- Local News
--By Sheri Gilligan on --
There is no question that transportation needs to be improved in the metro Atlanta area. However, based on the past performance of our politicians and others in charge of taxpayer monies, I question who can you trust? Millions of dollars have been spent and wasted on past projects funded by taxpayer’s hard earned money. Also, laws have been written or changed to favor the privileged few. One also has to question the ethics and motives of those involved in some decisions and projects.
To name some that have taken place over the past few years:
GA 400 toll funds were to be used only for construction and improvements in the 400 corridor. The project was sold to the public that the toll would expire in 2011 when the bonds were retired.
In 2002 Governor Barnes took $10.4 million from toll funds and purchased 6.8 acres at Atlantic Station. A GA DOT appraisal 3 months before the purchase valued the land at $3.7 million, so we paid 3 times the appraised value. Incidentally, one of the developers of Atlantic Station was a major Barnes campaign contributor, supposedly having cash flow problems.
In September, 2010 Governor Perdue extended the toll for 10 years. He did a neat trick by letting the toll expire for a few days, then created a new 10 year extension. A few days ago Governor Deal announced that the toll was being eliminated in December 2013. I find that interesting that he came out with that a few days before the T-SPLOST vote.
Speaking of Governor Perdue, in 2005 he had a law rewritten, enabling him to save $100,000 on real estate taxes for property he purchased in Florida in 2004. Coincidently, the law was made retroactive to 2004.
In December, 2010 the former Governor had the state pay $28.7 million for 10,000 acres in the Oaky Woods land deal for property which was almost 2.5 times the accessed value of $1165 per acre. It just so happens that this property abuts 101 acres owned by Perdue.
In 2009 he also spent $19 million for a Go Fish Georgia project in Perry. It was projected to draw 200,000 visitors per year. During its first year it had only 15,000 visitors. It generated $90,000 and the annual budget is $700,000.
In December 2007, Gena Evans became the Georgia DOT Commissioner. She was probably the best qualified person to ever be in that position with a BS and PhD in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech and numerous prior positions in management and authority. When she started implementing programs to modernize and streamline the DOT, the “good ol boys” rewarded her by firing her in February 2009.
In 2002 the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority opened Fanplex near Turner Field which was going to attract families to play miniature golf and video games. The initial cost to build was $2.5 million. After losing over $500,000 it was shut down in 2004.
Wolf Creek Amphitheater in South Fulton County built by the Fulton County Government costing $6 million is another example. They had a free concert to open with. In early 2012 they had a paying concert and had to cancel a June 2012 concert for lack of ticket sales.
In 1992 the state passed a law (tax) to collect $1.00 for each new tire sold. The money was earmarked to clean up and dispose of used tires. For years the roughly $6 million collected annually has gone into the state’s general fund and the scrap tires keep getting dumped around the state. A bill in the General Assembly this year would have required the state to spend the fees for the intended purpose. The bill was gutted in a Senate committee and failed.
There are many other similar projects at the local, state and national level (think Solyndra), that have squandered taxpayer money and benefitted the chosen ones. If the millions spent on the above few examples is any indication, how can we trust the decision makers to wisely spend the billions of T-SPLOST funds? The landscape is littered with broken promises by politicians who promise one thing, then do another. With the uncertainty of the cost of Obamacare; the uncertainty of when the economy will improve; the uncertainty of how much Georgia Power Company’s Plant Vogtle overruns will be- – and a PSC that has rarely seen a rate increase they didn’t love- – now is NOT the time to be adding another tax increase. Therefore, I cast my vote NO to the T-SPLOST and encourage others to do likewise.