Northwest Georgia counties and municipalities have taken the first steps toward implementing much-needed regional and local transportation projects with a potential 1 percent regional sales tax. Yesterday, members of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Roundtable collaborated in Calhoun, completing several important administrative tasks that pave the way for selecting a list of transportation improvements to put before the region’s electorate in 2012. The Northwest Georgia Roundtable is one of 12 such bodies created by Georgia House Bill 277 – the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (TIA 2010). All 12 Roundtables (whose boundaries coincide with those of existing Regional Commissions) will soon follow with their own efforts, including ARC. ARC is monitoring the efforts of adjacent Regional Commissions so that opportunities to leverage transportation investments across regions can be identified as the ARC Roundtable undertakes the same planning effort over the next year.
Elections were held at the December 1st meeting to select the Roundtable Executive Committee, which is responsible for condensing a large, financially unconstrained transportation project list provided by the State Planning Director into a smaller, financially constrained list of improvements that can be delivered within the timeframe of a 10-year 1 percent sales tax. The constrained list will then be voted on by the whole Roundtable. If approved, the region’s voters then will decide in 2012 whether or not to approve the 1 percent sales tax to build the projects. It is estimated that more than $120 million per year would be raised for projects annually over the 10-year span.
The Northwest Georgia Roundtable decided to choose Executive Committee members from smaller ‘subregions’ which share geography and general policy concerns. These subregions are listed below, with the committee member in parentheses:
- Dade, Catoosa & Walker (Keith Greene, Catoosa County)
- Whitfield, Murray & Gordon (Mike Babb, Whitfield County)
- Fannin, Gilmer & Pickens (Al Holye, City of Ellijay)
- Chattooga, Bartow & Floyd (Clarence Brown, Bartow County)
- Paulding , Haralson & Polk (William “Pete” Bridges, City of Tallapoosa)
In addition to selecting an Executive Committee, the Roundtable elected Paulding County Commissioner David Austin as their Chairperson, who will facilitate future Roundtable activities. Other accomplishments include approving guidelines for how the Roundtable will conduct its business and approving a set of project selection criteria.
With these preliminary business items out of the way, the Northwest Georgia Regional Transportation Roundtable will be ready to begin the process of developing a list of transportation projects for eventual voter approval. For more information on the TIA 2010 process, visit the IT3 website at http://www.it3.ga.gov/pages/legislation.aspx#DraftCriteria