By Amy Wenk
Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos and other Fulton mayors are opposing the proposed new sales tax for transportation.
A new law calls for people to vote up or down on a 1 percent sales tax that would fund transportation projects for 10 years. The referendum will be on the ballot in November 2012.
But the thought of paying two 1 percent sales taxes to fund transit in Fulton County has upset local mayors. Fulton and DeKalb counties already pay a 1 percent sales tax to foot the bill for MARTA.
“We don’t want to pay a 2 percent sales tax unless others help pay for MARTA,” Galambos said, referring to counties like Cobb, Gwinnett and Cherokee.
Galambos on Aug. 3 asked Sandy Springs City Council to approve a resolution that opposes the additional 1 percent sales tax. The resolution states that Galambos and the City Council oppose the additional sales tax for transportation in Fulton and DeKalb counties unless surrounding counties form and fund a regional transit system.
“This is the only leverage Fulton and DeKalb have got,” Galambos said. “We have been saying ‘pretty please’ for years.”
The board deferred voting on the resolution until Aug. 17.
“This is a huge deal, Mayor,” Dist. 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins said. Jenkins said passing the resolution could derail the transportation legislation. She felt the public deserved a chance to weigh in on the decision.
“If Fulton County does not support the transportation tax, there’s a good chance it won’t pass,” Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said.
Wood brought a similar resolution to Roswell City Council on Aug. 9 and the board deferred a decision until Sept. 13. “I’m tired of it. If we don’t stand up now, the inequities will continue for another 30 years.”
Dist. 54 Rep. Ed Lindsey, who represents Buckhead and Sandy Springs, said a transportation study committee has been selected to take a look at metro Atlanta’s transit system.
“There’s no question that we need to develop a new model plan for how transit is to look,” Lindsey said.
The committee, he said, would release its findings and suggest necessary legislative changes before people vote on the referendum in November 2012.
“Everything is on the table,” Lindsey said. “I certainly think the very legitimate concerns that are being expressed by Mayor Wood and Mayor Galambos need to be part of the discussion that takes place in the study committee. I certainly welcome their involvement.”