The meeting at the South Cobb Community Center was set up to prepare voters to make a decision to approve a potential 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax. The vote for the tax, which would start in 2016, would be Nov. 4.
Jim Pehrson, the county’s finance director, estimates a six-year SPLOST would collect $750 million. Cupid said her district would collect about $80 to $100 million during the six-year SPLOST.
Cupid said one of her top priorities for SPLOST funding would be to install sidewalks along highly traveled roads.
One of those roads, said Bill Teasley, an engineer who lives in Mableton, should be Mableton Highway.
“A lot of people live along there and walk along there,” Teasley said. “It would be safer.”
While Cupid said she could achieve her constituent’s goals for more sidewalks with the $5 million set aside for her district, she said she “didn’t even ask for enough.”
Another widely discussed issue Wednesday was the future of funds set aside for road improvements that would help the county apply for grant money to fund a bus rapid transit system.
“The BRT has been an ongoing topic of conversation for residents in my district and outside the district,” Cupid said.
The initial SPLOST draft list included a $100 million line item for Chairman Tim Lee’s proposed half-billion BRT project. The amount was revised to $78 million before Lee announced this week he had moved the BRT line item down to “Tier 2,” where the earmark for the transit line now stands at $72.5 million, according to county spokesman Robert Quigley.
Tier 2 projects are different from Tier 1 because they will only be done if there is extra money collected in the SPLOST, Cupid said.
But the movement of the money was deceptive, said Lance Lamberton, chairman of the Cobb Taxpayers Association and a member of the county’s SPLOST Oversight Committee.
“They made the Tier 1 amount low enough, so that they’re definitely going to use the Tier 2 projects,” Lamberton said.
“Just the way this thing is structured is not specific and there’s a lot of wasteful spending.”
Cupid said she doesn’t disagree with residents who told her Thursday night that the funding of improvement projects for the bus rapid transit system was deceptive.
“This is an improvement in just one corridor. How are people going to get to that corridor?” Cupid asked.
“There’s some sentiment here tonight if this is based on need and not on opportunity.”
The funding transfers between tiers is confusing, said Mableton retiree Ed Higginbotham.
“I’m on the fence with the SPLOST to begin with,” Higginbotham said. “And most of the people in this district are against the BRT.”
Cupid said she would support the BRT if it were implemented county-wide.
“I think we have an economic opportunity here,” Cupid said. “I’m talking about getting to work, going to school, going to the grocery store, just basic needs.”