a bargain, and I was just paying that two years ago, so I can probably still afford it, as I believe a lot of people can.

What's $3 per week?
1 Extra Value Meal at McDonalds
1 3 lb Bag of fresh carrots at Publix (and if you're over 60, go shopping on Wednesdays, you get 5% off your total bill, so that's like getting all of your taxes back plus!)
1 large coffee at Starbucks

Again, we're talking small sacrifices for larger gains. I'm good with that.

Citizen Bob
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Gene

After hearing each other's opinions at several forums, we simply see the matter differently. I respect your analyses and appreciate the consideration you've shown me.

Citizen Bob
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.

.

pips1414
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What about operating in the black?

Mr. Drake. Would you please state in your own words how rapid rail transit operations in metro Atlanta will operate "in the black" assuming the TSPLOST is approved? The ten county ARC Atlanta area is much more sparsely populated per square mile than other comparable cities. With MARTA drowning in red ink and ridership down, do you have any reliable data you can actually post online which will show that rapid transit will finally operate profitably?

istilldontknow
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TSPLOST Issues

Bob:

Please answer these two questions for me:

1. How much is the estimated total amount of taxes that will be collected in Fayette County if the TSPLOST is passed?

2. What is the estimated amount of expenditures slated for Fayette County and its municipalities (ONLY) projects in the TSPLOST?

Please provide links to your data for us. Please don't answer any other questions regarding this post. Others - please let Bob answer.

If the amount of taxes we pay in the County equal the amount of benefit we get (or get close, 80/20 or 75/25 to the County's benefit), I'm good with the tax increase. If more than 20-25% of the equivalent amount of taxes we pay in the County are going outside the County, well I guess we'll need to understand what benefits Fayette County residents will get from those improvements (what's going on in the southern crescent, then?)

Right now, I'm FOR the TSPLOST - something is better than nothing, and if you drive the roads I do, funds for improvements are needed.

Citizen Bob
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Istilldon'tknow

The GA State Economist estimates 10-year TIA tax collections of $190.2m from Fayette County. $47m will be disbursed to the five cities and the county at large for transportation uses of their choice.

The Final Project List contains 10 projects under the Fayette County Project ID code, two of which are also identified as joint jurisdictional projects: TIA-FA-026 with Fulton County and TIA-CL-012 with Clayton County.

The estimated TIA taxes allocated for the first eight projects is $111.56m; the Fayette-Fulton project cost is $18.3m, and the Fayette-Clayton projects is $8.1m.

When computing the TIA project tax dollars for Fayette County, I add $47 + $111.56 and half of the dollars for the two multi-county projects, or $13.2m for a total of $171.76- just over 90%. Many of us would also benefit from Fulton County project TIA-FS-008, the $22.5m to improve the I-85 & GA 74 intersection.

There is one more dimension to the accounting: planners are including some expected local and federal funds for several projects. Since those taxes are not on the July 31 ballot we're voting on, I don't usually include them, but their combined amounts are as follows:
TIA-FA-026 $12m
TIA-CL-012 $32.08m

My bottom line? Fayette joins Cherokee and Henry Counties at the top of the heap for total 10-year TIA tax benefits.

An on-line source of record is the Final Project Fact Sheets, available at the RTR website in pdf format here: http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/

After reminding the ARC of GA's Sunshine Law and Open Records Act, I obtained an Excel version of the 157 projects, their jurisdictions, costs, etc. That enabled sorting and quickly adding categories of costs.

What does our region get for all of the taxes?

ARC analysts published congestion reduction estimates for 63 road projects in Annex A of their Feb 21, 2012 report "Travel Impacts of the Transportation Referendum (available at the same web site). To help assess cost-benefit of these projects, I ran an Excel analysis and discovered that the correlation between those estimates and project costs was only 5% ... some very inexpensive projects reduce congestion significantly, while some very expensive ones are expected to provide much less congestion relief.

I sent that analysis to the ARC's Research Division Chief for comment last week, but haven't received a response yet.

On the transit side, ARC estimates a combined total of 74,800 daily boardings in 2025 (same ref., p.4), which equals about 35k riders, or less than 2% our regional commuters (per their FY 2011 Annual Report p.71, MARTA's ridership has been declining; http://www.itsmarta.com/reports.aspx).

