Primary voters will face other key issues

The Marietta school system wants voters to agree to issue a five-year, $7.145 million general obligation bond to help fund a new $8.9 million performance auditorium at Marietta High School.

At stake: Voters will essentially decide between lowering taxes or keeping them the same, at least initially. In the first two years, the extra tax rate would be identical to the rate for an older school bond expiring this year, which equates to $95 on a $200,000 home. If voters approve extending Marietta’s education penny sales tax next year, the bond tax rate would go away. If not, the bond tax would go up an additional $11 on a $200,000 home starting in 2015, along with more added taxes to pay off other debts now being covered by sales tax proceeds, school system spokesman Thomas Algarin said.

The Cobb Taxpayers Association opposes the school bond, saying city taxpayers were hit with a 14 percent tax rate hike by the county last year and just started paying off a $25 million parks bond to the tune of about $60 extra on a $200,000 home. “Now is not the time,” said Brett Bittner, the group’s vice president. “This . . . should have been done when the school was built initially.”

More Sunday sales?

At least 11 metro Atlanta jurisdictions will be part of the state’s second wave of referendums on Sunday package sales, deciding whether stores can sell beer, wine and liquor for takeout seven days per week.

Voting: Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Henry counties, and the cities of Austell, Buford, Cumming, Lovejoy, Marietta and Powder Springs.

At stake: After voters overwhelmingly said yes in November referendums, and with organized opposition on moral and religious grounds fading, approval of Sunday sales is expected to continue spreading over the metro area. Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth and Henry counties could end up entirely wet on the issue of Sunday sales.

“Over time, you’ll see the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle begin to fill in,” said Jay Hibbard, vice president of government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Continue MOST tax?

Atlanta voters will decide whether to continue a 1-cent “municipal option sales tax” to fund water and sewer projects.

At stake: If the tax fails, water and sewer rates could increase 25 percent to 30 percent over the next four years to pay for projects required by a federal consent decree, according to the city’s Department of Watershed Management. The city’s rates are already among the highest in the country. On the other hand, the city’s sales tax rate is currently 8 percent, and if voters in 10 metro Atlanta counties approve a transportation tax later this year, adding another penny, Atlanta could have one of the nation’s highest sales tax rates.

A yes vote would extend the MOST four years. In that span, the tax would raise between $400 million and $440 million, according to the city’s estimates.

The Department of Watershed Management says it needs the revenue to maintain and upgrade the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, including about $478 million budgeted to fix leaks and make other upgrades required by state and federal regulators.

Advance voting

Registered voters can cast their ballots in Georgia’s March 6 presidential primaries through advance in-person voting.

To find your polling location and a sample ballot, go to sos.ga.gov/mvp.

-- Staff writers Jeremy Redmon, Jeremiah McWilliams and freelancer Tucker McQueen contributed to this article.

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