T-SPLOST, the 1 percent, statewide transportation special local option sales tax Georgia and local officials lobbied heavily for, was defeated soundly in July, with all but three regions of the state voting against it. In metro Atlanta, 62.3 percent of voters in a 10-county area rejected the proposed tax, which would have paid for $8.5 billion in metro highway and mass transit projects.
In Sandy Springs, T-SPLOST would have provided $450 million for improvements to the Interstate 285-Ga. 400 interchange. With the tax defeated, in October the Sandy Springs City Council, working with other cities to use existing money to improve the interchange, voted to support a resolution the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts took to Gov. Nathan Deal.
In both the primary and general elections, incumbents led the way. Only one current official, District 6 State Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, lost. Stoner, whose district was redrawn by Republicans in 2011 to now include parts of GOP-heavy Buckhead and Sandy Springs (it already included Vinings), was defeated by Republican Hunter Hill in November. All other incumbents won, including President Barack Obama, even though he lost Georgia to Republican Mitt Romney.
The race drew 399.237 voters (70.39 percent) in Fulton County and 311,245 (74.9 percent) in Cobb. Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a rabbis’ convention in Sandy Springs in May.
City center plans
Beginning in May, the city of Sandy Springs and Boston-based planning firm Goody Clancy co-hosted a series of meetings on the city center plan, which would shape how Sandy Springs’ redeveloped heart would look. In November, the Sandy Springs City Council was presented with the final plan, and it was approved by the council last week.
The Fulton County Registration and Elections Department had a rough year. During the July 31 primary, it was slow to report election results. The next month, then-Director Samuel Westmoreland apologized to the county commission for the county’s problems. They included having 700 voters, including 343 from one Sandy Springs precinct, having their ballots allocated to the wrong state Senate seat election and a recount in the Fulton sheriff’s race where 15 extra votes were found but did not change the outcome. In September, Westmoreland resigned after being arrested for DUI. The county was criticized by the Secretary of State’s office for having voters wait hours to cast ballots and even longer to get provisional ballots during the general election in November. Late last month the secretary’s office issued two letters of instruction, or official warnings, to the department for problems it had during the 2010 elections, and more punishments could be coming.
An ongoing legal issue with the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology’s request to rezone its Sandy Springs property to allow for more parking finally came to a head in 2012. After the city council voted in June to defer its decision until the following month, it voted 5-1 to approve the church’s application. The decision also settled a federal lawsuit filed by the church against the city following a 2009 vote against the church’s zoning application.