Equally disturbing is that a number of transit projects are only partially funded, and will also rely on as-yet specified sources for their O&M deficits after the current 10-year tax expires.

I believe our region can apply $7.2b much more effectively across the region we all drive in, and we must work with elected officials to that end.

ginga1414
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istilldontknow and Bob Ross

I would never presume to answer for Bob because he is the expert here. However, istilldontknow, there is far more involved in making a voting decision concerning the Regional T-SPLOST than your two questions.

You will be selling yourself short and everyone else, as well, if you don't consider all the facts.

We've known Bob for four years and I can safely say that he is the most meticulous person I've ever met. He isn't a road builder, concrete lobbyist, Chamber of Commerce master lobbyist, or politician. He is a retired career military man and truly cares about what happens to our county, state, and country.

The entire process of a REGIONAL anything is specifically designed to take away, bit by bit, our local representation/our local voice.

Please consider the fact that more than 50% of the T-SPLOST funds will go to transit projects which would benefit only about 5% of commuters, thereby doing little or nothing to alleviate traffic congestion.

istildontknow, to give both sides of the issue a fare shot please attend the Tuesday, June 5th, T-SPLOST Debate in Fayetteville. It will be at 6:30 pm, at the Harvest Christian Community Center 383 N. Glynn Street/GA Hwy 85 N., in the Fayette Place Center, behind the yellow Mexican Restaurant.

istilldontknow
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T-SPLOST Debate - It DOES ADD UP

Ginga:

Thanks for the invite, but I can't attend, as I'll be listening to the wireside chat with the ARC going on that same night. It's a shame that this debate is in conflict with another event talking about the same thing; some might call that more than a coincidence, but I'm sure it's all a matter of scheduling.

While I'm awaiting Bob's reply, I do see from the following link a little bit about where the money goes:

========================================================
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (for those who hate reading and research):
1. Fayette County will get back about 100% of what they put in for projects that benefit citizens of Fayette County.

2. Paying one penny per dollar for improving our home is just as easy as giving to your favorite charity, and charity begins at home.
========================================================

The gory details...

http://www.metroatlantatransportationreferendum.com/documents/following_...

So Fayette County will be contributing an estimated $223 million to get back $53 million for local (in County projects). That's 23% we get back and 77% that gets put into the region. Ouch!

Well, now let's see the projects that are of regional benefit that will affect MY ride (because, hey, that's what it's all about, right?)

Some links if you want to follow along:

http://www.metroatlantatransportationreferendum.com/documents/project_ma...

http://documents.atlantaregional.com/TIA/FAYETTE-TIA-for-ARC-Board-4-25-...

Interactive map - http://www.metroatlantatransportationreferendum.com/map/TIA.html

These are the REGIONAL PROJECTS that are actually happening in Fayette County, from what I'm reading, so actually this will be more than the $53 million for other local projects:

-MacDuff Parkway extension - $6.4 million
-Two new path extensions down on the south side of PTC - $1.2 and $1.15, so $2.35 million
-East Fayetteville Bypass - $35 million
-Improvements to GA 85 - $12 million TIA funds and GA 92 - $20 million for North part and $15.9 million for the South part
-Improvements to GA 54 from Tara Blvd to McDonough Rd - $8 million, but I'll cut that to $2 million for the "Fayette County portion" to be conservative

So add that up, and we have an additional $93.65 million to add to that $53 million of "local discretion projects" - so that's $146.65 million of benefits we get in Fayette County for paying an estimated $223 million in.

That's now 65% to the County, 35% to "the rest of the region". Looking better.

OK, what will help me get to work in ATL?
-Intersection Improvements at GA 74 /I-85 - $11.25 million
-Starting the Commuter Rail process in from Griffin through Clayton County to ATL - $20 million
- Infrastructure/Bridge fixes to MARTA from Airport to College Park and fix the pedestrian bridge over US 29 at the Lakewood MARTA station - $90 million overall, but I'll say $15 million to just focus on the areas we might use.
- Replace bridges downtown on/near Central Ave. - $27 million
- Coordinate traffic lights and fix issues on Boulevard - $1.15 million
- Fix Ponce from Spring to Clifton - ooh, that works when I have to go to Emory - $.618 million
- Fix Peachtree from Spring to Trinity - yeah, that really does back up unnecessarily, doesn't it? - $.434 million

OK, just using those things in places I go fairly regularly, that's another $75 million to help me on my commute from Fayette County to ATL. Add that up, and we now have $221.65 million in expenses for Fayette County's $223 million contribution, and that's for ONE PARTICULAR PERSON'S COMMUTE. I think paying that tax will benefit me quite well.

