Fulton County’s mayors and commissioners have reached an agreement on a plan to help those fed up with traffic.
They will ask residents to vote for a 0.75 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects including road and bridge improvements.
The Georgia General Assembly passed a bill this session to allow Fulton County outside Atlanta to vote on a transportation special purpose local option sales tax referendum in November.
The bill also allows Atlanta residents to vote on a .5 percent sales tax to fund MARTA projects within city limits.
County officials estimate the referenda, if passed, could bring in about $300 million for Atlanta and between $500 million and $600 million for the rest of Fulton County between 2017 and 2022.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to proudly proclaim that today is VF Day, which means victory in Fulton County day,” said county commission Chairman John Eaves.
Speaking at a March 31 conference of the mayors and commissioners, Eaves said the efforts of the leaders as well as staff and MARTA officials had resulted in a “win-win situation” for the county.
The next step for the city governments will be to approve lists of projects they would like to see implemented with the funds.
Fulton County Chief Operations Officer Todd Long said he has been in contact with the cities about their lists, which he said were making progress.
“Those lists have come a long way,” he said. “A lot of resurfacing, a lot of intersection improvements, a lot of public safety-type functions that are needed badly.”
Each of the mayors provided an update on his city’s project list.
They all said their list existed in some form, though most still need to be approved by city councils.
“I don’t have anything to talk about, except my list is ready,” joked Union City Mayor Vince Williams.
Hapeville Alderman Ruth Barr was more specific.
She provided a rundown of projects, including $400,000 for silent railroad crossings.
“Everyone’s tired of railroad noise,” she said.
County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr., who represents south Fulton’s unincorporated areas, said he will work to ensure those areas will benefit from the sales tax as much as the county’s municipalities.
“Certainly I would want the unincorporated portion of the county to get its share of the .75 percent,” he said.
Eaves said in a statement after the meeting that “three-quarters of a penny” is a small investment that will generate a significant payoff.
“What’s important to note is that every municipality chooses its own projects,” he said. “South Fulton needs more bus lanes? Union City plans to fix potholes? Leaders in each jurisdiction can simply add it to their project wish list.”
Eaves said the role transit can play is also being considered.
“Next year, a quarter of a penny will likely go to MARTA and after five years, it would go up to a half a cent,” he said. “This gives everyone a chance to study the impact of transit from heavy rail to managed bus lanes.”
The leaders have until June to come up with a countywide list if the referendum is to appear on the November ballot.