They say they need time to compile a list of projects that can convince voters to back a new tax. And they fear placing the referendum on the same 2020 ballot with another sales tax.
East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said it was “too early to tell” whether the county would seek a special district for transit or take it county-wide. He said some key lawmakers were aware of the county’s impending request and were discussing it.
“In order to have everything on the table, the county needs the extension,” Ott said. “I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other yet.”
Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman, who favors transit expansion and sits on the county's advisory board, said he's concerned about Cobb falling behind other counties, like Gwinnett, that have moved more aggressively on transit expansion. Missing the 2020 election also means passing up the high voter turnout of a presidential election year, which a recent survey showed would likely bolster transit initiatives among young, more affluent but less engaged voters.
In the end, however, Thurman said that voters won’t support a new tax without knowing exactly how it will benefit them.
“It depends on the project list and what comes out of that, obviously, is going to really make a difference,” he said. “The longer we wait the more it’s going to cost.”
Chairman Mike Boyce said he has been clear since the bill was signed into law that the time frame was unrealistic. He said he was not concerned that waiting to hold the vote would hurt Cobb, pointing to several companies that announced they were relocating to Cobb or expanding there over the past year.
“It’s important for the business community to understand that we are not ignoring this issue,” said Boyce. “There is a way to do things in Cobb County and get them successfully to pass. If you push the voters in this county into a corner and don’t give them the time to fully become part of the process … they will vote it down.”