The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce is getting some help in its support of Georgia’s proposed special purpose local option sales tax for transportation (T-SPLOST). The Savannah Board of Realtors presented a $2,000 check Tuesday toward regional marketing efforts for T-SPLOST.
The funds are part of an $11,000 contribution the Effingham Chamber is making to Connect Georgia, a campaign organization encouraging Georgians to vote in favor of the one-cent sales tax for road improvements that will be on the July 31 ballot.
“I absolutely believe that the T-SPLOST, if we can get it passed, will be the big engine driving Effingham’s future growth into at least the next 15 to 20 years,” said Effingham County Chamber of Commerce Director Rick Lott.
“Georgia is facing a transportation funding crisis that, if allowed to continue, will result in significant losses in jobs and economic development opportunities across the state,” said Bill Boatman, president of the Georgia Association of Realtors. “Investing in critical transportation infrastructure projects equals more economic opportunity and a better quality of life for Georgia.”
State Department of Transportation officials estimate the penny sales tax would generate $18.6 billion statewide over 10 years, including $1.6 billion in the coastal region made up of Effingham and nine other counties.
Each of 12 regions in the state will vote individually whether to approve the one-cent tax. If a region adopts the tax, it will keep all the money it collects to use for road projects in that region.
The projects that would be funded in each region have already been determined. The coastal region project list includes five that are expected to impact Effingham County — four phases of the Effingham Parkway, designed to alleviate congestion along Highway 21, and the interchange at Interstate 16 and Old River Road.
“Especially in the southern part of the county, you know what the traffic is like on a daily basis for all those folks that commute every day back and forth. It just gets worse and worse, largely because of the truck traffic, and that isn’t going to get any better,” Lott said.
Lott described the T-SPLOST as “just as important for Effingham’s growth as the (Savannah) harbor deepening.”
“I think the result of those two things happening at the same time is that we’re going to see, over the next five or 10 years, another spurt of growth,” he said. “If you imagine the whole stretch between Garden City and Effingham County, I think the two of those things are just going to fill that corridor up with all kinds of operations that are going to directly benefit Effingham County.”