Now, how much will I really pay?

OK, so as an individual taxpayer paying sales taxes on, let's say, $1,000 per month on shopping in town, that means I will pay $10 per month, or $120 per year, or $1,200 in 10 years, to work toward these fixes?

Where do I sign up?

Local control/regional control arguments are nice, but who maintains Highway 54, 74 and 85 now? That's right, the state does. Who keeps up the Interstate you hop on when you go to Atlanta? That's right - the state and other jurisdictions.

We can't put up a fence around the county and charge a toll - folks come in and out, and should, just as we do when we have to get things that aren't in our County (and unless you control all manufacturing and supply, EVERYTHING WE GET COMES FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE).

Will I pay $120 a year to allow someone I don't know a better ride to work, school or the doctor, or allow someone (maybe even me) a potentially better experience? Will I spend money to help invest in making our area stay vibrant and get good jobs so we can refill all of these foreclosed homes?

Sure - I give more to charity each year, why not contribute some of that here at home.

You might guess that I have made up my mind on this issue, and I know I won't sway anyone with my arguments, but if you want a perfect solution, call me when you find it. This is "close enough for government work" for me. If you don't like it, buy all of your goods outside of the region and drive them back in so you don't have to participate in this :)

PTC Observer
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istilldontknow - well

Well that's good for you, but what about those that don't travel to Atlanta?

What about those that are retired, or poor, or just got laid off?

I guess those people should just suck it up and pay up for your commute to Atlanta. Right?

Now, if you want to pay a toll.....for something you use everyday...I am all for that...or are you like everyone else that votes for this tax....gasp! selfish?

Say it's not so istilldontknow.

istilldontknow
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OK, I'll bite (TSPLOST and retired/poor/laid off)

I'm sure this will go over great, but I'll bite:

Since this is a SALES tax, which is based on consumption, not a PROPERTY or AD VALOREM tax, based on value, let's play out the scenarios:

1. Retired/fixed income. I know someone very near and dear to my heart in this category. They don't leave Fayette County for anything (well, scratch that, they had some medical issues that required them to go to Emory and Piedmont in Atlanta), but I digress.

This person lives alone, so the sales tax that person pays is for their single consumption of food and supplies. That person spends $400 a month on supplies (as an example, your mileage may vary). So, increase that spending $4 a month. $4 a month.

2. Poor. Let's assume that the person is truly the definition of poor. For a family of four, they make no more than $2297 per month (see http://savingtools.com/tips/how-apply-a-georgia-compass-ebt-card-food-st...). They get an EBT maximum of $588 per month for food. That's, rounded a $6 per month loss of benefits due to the tax. $6 a month.

3. Laid off. This one is always the toughest, but let's assume I know some folks who have been laid off. They need to get to job interviews that may or may not be in the County. Job interviews need to take place at certain times, so being prompt is important. Also, if they are receiving unemployment benefits, they may have to occasionally visit the unemployment office; that office is in Jonesboro (http://www.dol.state.ga.us/findus/popup_cc_clayton_county.htm) for those who live in Fayette County. They make like the improvements on 54. If they have no money coming in, whatever additional tax amount they are required to pay if the vote passes is 1% more of whatever available funds they have than they did before the tax was passed - all from whatever money they've got. I hope they're able to get a job soon.

Alright, so those situations addressed, let's follow the pay-a-toll philosophy. Let's make the assumption you live in PTC, as your screen name may reflect, so to leave your house to go shopping, you have three options:

1. Streets
2. Paths
3. Rights-of-way and neighbors' yards.

The streets and path maintenance are funded by both SALES and VALUE taxes, but let's say we make the arterial roads (Peachtree Parkway, Crosstown, etc.) toll, since you're just using them for yourself, right?

OK, we'll go to the paths, a wonderful amenity but not necessary (yeah, I know that's not right). You should pay a toll for the exclusive use of those too.

