Voters in five Georgia counties decided on Tuesday, November 7, whether to introduce or expand a transportation tax to cover local infrastructure improvements.
The transportation sales tax referendum on ballots in Baldwin, Barrow, Dougherty, Effingham and Walker counties authorizes or maintains a 1 percent tax for transportation purposes only. The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax can be used for purposes such as roads, bridges, public transportation, and seaports.
Georgia law requires that at least 30% of sales tax revenue be used for projects consistent with the state’s strategic transportation plan.
Transport tax background
There are several types of transportation sales taxes in the state of Georgia. The first is a regional tax. The second is a single-county tax. There are two additional transportation sales taxes in the Atlanta and Fulton areas.
Atlanta and Fulton area taxes and single county tax apply in full to motor vehicle transactions. Regional tax levies only apply to the first $5,000 of a motor vehicle transaction.
According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, 105 of the state’s 159 counties had implemented a transportation sales tax before Election Day.
Sales taxes do not apply to fuel purchases.
Voters in Baldwin County approved a proposal to increase the local sales tax by 1%, from 7% to 8%. It is estimated that this transportation tax increase will raise $45 million over five years.
Transportation tax revenue in the county, located northeast of Macon, is split between the county and the city of Milledgeville. The county will receive 65% of the net proceeds and the city of Milledgeville will receive 35%.
The use of revenue will be limited to transportation purposes such as roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvements.
Collection of the tax will begin in spring 2024 and end in 2029, at which point voters could decide to extend the tax for another five years.
The last statewide vote on sales tax on transit options was in 2018. At that time, voters rejected the additional tax by a margin of 53% to 47%.
A transportation tax question passed by Barrow County voters will add the penny tax.
As a result, the town northeast of Atlanta will increase its local tax from 7% to 8% for roads and highways. The tax hike is estimated to raise $130 million over five years.
County projects will receive 72% of tax revenue during that period, or $94.2 million. The county’s six cities will split the rest, with the city of Winder receiving the largest amount – $18.6 million.
Winder Mayor David Maynard said before Election Day that the local tax was an important step toward improving transportation infrastructure.
“Introducing a transport sales tax is not just a financial decision; It is a commitment to the future and to improving our roads,” Maynard said in previous remarks.
Dougherty County voters approved a motion to continue supporting transportation projects.
The vote in southwest Georgia County asked voters whether they should renew the local penny sales tax and maintain the 8% tax rate for road work.
The transportation tax, in effect since July 2019, is expected to raise an estimated $80 million by next summer. The city of Albany receives 67% of tax revenue annually, or $53.6 million, and the county receives 33%, or $26.4 million.
The funds will primarily be used for road improvement projects. The money will also be used for intersection improvements, paving and resurfacing, road marking, traffic calming and other road projects.
A transportation tax question approved in Effingham County allows a 1-cent sales tax to be maintained in the county and the cities of Guyton, Rincon and Springfield.
The tax is estimated to raise $120 million over five years. The county will keep half, an estimated $60 million, over that period.
Revenue generated would benefit projects including road resurfacing, intersection improvements, maintenance and safety.
Advocates said the revenue source is important to address population growth expected to continue in the region north of Savannah.
Walker County voters overwhelmingly approved a question supporting transportation work.
A question about imposing a 1% transportation tax was asked on the ballot in northeastern Georgia County, which borders the states of Alabama and Tennessee.
The county previously collected the tax from 2018 to 2022. Voters rejected continuing the tax before last year’s expiration date.
Passing the issue to increase the local sales tax rate from 7% to 8% is estimated to raise $45 million over five years. Proceeds are used to repair and renew roads, bridges and sidewalks.
Walker County receives 75%, or $6.75 million annually. The county’s five cities receive the remaining 25%, or $2.25 million annually. LL