Residents will get to decide whether or not to approve the TSPLOST in July. (WRDW-TV / May 30, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, July 16, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- The Georgia primary is only two weeks away and already nearly 1,000 Columbia County voters have cast their ballot for advanced voting.
"Our opinion counts and this is the way to get it out there. The majority rules, so it's important to do it," said voter Donna Wiley.
And support is mixed for one of the hottest topics, the regional vote for a new 1 percent transportation sales tax, or TSPLOST.
"I mean, I think it's a good thing," Wiley said.
"I voted against the TSPLOST issue because it's an unnecessary tax," argued voter Nathan Youngblood.
Some critics say the wording of the referendum is misleading. It says a "yes" vote provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.
"It's rather confusing and misleading the way that they advertise it," said Evans voter Steven Shelt.
"Do you think that was misleading at all?" asked News 12's Katie Beasley.
"I don't, because I just listened a lot before I went in and that way the wording wasn't something that tripped me up," Wiley said.
"I plan to vote no on it," Shelt said.
Youngblood says for him, the TSPLOST is not smart business.
"We've been badgered, beaten, it's been a very down economy for home builders, so that extra 1 percent for me is the little bit of profit I would make," he explained.
"They're trying to tell me that it's going to create jobs and if it does create jobs, it will be temporary jobs, it won't be full-time jobs," Shelt said.
But other voters say the list of road projects will help the area, like the extension of Riverwatch Parkway, to name just one of the hundreds on the list.
"There are so many of them that are incomplete that need to be finished," Wiley said.
And only time will tell if this region believes those projects are worth their money.
"Especially in the Evans area; I believe that the citizens are going to vote 'no' because they don't want additional taxes," Shelt said.
There are other big local races in Columbia County. There are two contested commission races for Districts 2 and 3, there are two Board of Education seats up for grabs in Districts 1 and 4 and a heated Chief Magistrate Judge contest between three area attorneys.