Tax increases proposed for DeKalb roads and MARTA

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Tax increases proposed for DeKalb roads and MARTA

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The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners and CEO Mike Thurmond asked the county's delegation to the Georgia House of Representatives to consider sales taxes for infrastructure and MARTA. Seated from left are Commissioners Jeff Rader, Greg Adams, Mereda Davis Johnson, Nancy Jester, Larry Johnson, Steve Bradshaw, Kathie Gannon and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver. Thurmond is speaking. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

State lawmakers representing DeKalb County will consider raising sales taxes this year to pay for road repaving and MARTA expansion.

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners requested the tax increases Monday during the first meeting of the county’s delegation to the Georgia House of Representatives.

Here’s a look at the list of the commission’s legislative priorities:

  • Let voters to decide on a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax that would pay for roads and other infrastructure. County commissioners asked state representatives to change the wording of a 2015 law that could have the unintended consequence of increasing property taxes along with sales taxes. The county currently charges a 7 percent sales tax.
  • Allow a voter referendum on raising sales taxes for MARTA by a half cent per dollar. This money could go toward long-sought projects such as the eastward extension of train lines to Stonecrest and the Clifton Corridor light rail connecting Lindbergh Station, Emory University and Avondale Station. Atlanta voters approved a similar MARTA tax last year.
  • Force cities formed in recent years to contribute to the county’s unfunded pension liabilities. Those cities could include Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Tucker and Stonecrest.
  • Create stricter standards before new cities can be created. Those standards could include a countywide referendum when an area seeks to incorporate.
  • Permit counties to collect franchise fees from utilities for their use of public right-of-way. Currently only cities can collect franchise fees from most utilities, though cable companies pay both cities and counties.
  • Create a charter review commission to evaluate DeKalb’s CEO-led government structure.
  • Support funding for county transportation, juvenile justice and 911 systems. These initiatives are part of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia’s legislative agenda.
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