The transportation special purpose local option sales tax, or T-SPLOST, has been in effect since January 1st. Voters may have approved the money, but will it be enough to cover the costs when it comes to our roads?
The Department of Transportation says that several T-SPLOST projects will begin construction in the next 30 to 45 days. Over the next ten years, the penny tax is projected to bring $841 million to the region. However, as we found out... tax collections are lower than projected.
For a little more than three months, consumers in the CSRA have been paying an extra penny on the dollar for the things they buy. The sales tax is supposed to fund several transportation projects across the area. But the Department of Transportation says T-SPLOST revenue is 20% lower than projected.
"I think there are a lot of things that can be contributed to that. Such as the bad weather, such as the people that really in business that did not register with the state in order to collect that one cent, the extra penny... And by doing so, they have not reported it," says DOT District 12 Board Member Don Grantham.
DOT Board Member Don Grantham says the current data is through the month of February. He says DOT based their projections on what the region normally collected on sales taxes.
T-SPLOST opponents feared that revenue would be lower than projected. And with three phases of T-SPLOST projects planned over the next ten years, they questioned what would happen to those projects slated for phase three.
But Grantham says the law has a backup plan built into in case the actual money collected is lower than estimations.
"You would scale down the projects to a point where they are affordable. Just because they are in phase three, does not say they will not be started or completed," he says.
Grantham says that numbers are also down for the other two regions that passed T-SPLOST, however, he says the numbers don't concern him at this time.
"From the stand point that we are only looking at two months. We're not into the spring, we're not into the seasonal time of the year of spending, doing things of that nature," he says.
Grantham says we could start seeing paving and other small roadway projects start very soon. Sales tax revenue seems to be down overall in the area. Augusta officials say tax receipts were about 5% lower than February 2012.
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