And I think the best part of the whole process was watching the cities and county work together on the projects list and agreeing that we were all in this one togetherGuyton Mayor Russ Deen
SPRINGFIELD — A one-percent sales tax proposal to fund transportation needs in Effingham County enjoyed a smooth ride at the polls.
In the Nov. 3 general election, voters approved the TSPLOST by a count of 18,017-12,432. The measure, set to go into effect next April, is expected to generate $45 million over five years.
“We truly appreciate the support and vow to be good stewards of this funding,” Effingham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Wesley Corbitt said in a news release. “ Effingham County and its municipalities will move quickly and efficiently to repair and improve our roadways.”
The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the effort to get TSPLOST approved through a series of speeches and an advertising campaign.
“We are grateful to all the elected officials and staff whose efforts, collaboration and support made the referendum possible, particularly County Manager Tim Callanan, Chairman Wesley Corbitt and the county Board of Commissioners,” said Ryan Thompson, chairman of the chamber board. “Thanks also to Rincon City Manager John Klimm, Mayor Ken Lee and city council; Springfield City Manager Matt Morris, Mayor Barton Alderman and city council; and Guyton City Manager Bill Sawyer, Mayor Russ Dean and city council.”
TSPLOST funds will augment Effingham County’s existing resources and will only be spent on transportation improvements.
“It is a relief to know that we will have the funds available to do necessary road projects, necessary drainage projects that have plagued the city for quite some time,” Deen said.
Deen credited chamber officials and government leaders for doing a good job of explaining to voters how TSPLOST works. A proposed region TSPLOST was rejected by Effingham County in 2012.
“And I think the best part of the whole process was watching the cities and county work together on the project lists and agreeing that we were all in this one together,” Deen said. “You hear so much about how the cities and county are out for their own whereas, with this process, it was, ‘What do the citizens need? Who is in the most dire straits as far as roads, drainage, sidewalks — those issues?’ Everyone worked together.
“It was actually enjoyable.”
Deen said Guyton has drainage problems on the east and west sides of town.
“We have already started using SPLOST funds in one of our neighborhoods — Crossgate — prior to TSPLOST passing,” the mayor said. “At the end of the day, we have to take care of our citizens. That’s what it comes down to.
“We are blessed, though, to have SPLOST and TSPLOST now to better facilitate that.”
Other than TSPLOST, the ballot included no local/state contests. All were decided during the primary season. These included Georgia Senate District 4 (Billy Hickman), Georgia House District 159 (Jon Burns), Georgia House District 161 (Bill Hitchens) Ogechee District attorney (Daphne Jarriel Totten), clerk of Superior Court (Jason Bragg), sheriff (Jimmy McDuffie), tax commissioner (Linda McDaniel), coroner (David Exley), Effingham County Board of Commissioners chairman (Wesley Corbitt), Effingham County Commissioner District 1 (Forrest Floyd), Effingham County Commission District 4 (Reggie Loper) and Soil and Water commissioner ( Joseph J. Davis).
In the presidential race, Effingham County picked President Donald Trump over Joe Biden 23,357-7,720.
Local voters preferred Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue over Democrat Jon Ossoff 22,831-7,627. Libertarian Shane Hazel garnered 828 votes.
Perdue and Ossoff will square off again in a Jan. 5, 2021, runoff.
Incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler garnered 12,742 Effingham County voters in a “jungle primary” that featured more than 20 candidates. Fellow Republican Doug Collins received 8,018 local votes.
Loeffler is also headed to a January runoff. She will take on Democrat Raphael Warnock, who gained 4,943 votes in Effingham County.
Republican Congressmen Buddy Carter (District 1) and Rick Allen (District 12) were easily reelected. Both had the backing of more than 75 percent of Effingham County voters.
Effingham County backed the incumbents in the races for the Public Service Commission. Jason Shaw and Bubba McDonald each received 74 percent of the local vote.
Local voters supported both constitutional amendments on the ballot, plus a statewide referendum about providing tax exemptions for vacant lots held by nonprofit organizations. The measures also received statewide approval.
Voter turnout was 71 percent. Effingham County’s record is 78 percent.