People who know about Fulton County’s plan to raise taxes to pay for a slew of transportation improvements are generally in favor of the idea, Chairman John Eaves said this week.
There’s just one problem: not enough people know about the plan.
“There’s so much clutter right now,” Eaves said. “National politics, the school choice option. (The transportation tax) is not priority No. 1.”
With just more than a month to go until the Nov. 8 election, Eaves said a push with radio ads, yard signs and direct mail will educate residents about the transportation special purpose local option sales tax, known as TSPLOST. In Fulton County outside the city of Atlanta, residents will vote on whether to raise sales taxes by three-quarters of a penny for five years to fund road, bridge and other fixes. It is the first time Fulton County has proposed such a tax.
Some confusion may come from the fact that in Atlanta, residents are voting on two similar measures. They will decide whether they want to add a 0.4-cent tax for five years for transportation improvements, as well as a 40-year 0.5-cent tax to fund an expansion of MARTA.
Eaves and representatives of the county’s 14 cities said they hadn’t heard any organized opposition to the tax measures. People recognize “there is a challenge in terms of congestion” that a tax increase could help solve, Eaves said.
“The people who know are supportive,” he said. “Right now, there’s a moderate, at best, level of engagement.”
The projects range from more than $50 million to widen roads and increase capacity in Johns Creek to $2 million to resurface streets in Chattahoochee Hills.
The cities and unincorporated Fulton County, which created the project lists that the tax will fund, have been tasked with educating local voters about the proposal, Fulton Chief Operating Officer Todd Long said. At council meetings and festivals, they are pushing for its passage.
Still, there is more to do.
“Polls show us people don’t really know what it is,” Long said.
Knowledge on the county’s south side is greater than in the north, he said. In East Point and Fairburn, city representatives said they were winning over residents by going to homeowners’ association meetings and other small-scale events and highlighting specific projects that would be relevant in their areas.
Eaves’ main concern, he said, is that residents who encounter an unfamiliar measure on the ballot will simply vote against it.
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