Recently, many residents of Forsyth County have received a mailer concerning the $200 million Forsyth County Transportation Bond. The giant glossy postcard begins by claiming that we “…can keep our money in Forsyth and begin road projects as soon as next year.” That sounds good, right? But what are the facts behind the slick marketing campaign? Are impressive graphics, “happy talk,” a $200 million debt enough to solve the traffic problems of Forsyth County? Every time citizens approve a bond referendum, they are signing a blank check and trusting the government to do the right thing.
The mailer states that, “Unless we pass the Forsyth Transportation Bond, our money will be given to Atlanta and other parts of the state instead of invested locally to address our traffic congestion that continues to gridlock our community.” In addition, there is a bullet point that states, “Funds Matched Dollar-For-Dollar.” These are, perhaps, the most egregiously disingenuous statements of all. The fact of the matter is that the tax money from Forsyth County IS ALREADY being given to fund road projects in Atlanta and other parts of the state. The bottom line is that if this bond passes, we will be taxed twice and to add insult on top of injury, we will probably have to raise taxes to cover the cost.
In addition, while there is the promise that funds will be matched with state and federal dollars, this is NOT a guarantee — and let’s not forget that these are dollars which we are already owed because they have been collected previously in fuel and other transportation taxes. The citizens will be obligated to a bond that will cost us $200 million, while the state and the federal governments might contribute $93 million; an amount that does not meet the “dollar-for-dollar” standard that is touted in by the authors of the mailer. (Perhaps they’re using Common Core math.) In fact, several years ago, Forsyth County signed a contract with the state of Georgia in which the state “guaranteed” state funds. It remains an unfulfilled promise reminiscent of, “…if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
The county government WILL NOT be obligated to complete the projects listed on the mailer – a veritable “wish list” of road projects for anyone who has to deal with a daily commute from Forsyth County. The implication is that if this bond is passed, the projects will be completed immediately without a multiple year wait – “…next year [yes, bolded on the flyer], instead of the 10-20 year timeline.” It is a “siren song” that is meant to tempt the voters and convince them that they can have their wish today – instant gratification without any cost. It has been difficult, however, to get the Commissioners to commit to any of the listed projects for certain. They will only say that they are “a priority.” The only thing this bond WILL do, for certain, is create a major debt obligation on the citizens of Forsyth County; and if the revenues to cover the bonds do not come in, then the government has the unlimited authority to raise taxes to meet the bond obligation.
Write the editors of our local publications and tell everyone you know, this is NOT a good deal for the taxpayers of Forsyth County! Time is short and we must vote against increasing our debt burden with NO guarantee of results or accountability should those results fail to materialize.