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Callanan updates Exchange Club on traffic, TSPLOST projects
Tim Callanan at Exchange Club
Effingham County Manager Tim Callanan addressed the Exchange Club on Aug. 9 regarding the county’s growth, and plans for the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax initiative that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot. (Photos by Barbara Augsdorfer/Effingham Herald.)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

Effingham County Manager Tim Callanan was the guest speaker at the Exchange Club Aug. 9 at its meeting held at the county recreation building on Hwy. 119 in Springfield.

He updated the gathering regarding the county’s growth and how the county is working to manage growth and road capacity during commute times.

Callanan noted, not surprisingly, that much of Effingham County’s recent new residents come from Chatham County. But problems on the roads arise when commuters all travel in the same direction at the same time of day.

“We're picking up 1,200 folks moving from Chatham to Effingham every year. And that's substantial,” Callanan said. “I looked at the surrounding counties to see if it was a similar situation. I think a lot of it has to do with the schools and the recreation and the safety and so on.

“We have plenty of road capacity,” Callanan added. “We just don't have plenty of road capacity during certain times of the day going in certain directions.”

He used Gulfstream as an example where many employees work Monday through Thursday, so there’s less traffic going from Effingham County to Gulfstream just over the border in Chatham that one day a week.

“You can kind of get an idea of what one industry affects your infrastructure and traffic every year,” Callanan said. “With the Hyundai news and a lot of these jobs you’re starting to see get created in Effingham County, it disrupts that traffic pattern of all going to one location.”

He also added that jobs being created within the county would, of course, mean that more people would live and work within Effingham County – for example, staying in Rincon to work at the Sewon plant when it opens.

In addition to creating jobs within the county and shorter commutes, Callanan said the Board of Commissioners has made road maintenance and increased vehicle capacity a priority to keep pace with the county’s growth.

The county’s first Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) referendum was approved by the voters in 2020 and began collection in April 2021. It’s a one-cent sales tax paid by everyone who purchases taxable goods and services in the county. According to the county website, an estimated 24-35% of the funds come from sales of natural gas to utilities located in the county generating power for households in and outside the county.

The county’s growth accelerated collection.

“We ended up collecting the money a little bit quicker than we had anticipated -- just showing changes in some of the buying patterns in the county,” Callanan reported. “We got all of our repaving done with the exception of two roads within two and a half years.”

Moving forward, Callanan said the county is planning to begin construction on the first of five roundabouts.

“The most difficult one to install, (is) always your first one because everyone's not used to them,” Callanan said. “But once you get used to them, they're like ‘We need these all over the place.’ And so that's kind of what we're hearing.”

He added that most of the planned roundabouts are near schools.

Eva Goldwire
Eva Goldwire was welcomed to the Exchange Club as its newest member at its meeting on Aug. 9.
“Probably three or four years from now we’ll probably have a dozen (roundabouts) throughout the county,” Callanan said.

Generally, a SPLOST referendum is approved for “a period to not exceed five years” or “until all funds are collected.” The TSPLOST approved in 2020 set a benchmark of $45 million and was set to expire in 2024. So, to keep TSPLOST in effect, it has to go before the voters in 2023.

Not only did Effingham County collect the estimated TSPLOST funds sooner than expected, it collected more than expected, according to Callanan.

“The benefit of the tax collections, which predominantly is from the natural gas sales to our two power plants that we have here. So we benefit substantially from them,” Callanan continued. “Four years ago, we predicted that over five year period of time we’d collect $45 million. This one we're predicting we will collect about $120 million.”

He explained the funds are shared with the cities based on population and the county will retain about 75%. “So we can do some serious work on catching up on the maintenance on a lot of our roads. And this involves paving roads that have never been paved.”

He added that the county has graded all its roads and the goal is to get all county roads graded as “good” or better, and maintain them from there, rather than letting them get to “failing” and having to spend three times as much money to completely replace them.

More information about TSPLOST in Effingham County can be seen at