Don't want to pay for those? Amazon can deliver you food, and TAX FREE! But wait - the UPS delivery system has to use those same roads, so they'll have to pay those tolls in your example, so what you pay for Amazon will go up. But you won't be paying that outrageous transportation tax!

One more possibility for you - you can't stand the ARC. You can give your transportation tax dollars to Coweta, which isn't in the ARC. Take your car to Sams Club. But wait, that means the other sales tax money that Fayette County and PTC got to fund the street and path and other things the City and County run will go down if you do that, which will make the roads you use harder to maintain, so you may not be able to travel smoothly in your example world.

Good luck to you. Fixing things costs money. We have less money all around, so in addition to reducing expenditures, we have to find ways to raise revenues that don't hurt so bad that they make it impossible.

Find your pennies, folks. We all need them to improve our area.

In closing - $4/month. $6/month. You're quibbling over that (oh, and your supposed loss of freedom).

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istilldontknow - OK

Thanks for those judgments, what's $4 or $6 bucks to anyone when it's not your money? Right?

So, here is my point again. You want someone else to pay for your commute, you don't want to pay for it.

That's a pretty simple concept.

You see, I was taught that you should pay for things you use. That you shouldn't force people to give you their property. These are pretty simple ideas.

istilldontknow
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What's $4 or $6?

Well, if you shop at Publix, here's a sample of some things you can get for $4 or $6. Remember, you have to substitute one of these a month for the tax:

A pound of fresh tilapia filets - $5.99
3 lb bag of baby carrots - $3.69
A pound of boneless pork chops - $3.99
2 tubs of Country Crock mashed potatoes - $6.00

Will anyone go hungry if any one particular item from this list is removed, given everything else that might be bought in a month's worth of shopping?

istilldontknow
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You live on Indian Land...

so I don't know about that "force people to give you their property" thing.

I AM going to pay; I would like to have all of us contribute a little instead of a few of us contributing so much we can't afford it.

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istilldontknow - Paid commute?

So, you believe that someone else should pay for your commute to Atlanta? Instead of "a few of us contribute so much", you would like to take someone else's property to reduce your cost.

It doesn't matter what the 4 or 6 bucks will buy, it has nothing to do with you, what people do with their property is their business not yours. You attempt to make it your business by taking their property by force so you can use it for your own benefit.

In other words, you believe like so many others that stealing is ok as long as everyone agrees that it's ok to steal. Kind of like a gang, isn't it?

Really, istilldontknow these are pretty simple concepts here, don't you get them? Are you DM's son, David?

istilldontknow
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Taxes = Stealing?

So let's follow that logic...."what people do with their property is their business not yours". I guess that means that ANY money taken away from someone who earns it is stolen. So Social Security, Federal and State Income Taxes are stolen, if we use that logic, since I never chose to have the government take those things from me.

Do you go outside of your house? Heck, do you use electricity or running water that doesn't come from your own well inside your house? Do you eat food that is processed or prepared by someone else? If you do, you're participating in society in some form or fashion - you're driving on the roads maintained by the government; you're using water provided by a government-supported entity; you're paying for electricity, while provided by a private company, has government regulation affecting its operations; you're buying food where the provider may be getting government subsidies and government regulation to ensure what you eat won't kill you.

What if you get injured or incapacitated or violated by someone else? You use a telephone that has a portion of its revenue provided to help fund the 911 service (which also has tax money that funds it) to have a public safety agency come to you with equipment and resources that have to be funded...

But I don't ever call the cops, I use water from my well, and I have my own solar power, I make my own food, clothing and soap, and I only walk on the sides of roads! Since everyone pays for the services, even though you don't use them, you say that is stealing your property!

Yeah, good luck with that. Whose Internet connection are you using to post online? I know, I know, you paid for it, but I'm sure your provider gets something from the government - ooh, the Internet itself!

And the whole point of a vote, which is what we'll be doing on or before July 31, is to give all of us a choice. If more of us vote to have the tax, we'll have the tax - government at its best (and most wishy-washy, since we in vote representatives to make these decisions for us, but I digress).

I'm an adult who wants something done to help improve the road situations in and around Atlanta. I don't live in fantasyland - I know this solution isn't the perfect solution - we don't have the perfect solution, that's why we're living - to try to do the best we can with what we're provided.

