Catoosa County commissioners and elected officials from the cities of Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe gathered for a town hall meeting Thursday night, Nov. 29, where they presented an agreement for the proposed transportation sales tax.
Over the past few weeks, discussions and meetings have taken place to map out how a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) would be split between the three governments if approved by voters.
The 1-cent tax, which generates revenue for road and transportation upgrades, will be placed on a referendum and residents will have the opportunity to vote on the matter in March.
“It’s not official yet, but all of us have agreed on a plan, and it will be up to the public,” Commissioner Jim Cutler said.
Thursday’s meeting offered Q&A opportunities for the residents to evaluate what they would be voting on.
Catoosa County Public Works officials, as well as the city managers and some City Council members from both Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe had presentation boards set up chronicling each government’s recent projects and ideas for potential use of the funds.
“This could really help us fix and maintain a lot of our roads,” said Jeremy Bryson, Projects Inspector for Catoosa County. “It’s taking around $350,000 a mile to fix some of these roads that we’re trying to do complete fixes on. With the growth and kind of traffic we’re getting, you can see the before pictures; that’s the shape some of these roads are in.”
Bryson’s presentation boards included recent projects in various stages of the resurfacing process, which gave residents better insight into what and how much it takes to repair roads.
Bryson added that the county has produced three informational videos that’ll be released to better inform the public.
“Were putting out the videos about how we’re evaluating roads and things like that,” Bryson said. “We have over 400 miles that we (the county) have to maintain. Fort Oglethorpe has about 50 miles, and I think Ringgold has close to 30.”
If the TSPLOST is approved, officials project it will bring in roughly $60 million over the course of a five-year cycle.
Of that revenue, the three governments have agreed on a proposal for a 70-percent cut for Catoosa County, and then 20-percent and 10-percent for Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold respectively.
That breakdown would equate to $42 million for Catoosa County, $12 million for Fort Oglethorpe, and $6 million for Ringgold.
The vote on the referendum will take place March 19, and if approved, it would take effect July 1, 2019.
Once implemented, the funds would be collected throughout the county from not only residents but anyone making purchases in Catoosa County.
Of the 159 counties in the state, 81 of those counties currently have a form of TPLOST in place.
“It’s a lot of money that we can do a lot of needed work with,” said Commission Chairman Steven Henry.
Moving forward, the cities of Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe will both vote on the proposed intergovernmental agreement during their next City Council meetings on Dec. 10. After that, commissioners with have the opportunity to approve their end of the agreement during their Dec. 18 meeting.
Thursday’s meeting was more informal than a normal public meeting, but offered residents the chance to talk to officials about the proposal. However, the meeting was lightly attended, with only a handful of voters present during the 1.5-hour session.
Catoosa County Projects Inspector Jeremy Bryson stands near a display of recently completed projects during the TSPLOST town hall meeting Thursday night, Nov. 29.
Thursday’s town hall meeting included displays from Ringgold ( TOP) and Fort Oglethorpe ( BOTTOM).