State legislation to be unveiled today could pave the way for transit expansions in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, part of Cobb County and in much of the rest of the Atlanta region in the future.
The bill, to be unveiled at a press conference by House Speaker David Ralston, would allow 13 metro Atlanta counties to impose 30-year sales taxes for mass transit projects, if their voters approve them. At least two local counties – Fulton and Gwinnett – are finalizing transit plans and may ask voters to approve such taxes.
The bill also would allow the Cobb County Board of Commissioners to create a new transportation district in the Cumberland Community Improvement District area. The district could impose a 1 percent transit tax, if voters in the area approve it. The tax would not be imposed on the rest of the county. However, it could pave the way for more mass transit in a portion of Cobb County, which has long resisted it.
Other highlights of the bill include:
*The bill would allow Fulton County (outside Atlanta) to impose a quarter-cent transit sales tax for transit, if voters approve it.
*Create a new board to oversee transit planning in the 13-county metro area. The board would have to sign off on the project lists for any county transit referendum. But the taxes raised in any county would be spent only in that county.
*It would impose a 1 percent tax on consumer goods provided at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. The proceeds of the taxes would be dedicated to transit projects in the respective regions.
*It would impose a 50-cent fee on all taxi and ride-hailing service trips in the 13-county area. The money would be dedicated to transit projects.
The state Senate is considering similar legislation.
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