Rep. Kevin Tanner, R - Dawsonville, receives an ovation after the passage of HB 930, the mass transportation bill. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Georgia transit bill could pave the way for Cobb County MARTA vote

Legislation approved by the General Assembly late Thursday could pave the way for a MARTA expansion in Cobb County by 2019.

House Bill 930 would allow 13 metro Atlanta counties to impose transit sales taxes. But it includes special provisions for Cobb that would allow a portion of the county to pay for a MARTA expansion without obligating the rest of the county.

The bill has to pass the House and Senate by midnight.

An earlier provision that would have created a south Cobb transit district was removed from the bill because of disagreements over its size and boundaries.

The final version would create a committee to draw the district boundaries and agree on a contract with MARTA to provide specific services. The committee would consist of county commissioners and state lawmakers representing Cobb.

The bill gives the committee until next year to work out the district boundaries and the financial details of a transit expansion, including how to pay for it. A majority of commissioners and a majority of state legislators would each have to approve the details.

The bill indicates any transit expansion could be paid for with county bonds or other revenue sources.

MARTA would not be Cobb’s only option for a transit expansion. Like the other metro counties, it could opt to hold a countywide vote on a transit sales tax. That would allow the county to expand transit independently of MARTA, if it chose.

But if it wants to create a special transit district, MARTA is its only option.

For more details on HB 930, visit later today.

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