I don't take all of the roads or any of the transit that is being proposed for additional projects, but I want the region to be better than it is now. Yes, I'm okay with my taxes going to support someone else - that's how most of our taxes are used. What I pay for Social Security today pays for others to receive the benefit; what I pay in property taxes doesn't immediately go to pay for only the services I use from government. To think there can only be a single correlation between what we contribute and what we receive when it comes to services the whole society needs isn't always productive - heck, it's socially Darwinistic. Be it charity or taxes, our society is built on a balance of personal freedom tempered with helping the society as a whole.

But let's pay tolls on all of our roads - that will go over great! THAT'S SHORTSIGHTED, in my opinion.

Again, $4 to $6 a month, folks - that's what you're quibbling about. Anything else is, in my mind, a non sequitur and a distraction.

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istilldontknow - ?

"I'm an adult who wants something done to help improve the road situations in and around Atlanta. I don't live in fantasyland - I know this solution isn't the perfect solution - we don't have the perfect solution, that's why we're living - to try to do the best we can with what we're provided"

Well I don't know about the adult part, but I do know you want someone else to pay for your commute to Atlanta.

BTW, you seemed very confused about the proper role of government vs. private property ownership and the freedom to choose on how you spend your money.

There is nothing you can say that changes the idea that what people have earned through their own abilities skills and labor is theirs not yours and certainly not the "majority's". If you want to work in Atlanta and live in Peachtree City or Fayette county you should pay the cost of going back and forth to work. Or you can simply move to Atlanta and live and work there. This choice is yours, don't force others to pay for your choice.

There is nothing you can say that says that voting to steal someones money or property is morally right. It is theft. Democracy, is like five guys getting in a room and four guys voting to take the fifth guy's money away from him because.....well just because they are the majority. If he doesn't turn over his money they just lock him up and then take his money. That's democracy.

There is no end to it, there will always be another good reason to take someones property: poor people, commutes, children, the earth, and the list goes on and on. The idea of the government as master philanthropist is fraught with moral fraud and personal destruction. You are simply expressing an idea that is morally wrong and against natural law.

But then again, you are with the majority of those reading these words, so I guess that vote makes me wrong.

istilldontknow
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Natural Law and Morality

So let me make sure I understand - you think all taxes are immoral?

And I only earn things based on my skills and abilities because someone gives them to me based on a standard that we call money. Otherwise, the only skills and abilities that would allow me to keep what I earn would be force and cunning alone - I would have to beat someone else to gain and keep what I have. What a wonderful world that would be (sarcasm intended)!

I'm happy to see that our society has evolved a bit past that. Compromise is what keeps our culture from killing each other - I can't have everything I want, and you can't have everything you want. We have built and grown our society based on a variety of efforts and sacrifices - we use our skills and abilities and we also give up certain freedoms (like going to work whenever we want, playing our radio as loud as we want, etc.) in order to keep the society functioning - we build our society in the best interest of the society as a whole.

No society such as ours can be 100% free, or 100% altruistic, or 100% totalitarian - it's all a balancing act - the role of government is to do for us what we cannot practically do on our own - health, safety and welfare. The distinctions of what fall into health, safety and welfare is where we all begin to have differences of opinion.

By being American, you tacitly approve of the balance of a republic - a balance where a constitution provides the framework for representatives to govern in the interests of the whole and not the majority.

In this particular instance, I believe that an effective way to fund transportation improvements is to allow those in their particular regions to pay an additional, very low amount when they consume things regardless of where they live (just where they consume or buy things), as consumption increases the load on the transportation system. There are improvements specifically spelled out for every region and the jurisdictions in those regions, and in Fayette County's case, what we'll put in will equate in dollars to what we'll get out of it - that's a good thing in my opinion.

And I don't think that voting for this (that is, having to vote for this) is the right thing to do. I think the representative government should have funded these fixes years ago, but since one of our tenets in our state is to allow those being taxed to choose if they are taxed by referendum, that's what we will do. And I'll say yes to that.

Morally right and wrong? Morality in our society is pluralistic; there is more than one "right" way to do things in our society, in my opinion. So you're not necessarily morally "wrong", but I don't think what you propose is realistic in our country.

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

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istilldontknow - Compromise

Yes, compromise that's an interesting philosophy. Let's compromise away our duty, our honor, our faith, our abilities, our skills, our property, our labor AND our freedom. We can also just compromise away our entire country while we're at it.

