Chance: Regional road tax would help Fayette get money back
While some are up in arms about the possibility of a regional transportation sales tax being enacted in Fayette County, there is a good bit of upside, according to State Sen. Ronnie Chance of Tyrone.
Currently, some 90 percent of the state’s transportation funding is spent north of Interstate 20, Chance told The Citizen in an interview Monday.
If the new tax is approved by voters next year, it will help “level the playing field” in that regard, Chance said.
For example, the cooperative nature of the system might encourage Fulton County to accelerate funding for upgrading the often-clogged interchange of Ga. Highway 74 at Interstate 85, Chance said. Traffic is incredibly difficult to navigate during the morning and evening commutes, he added.
The potential sales tax has been assailed by some as a bid to spend Fayette County’s tax revenue elsewhere in metro Atlanta. But funding equity on a county by county basis is one of the stated goals of the 21-member “roundtable” that will be voting on the list of projects to be offered in the referendum.
Fayette’s two representatives on that roundtable are Fayette County Commission Chairman Herb Frady and Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, who replaced the ousted Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix. Haddix was voted off by a 3-2 vote of the county’s mayors after he argued vociferously — and unsuccessfully — that Fayette should withdraw from the 10-county metro Atlanta region and instead join a region including Coweta, Spalding and other rural counties south of here.
Chance noted that the southern rural region, the Three Rivers district, hadn’t even invited Fayette County to join.
The other plus is that the process allows communities to vote based on the project list compiled by their elected officials, Chance said.
The catch, however, is that the vote will be tallied region-wide, with results from all 10 counties piled together for the final decision. So it’s possible that Fayette County could vote down the tax, but it could still be assessed here if it is approved in the region-wide aggregate vote.
Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown has contended that if the tax passes, transit in the form of bus and rail service could be “forced” on Fayette County. But Commission Chairman Frady counters that won’t happen, as any transit initiative would require funds from the county.
Frady has pointed out several times that Fayette County turned down a bid several years ago to partially fund commuter buses into metro Atlanta in a project proposed by the Georgia Regional Transit Authority.