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Penny tax may mean $200M boost
Roadway improvement plans will rely on vote in 2012
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Bulloch County stands to be a major beneficiary of a regional one-cent sales tax to raise monies for transportation projects, if the revenue-generating levy passes next year.
    Members of a regional roundtable tasked with appropriating funds agreed Wednesday that most of the collected capital should be distributed according to population data.
    With its more than 70,000 residents, Bulloch ranks third among the region’s ten counties — Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven — in population.
    Because it is home to more than ten percent of the region’s residents, behind only Chatham (40 percent) and Glynn (12 percent), Bulloch County can expect to receive a large share TSPLOST funds to pay for major infrastructural projects.
    “The total impact on Bulloch County will be in excess of $200 million,” said Allen Burns, Executive Director of Georgia’s Coastal Regional Commission. “Not bad for a penny.”
    According to Burns, Bulloch can expect to garner about $130 million of an estimated $1.2 billion for approved transportation-related projects throughout the region — mostly roadway improvements.
    An additional 25 percent of tax revenue — an estimated $402 million — will be disbursed to counties based mostly on road miles within their borders. 
    Bulloch County will receive approximately $79 million over a ten-year span per that distribution method, he said — second only to Chatham County.
    The regional body’s executive committee, during Wednesday’s meeting in Richmond Hill, approved an almost-final list of projects to be paid for with potential tax monies.
    The list of Bulloch County ventures, which according to Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch will almost certainly be approved, include: the widening of State Route 67 from Statesboro to I-16 at an estimated cost of $101,660,000; completion of a north-end to Statesboro’s Veteran’s Memorial Bypass for a projected $25 million; and $500,000 for improvements related to bicycle and pedestrian safety along Highway 301 South.
    The region-wide project list will be sent to the Georgia Department of Transportation for review to see if any projects will be granted state or federal dollars — if any are, more TSPLOST monies would be available to pay for additional projects, said Burns.
    The executive committee is scheduled to meet and finalize the project list August 3, before the whole regional roundtable meets to grant final approval August 15, he said.
    Citizens will vote on the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (Georgia D.O.T. House Bill 277) in the summer of 2012, said Burns.
     Both City and County leaders have expressed support for tax.
    “I hope this bill passes to give us the funds that are needed to expand our transportation abilities in the county and city,” said Statesboro Mayor Joe Brannen, a member of the regional roundtable. “Bulloch County should fare pretty well if the act is passed.”

Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454.

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