I think compromise is what has made this country, you're right.

Now, we don't have a republic ISDK, we have a representative democracy. So, let's be clear on that point at least. Government is nothing but compromise, that's why they left the Constitutional Convention with slavery as an acceptable form of property. However, it didn't make it morally right. You can't own someone, it's against God's law and natural law. Just like you can't vote to make taking someone's property by majority rule morally right. It's theft. I have already explain as simply as I can why this is so. You apparently don't get it, but you're not alone, so don't worry too much about it.

I said earlier you confuse the proper role of government the right of the masses to plunder, you haven't gotten this concept yet. The proper role of government is not to be some kind of master philanthropist, it's role is to protect us from, well the majority, and those that would take by force our property, our lives and our freedom. That's it. That's the role of government and if "we" decide that it's something else, well then I guess it must be morally right and correct? I don't think so, to the extent we move in this direction is the moment we begin the end to our freedom. Theft is theft whether at the point of a gun or at the pen of those that write "laws". Neither is morally right, no matter how many people vote for it.

So, I think we should pay taxes. We should pay taxes to the government to fulfill the social contract that we have with it. That it will protect us from those that would steal from us our life, our liberty and our property. That includes the government itself, it must be always watchful of using it's power against these ends. The Constitution was written with this in mind, it wasn't perfect, but it was a start toward individual freedom. A start that was flawed and as a result of this flaw we now have a government that finds it acceptable to plunder its people and enslave them to the will of the state.

This is truth, and the truth will set us free and lies will continue to enslave us. You can't change Natural Law just like you can't change the laws of physics.

istilldontknow
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OK, let's switch gears...

in your worldview, how does a road get built?

Do you live on property that was owned or controlled by someone else previously?

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Switching gears - funny

Isn't that how we started this dialog, talking about switching gears? You switching gears all the way to Atlanta using someone else's money.

It's always interesting to me that collectivists inevitability jump to roads as a way to illustrate how theft is not only justified but "practical".

A road gets built by buying property and building one. Let's take an example!

Let's say you live in a subdivision and it's brand new. The builder purchases land in a free market exchange. The builder then builds roads to his properties that connect with a main road that feeds into a state road that then connects into a freeway. Now the way it works today is that the builder once he has built the road to "state standards", the road is turned over to the government. Then the government takes over the maintenance and improvement if necessary. Everything is nice and neat, and someone living somewhere else that will never use the road in front of your house will pay for it's maintenance or improvement. Great! The road is virtually free to those that use it. However, this system takes property (cash) from the many to benefit the few.

In PTCO's world, the property would never be turned over to the government, it would belong to the people that used the streets within the neighborhood. If the streets there needed improvement or maintenance the people living there would do that it would be part of the obligations under which the home is sold. Well you say, what about the feeder roads, the state roads, and the "free"way. Well if you use them you pay for them. In fact, in today's high tech world of GPS, this form of user fee would be entirely possible.

The city, county, state, and federal governments would sell their roads to the highest bidder. They could use this money to reduce their outrageous debts.

So you say, but what happens when these roads get into the hands of unscrupulous capitalists that charge outrageous fees for their use. Yes, this could happen but remember we have these assets in the hands of the government, are they any less unscrupulous? Have you actually traveled on Atlanta city roads lately?

Anyway, if the private owners did this and reduced the number of users on their roads, then they wouldn't get much of a return on their investment would they? So, prices would find some sort of leveling effect. That's what you want a leveling of prices for the use of roads. Now the same thing would happen if the roads became unusable or not maintained well. The buyer would pay for something he's not getting, so the buyer would use something else, telecommute, car pool, take a different route, all of which would reduce paying customers and thus cause the owner to lower prices or improve the roads or both.

The problem is ISDK, is that everyone wants something for nothing, but this concept has gotten us record debts, poor services, poor results, and a frustrated citizenry. Unless we start insisting on individual freedom and free markets we will continue down a path to self destruction.

The answer to your last question is yes, now I suppose your going to bring up the next big collectivist idea that all this is a big sham because "we" stole the land from the Indians? Twisted minds justifies in some way the theft of property because, if our ancestors could do it, well why can't we? Well I have news for you ISDK, Indians had no concept of private property, so it's hard to steal something from some one that doesn't believe or understand property. Private property was born out of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a purely Western concept. Now once the Indians DID understand it, they liked to sell their land property and did so, over and over and over again to different buyers. They weren't stupid. ;-)

Welcome to my world!

