Tramell supports T-SPLOST, but needs benefit to West Point

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

WEST POINT — West Point Mayor Steve Tramell is in support of a potential tax to provide for public transportation throughout the county, but he needs proof that it would be beneficial to West Point — not just LaGrange.

“I would like it to happen, but I need to be assured it will benefit West Point,” he said. “We have people who need to get to work and shop and get to the doctor.”

Tramell is referring to a potential 1 percent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST). The tax was discussed in late March by the LaGrange City Council during its retreat. LaGrange officials said the city has heard several requests to provide public transportation and improve major roads.

Tramell said a transit bus to run through the housing authority in West Point to take people to doctor appointments, grocery stores and to work would be beneficial for the community. It would also be necessary for transportation to Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.

“I think it would be great for the community, but I have to see the county commissioners on board — otherwise it is going to be a LaGrange issue,” Tramell said. “They have a bigger need than we do, but we need some things, too.”

He said he would need to see proof that it would be worth it to West Point to support a potential tax.

Patrick Crews, Troup County Board of Commissioners chairman, said there’s been some discussion about a T-SPLOST between mayors in Troup County and the commission.

He said there will most likely be a meeting in May between all mayors and city managers in the county to talk about possible projects to be funded by a tax.

“The commissioners need to know what projects they want and if they are worth it,” Crews said.

Crews also mentioned the idea of a regional tax, but either way, he said it would have to go through Troup County voters before anything gets started. He said the county is the entity that would initiate any action about a tax. The tax would also have to be approved by voters in the November election.

Crews said he’s a proponent of T-SPLOST funds.

“I believe at the end of the day, it allows the voters to choose what they want to do,” he said. “It is our job of elected officials to come up with the needs and purpose for the tax and explain it voters, and they can decide if that is what they want to do.”

If approved, the LaGrange City Council said it would generate an estimated $60 million throughout a 5-year period.

Several years ago, Troup County residents had an opportunity to vote on a T-SPLOST proposal for a 10-county region of the state, but rejected it. LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said that proposal focused on a larger area, but any new plan would be centered on a smaller area.

T-SPLOST funds can be used to cover transportation operations as well as capital investments. However, 30 percent of the funds would be required to be committed to match GDOT projects.