At the retreat, other commissioners said they were worried the effort would fail if it was rushed to the ballot too soon. The board hasn’t finalized a project list for the 30-year sales tax, and is already facing a busy spring with three cityhood elections in May and budget negotiations that have to be completed by July.
Cupid said she also met with city mayors, transportation consultants and community leaders this month, and not enough people were motivated to mount a public campaign to earn voter approval this year.
For transit supporters, there are a few silver linings to a 2024 referendum. Turnout should be high, because it would share a ballot with the presidential election. DeKalb and Gwinnett are considering referendums of their own, and if all three go to the ballot at once, it could be easier to sell voters on a regional transit plan.
While the delay gives the county more time to solicit public input on its transit plans, it also gives backers of a separate transportation sales tax another chance to rally political support.
The commission’s two Republicans prefer to ask voters for a 5-year sales tax that would fund surface transportation projects, such as roads and sidewalks. Cupid opposes the surface transportation tax, saying that voters are unlikely to agree to two sales tax hikes.