Counties with MARTA, GRTA could vote sooner on transportation tax

A Senate committee on Monday tweaked a bill to make it easier for some metro Atlanta counties to decide for themselves whether to raise local sales taxes to pay for transportation projects.

House Bill 106 as rewritten by the Senate Transportation Committee last week proposed several notable changes from the state’s 10-year, 1 percent regional transportation sales tax currently used in some areas. For starters, it would let local governments initiate the process of setting up a vote on the tax. It would give counties the option of going it alone if a regional consensus cannot be reached. And it could cost a fraction of a penny, rather than the whole coin as currently constructed.

The committee had said each of Georgia’s 159 counties could decide for themselves on a county-by-county basis to pursue a local sales tax only after January 2017. Changes made in committee Monday, however, would allow earlier votes for any metro Atlanta county currently served by the area’s MARTA transit system or the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA).

Unanimous passage by the committee now sends the bill back to the Senate Rules Committee, which decides which bills head to the floor for a vote by the whole chamber.

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