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istilldontknow
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Neat - the Private Streets Concept

Thanks for your input - this is fascinating to me. I gather that you advocate an entire laissez-faire system where the standard is only set by the market.

Let's play this one out:

The neighborhood I live in has about 2 miles of roads in it. I take 1 mile of that road from my house in the morning. From there, I go to a county road for .5 a mile to get to a state highway I cross to get to another county road for about 6 miles to get to another state highway I go on for about 3 miles to get to a US highway that is also the convergence of several other state highways. Stay on that route for about 25 miles until I hit a City street for the remaining 3 miles to my job in the downtown area.

The average annual cost to maintain a road is, let's say, $25,000 a mile a year (I just googled one particular jurisdiction as a rounded example - I'm sure the actual number is different, but let's use a number someone has published as a baseline). I have 45 houses in my subdivision, so to properly maintain the roads in my subdivision, assuming an equitable distribution solely on the number of housing units in the subdivision, that would mean I need to give $556 a year for that, or $46 a month. But wait, not all of the houses in my subdivision are occupied - I know there are 5 that are for sale...so I have to pay more because I have fewer neighbors! My share will vary each year (I guess), since we need to pick a time each year to contribute. And who would collect this money for us, and pick the contractor to do the maintenance, since none of us are in the transportation business and know how to patch roads? And if I'm asking a company to ONLY come out and do my road, will my cost actually be $25,000 a mile? I think that price is usually negotiated by volume based on a series of roads...

OK, let's hop on those state and county roads now. Using the same factor of $25,000/mile/year, or , let's assume that for my city/county roads, the toll is set to have 1,000 cars a day on each county road, 2,000 on a state road and 2,500 on a US Highway (again, I'm sorry I have to assume, and I'm not going to consider interstates in this example, since I don't use them).

So that's $68/mile/day divided by 1,000 - $.07 a mile for county roads, $.04 a mile for state highways and $.03 a mile for a US Highway.

6.5 miles a trip on a county maintained road = $.46 a trip

3 miles on a state highway = $.12 a trip

25 miles on a US highway = $.75 a trip

3 miles on a city street = $.21 a trip

So my trip's toll is $1.54 a trip, magically taken from the GPS readings and accurately reflected to each jurisdiction debited automatically from my checking account, with no oversight or collection labor included. Well, I have to have an always working GPS unit and an internet connection to upload that data to the master database in the sky, and we need that master database that has all of our financial information. What's that? You don't have a checking or savings account? I guess you'll need to prepay, then. And if you aren't paying, who is coming after you to pay your share? So none of those costs are factored in to this simplistic example.

So I have to pay $15 a week, or $60 a month ($720 a year) for the privilege to drive to a job that I had to take because there are no jobs closer to me that pay a salary I want (yes, I choose that).

And to think I pay $2,000 a year in property taxes, $93 a year in gas taxes (assuming $.18/gallon for gas related taxes for 10 gallons a week) and $432 a year in sales taxes (assuming $600 a month in supplies that have sales tax at a 6% rate) to get to ride on just about any road I choose to wherever I want to go, get public safety services, recreation, social services, legislative services, environmental regulations, natural protection, civil defense and more. Will I pay $2,525 a year (or $210 a month) to join this club called the State of Georgia? Some people pay more in HOA dues each month for just their neighborhood and get far less.

In your example where the neighborhoods pay for their roads, did you get to choose your neighbors? How do you know if they are paying? Who is going to enforce that they pay? I don't know about you, but I don't want my neighbors telling me what to do, as that takes away my freedom :)

The point of my story is some form of collectivism is required to function in society. Using economies of scale, instead of having each individual neighborhoods negotiate as islands, we can pick larger geographic entities (I don't know, let's call them cities) to do some of these issues for us. And then for things that affect larger regions, we can have something called, I don't know, counties and metropolitan planning organizations help to grow the region, and then maybe a larger subdivision called the state to help with things we all need in this area.

