Walker County Election Day on Tuesday


As Election Day approaches on Tuesday, November 7, residents in Walker County are gearing up to make critical decisions in their local communities. This year’s ballot includes not only municipal races in the cities of Chickamauga and LaFayette but also a crucial Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) referendum.

The TSPLOST referendum, a one-percent sales tax dedicated to road maintenance and improvements, is poised to make a return to Walker County. This tax, distinct from other special purpose sales taxes in Georgia, can exclusively fund transportation projects and must be kept in a separate account for auditing purposes, with detailed expenses published annually.

In Walker County, TSPLOST dollars would be directed towards the long-overdue repair of local roads. The county boasts over 900 roads, with some still composed of dirt or gravel surfaces, all of which are eligible for maintenance through the TSPLOST funds.

If the TSPLOST is restored, it would generate approximately $9 million annually for road paving and transportation projects. The distribution of these funds would be as follows:

  • Walker County: 75%, equating to $6,750,000 annually
  • LaFayette: 11.50%, amounting to $1,035,000 annually
  • Rossville: 6.14%, totaling $552,600 annually
  • Chickamauga: 4.46%, reaching $401,400 annually
  • Lookout Mountain: 2.50%, summing up to $225,000 annually
  • Fort Oglethorpe: 0.40%, or $36,000 annually

Notably, Walker County does not factor substantial funding for road improvements into its millage rate. Instead, the Board of Commissioners frequently reduces the County M&O millage rate and uses new revenue from growth to lessen the burden on property owners. If the county relied on the millage rate for road improvements, it would require a substantial 4.72-mill increase to match the revenue generated by a one-percent TSPLOST.

An essential aspect of TSPLOST is that it’s paid not only by residents but also by visitors, making it a collective effort to improve the local roads. Anyone who visits Walker County, whether for tourism at Rock City, McLemore, the Honeybee Festival, a Walker Rocks adventure, or local high school and sporting events, contributes to funding road improvements.

The November 7 ballot question asks: “Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in the special district consisting of Walker County for a period of time not to exceed five (5) years and for the raising of an estimated amount of $45,000,000 for transportation purposes?”

A “yes” vote would authorize a new TSPLOST starting on April 1, 2024, with resurfacing projects set to resume in late 2024. The county aims to resurface more than 35 miles of roads annually using TSPLOST funds.

The initial TSPLOST, active from April 1, 2018, until September 30, 2022, generated around $25 million for road improvements, allowing the resurfacing of 118.51 miles of roads. To further this effort, the county is investing $6 million from the 2020 SPLOST and its portion of state LMIG funds this year to resurface 34.26 miles, bringing the total miles resurfaced since 2018 to 152.77.

With 674 miles of roads in unincorporated Walker County, the remaining 521 miles represent 77.33% of roads yet to be addressed, emphasizing the critical need for the TSPLOST to be restored and funding to continue road maintenance and improvement efforts.

On November 7, Walker County residents will have the opportunity to decide the fate of this essential referendum, determining the future of their local roads and transportation infrastructure. Make your voice heard and participate in this important election by casting your vote at the designated polling locations from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. Your vote can shape the path of Walker County’s transportation development.