DeKalb County leaders are considering a way to squeeze some extra money from the proposed transportation sales tax.
As it stands, the proposed transportation penny sales tax would automatically expire when the projected $6.1 billion is collected, even if that is before the 10-year sunset of the tax.
But the DeKalb Board of Commissioners is considering joining other agencies in supporting an automatic 10-year collection of the tax even if the anticipated funds are collected early. That proposal would allow more tax funds to be collected.
“If we collect the tax for the full 10-years, if it should pass, we could then have the opportunity to go back and provide funding for those projects like the I-20 MARTA project that did not get enough funding,” said Commissioner Kathie Gannon.
The actual cost of the projects and the estimation of how long it will take to raise the $6.1 billion is “really a guestimate,” Gannon said.
The board is considering asking the state’s General Assembly to adjust the end date for the proposed tax.
There is “almost $30 billion worth of infrastructure in our region, if not more,” said Commissioner Lee May. “Every penny that we can get over the 10-year window is definitely needed.”
If the end-date adjustment is approved, May said the legislature and regional stakeholders will have to determine how to “prioritize projects which will be the benefactors of this additional revenue that will come forward.”
In August, the Atlanta Regional Roundtable unanimously approved a motion to ask the governor and state legislature to extend the proposed tax to the full 10 years.
On Oct. 13, the roundtable approved a project list that will go to voters next year in a referendum approved by the state legislature last year.
Voters in the 10-county metro Atlanta region will decide whether they want to pay a penny-sales tax to fund various transportation projects, including transit, roadway safety, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
Among the $1.1 billion in proposed DeKalb County projects are a $700 million Clifton Corridor Transit that would run from Lindbergh Center to Emory University and a $225 million I-20 corridor project in which several park-and-ride express bus stations would be constructed, connecting the Indian Creek MARTA station to the Wesley Chapel area.