So while I see your side, I don't agree it's practical, or in your parlance, right. And can it be "natural law" if property rights weren't put into place until the 1600's - nothing universal and natural about that, now is there ;p

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ISDK - Private roads

Fascinating analysis too there ISDK, but why am I not surprised that you find that this solution is not “practical”. After all it’s you that wants someone else to pay for your commute, why would you think anything else? Telling people that they have to pay for your commute using their $4 to $6 dollars, well it’s still stealing isn’t it. Good for you.

A few minor corrections to your analysis though, first I think we live on the same street!! Anyway, let’s see, oh yes! As long as someone owns the home in your neighborhood (the bank for example) they would be obligated simply by owning the property. Secondly, your financial information would not be any more compromised than it is already. It is highly likely that some clever individual would come up with a transaction service to handle all your fee transactions, but that’s a subject for a future post. Finally, all those taxes you mention that you’re paying, well you can subtract those because there wouldn’t be any “transportation” taxes, bureaus, government workers related to roads, etc.

The fact is, just like Mr. Drake, you believe that getting everyone to pay a little isn’t theft; it’s good business. For you good personal business because you don’t pay for your commute and good business for Mr. Drake because government creates worthless projects that he can dump concrete into. Now that’s economies of scale!

You will never see the practicality of an idea that deprives you of letting someone else pay for your obligations. This is the big lie and the big lie told over and over again becomes the truth. Private enterprise is just too impractical and we “need” a collectivist solution. As long as people have their hands in their neighbor’s pockets, they will believe this lie.

As to the concept of private property, it preceded the Glorious Revolution, but the revolution finally gave certain guarantees to individuals that did not exist before it. As I said, Natural Law exists with or without government, it is a lot like gravity. The outgrowth of Natural Law and an extension of it is private property. However, simply because someone occupies lands doesn't automatically make it theirs. Property by definition is the conversion of natural resources through labor, intellect, skill, etc. into something more valuable in free exchange. We can discuss private property in another post if you wish.

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istilldontknow- Over Taxation is stealing!

Taxes are a necessary evil. But misuse and over taxation is stealing. And you continue to use the $4-$6 argument. Whats $4 here and $6 there? I don't want this "project" even if they agreed to pay me $4-$6. Besides I already pay taxes for roads. Why should I pay more when I don't feel that what I've already paid is being used properly? I've referenced the Clean Air Campaign (CAC) before and their efforts to block road development in favor of mass transit. No one seems to have any details on the projects that CAC has blocked or where the money that was allocated to those projects went. Now I'm asked to pay even more for projects that may not even be in my county and that I may not approve of. (Mass Transit) Some here point to the Hwy74- I85 exchange as a project that would help Fayette even though it's in another county. I thought Hwy 74 was a state road? Isn't that the state's responsibility? Why do people think it's up to Fulton County/TSPLOST to fix it?

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G35dude -

"You're asked to pay more for projects that may not even be in my county and I may not approve of."

Hmmm...I think we have agreement that the amount you pay in taxes in Fayette County will come back at nearly 100% to county projects or projects that benefit Fayette County. And if we had voters choose every project that gets funded ever, do you think anything would ever really get done?

"I already pay taxes for roads."

Well, when tax collections go down, the total amount of money to pay for those roads goes down. And the costs for maintaining those roads aren't going down; in fact, they go up. So, yes, you are paying taxes, but you're not paying as much as is apparently needed to make these fixes.

"I thought HWY 74 is a state road? Isn't that the state's responsibility?"

Well, I think that's what the state is asking you to do - this is a STATEWIDE referendum passed by the state legislature and the work will be done in part by GADOT. It just so happens that instead of a small pool of DOT commissioners picking projects to fund, they have given more of a say to the regions and local jurisdictions to say what they wanted that would benefit their regions - the areas they know best.

Hmmmm....MORE LOCAL CONTROL instead of less.

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istilldontknow - Over taxation is still stealing
Quote:

And if we had voters choose every project that gets funded ever, do you think anything would ever really get done?

So I should just vote for things I don't approve of just for the sake of efficiency?

Quote:

"I already pay taxes for roads."

Well, when tax collections go down, the total amount of money to pay for those roads goes down. And the costs for maintaining those roads aren't going down; in fact, they go up. So, yes, you are paying taxes, but you're not paying as much as is apparently needed to make these fixes.

I noticed that you choose to respond to this statement without regard to the sentence that followed.

Quote:

Why should I pay more when I don't feel that what I've already paid is being used properly?

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