Rockdale resident and T-SPLOST opponent Clement Brown, right, and a man who demonstrated in favor of T-SPLOST agree to disagree at the corner of Main Street and Milstead Avenue Tuesday morning. The T-SPLOST proponent declined to give his name. About 25 T-SPLOST opponents representing various political and civic groups participated in the rally in front of the Rockale County Assembly Hall.
CONYERS -- Activists on both sides of the T-SPLOST issue took up positions on the sidewalk in front of the Rockdale County Assembly Hall on Main Street Tuesday morning to bring their message to the public.
Josie Dean, organizer of the Rockdale Think Tank, spearheaded the protest effort against the T-SPLOST referendum that will be on the July 31 ballot. Advocates for T-SPLOST from DeKalb County responded by showing up to share their support of the referendum that will impose a 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects.
The Rockdale Republican Party sent out an email Tuesday morning objecting to the fact that the DeKalb County group had arrived to demonstrate without a permit from the city. While the T-SPLOST opponents had obtained a permit to assemble, Conyers Chief Operating Officer David Spann said a city permit was not needed by either group as long as those demonstrating did not block ingress, egress, roads or sidewalks or create a substantial public safety issue.
Despite the permit dispute, T-SPLOST opponent Clement Brown said that the event went well, with about 25 people there to oppose T-SPLOST.
"We had people wave to us and say 'thank-you,'" said Brown, a former high school government teacher. "There was a great mixture in our groups of white, black, old, young. We got along just fine and said a prayer at the end and went home."
In addition to the Rockdale Think Tank, groups represented in the protest included the South Rockdale Civic Association, the DeKalb County chapter of the NAACP, and Unhappy Taxpayers and Voters of DeKalb County.
State economists predict that the T-SPLOST will generate $6.14 billion in the Atlanta Region -- which consists of Rockdale, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry counties and the city of Atlanta -- over the 10 years of the tax. Rockdale County is expected to generate $104 million in tax revenue and is slated to receive $94.3 million in road projects, making Rockdale what some would call a "donor county."
Projects on the T-SPLOST list for Rockdale are: extending Sigman Road to Hayden Quarry Road in DeKalb County; widening Sigman Road from two to four lanes between Lester Road and Dogwood Drive; constructing a non-access bridge over I-20; and widening Flat Shoals Road to four lanes between Salem and Old Salem roads.
Proponents of the T-SPLOST argue that regional projects outside a county's borders still benefit residents of that county. They point out that improvements are slated at four interstate interchanges -- Spaghetti Junction, I-75/I-85, I-285/Ga. 400 and I-285/I-20 -- which will improve traffic coming in and out of Atlanta.