DeKalb voters question 1% transportation sales tax proposal


DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - There is a new push to get voters in to buy-in to a new transportation tax that backers say will ease traffic in metro Atlanta.

Part of the money from the proposed tax would be used to improve road conditions in DeKalb County and to build a bridge at Clifton and Haygood roads.

At a meeting Wednesday night, some DeKalb residents voiced concerns.

The one percent sales tax, up for vote in July, would bring in $6 billion for regional transit and transportation projects in metro Atlanta. DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said without the tax, Atlanta could suffer.

"We've got to compete for dwindling federal dollars with other regions throughout the country. If this should fail this summer, it sets us back, and that means areas like Charlotte, Seattle, Dallas/Ft. Worth will then leap frog ahead of us," Ellis said.

A coalition of groups is now working together and using penny pins to show support of the transportation tax, but the tea party is also working to get it defeated.

Many voters at Wednesday's meeting said they still need to know more about the tax and where the money would go before they vote.

Supporters said the money will go to 150 projects, including the Atlanta Beltline – a rail line between the Lindbegh area of Buckhead and the Emory Campus -- and enhanced transit service from the Arts Center Station to Cobb County, plus the return of the Clayton County bus service.

"It's also about the creation of 200,000 jobs sustained until 2040. This is an economic stimulus when we most need it in the Atlanta region," Ellis said.

Some MARTA riders questioned the need for the projects.

"They have been getting a one-percent sales tax, so why is it necessary to raise it?" MARTA rider Richard Durepo said.