Voters in the three regions approved a 10-year, 1-percent sales tax that will start in January. In the meantime, the Department of Transportation is putting the pieces in place to begin the first phase of construction on projects to be completed by 2015.
Projects needing more work, such as engineering or right-of-way acquisition, are scheduled for the later phases. Information about the progress of each phase will be made public periodically.
"We are going to do everything we can to make sure this program is transparent and successful," said Mike Dover, the department's administrator for the tax-funded projects.
He and his staff have spent the weeks since voters approved the tax in the July primaries meeting with local officials to explain the next steps in the process. Local governments can apply to manage projects in their jurisdiction if they can demonstrate experience and capability.
Where the local governments don't run the show, a consulting firm will. Dover said he asked firms last month to submit proposals for the job, and he hopes to have one selected and working by the end of the year.
"We realize that the window is closing very rapidly," he said.
Among other things, the board's resolution details the working relationship with other state agencies like the Department of Revenue that will collect the sales tax and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission that will sell the bonds for the upfront financing to be repaid with the tax.
Board member Brandon Beach wanted to make sure members of the public in those areas know what's going on with their taxes.
"Sounds like you've got all the 'I's dotted and 'T's crossed," he said. "What about a marketing program?"
Dover explained that a marketing firm would supplement information distributed by state and local governments.
By passing the sale tax, those three regions also get a discount on the amount of local funds that must be used in routine transportation projects. Politicians from the regions in the majority of the state where voters rejected the tax have called for blocking the discount or watering it down. That's likely to be a key issue when the General Assembly convenes in January.