Voters will decide November 7 if they want everyone who visits Walker County to chip in to make improvements to local roads. The public will be asked to restore the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), a one-percent sales tax that is dedicated to road maintenance and improvements.
Unlike other special purpose sales taxes in Georgia, TSPLOST can only be used on transportation projects. In fact, state law mandates that TSPLOST dollars be kept in a separate account away from other funds for auditing purposes and a detailed list of expenses be published once a year. While “transportation purposes” has a wide ranging definition, in Walker County, it means repairing roads that have been in need of attention for years.
Did you know there are over 900 roads in unincorporated Walker County, and some are still dirt or gravel roads? We invite you to view the list of roads. The 850 or so roads that haven’t been touched in years are all eligible to receive maintenance using TSPLOST funds.
Restoring the TSPLOST would generate about $9 million a year for paving and transportation projects.
- Walker County would receive 75% or $6,750,000 million annually
- LaFayette would receive 11.50% or $1,035,000 million annually
- Rossville would receive 6.14% or $552,600 annually
- Chickamauga would receive 4.46% or $401,400 annually
- Lookout Mountain would receive 2.50% or $225,000 annually
- Fort Oglethorpe would receive 0.40% or $36,000 annually
The county does not factor significant funding for road improvements into its millage rate. The Board of Commissioners regularly rolls back the millage rate and uses new revenue from growth to lessen the burden on property owners. If the county were to use the millage rate to pay for road improvements, it would take an increase of 4.72 mills to create the same amount of revenue as a one-percent TSPLOST.
Sales tax is paid by visitors, in addition to residents. So, everyone who visits Rock City, McLemore or spends money while in the county for the Honeybee Festival, a Walker Rocks adventure or a local high school or sporting event, helps fund road improvements, instead of just property owners.
On November 7, voters will be asked to authorize a new Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST).
The ballot question will look like this:
Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in the special district consisting of Walker County for a period of time not to exceed five (5) years and for the raising of an estimated amount of $45,000,000 for transportation purposes?
A vote “yes” would authorize a new TSPLOST that would begin on April 1, 2024, providing an opportunity to resume resurfacing projects in late 2024. The county has set a goal of resurfacing 35+ miles of roads annually with TSPLOST funds.
The first TSPLOST ran from April 1, 2018 until September 30, 2022 and generated about $25 million for road improvements. In fact, the county was able to resurface 118.51 miles of roads thanks to the voter approved TSPLOST. The county is investing $6 million from the 2020 SPLOST and its LMIG funds this year to resurface 34.26 miles. This will bring the number of miles resurfaced since 2018 to 152.77 miles.
There are 674 miles of roads in unincorporated Walker County, which excludes city roads. If you do the math, that works out to only 22.67% of all county roads receiving attention, still leaving 521 miles or 77.33% to be addressed.