MILTON, Ga. — Fulton County is gauging interest from its cities for another round of a voter-approved sales tax that will fund local transportation projects, and Milton officials appear to be on board. Two questions remain, though — what kind of projects those dollars will fund and at what tax rate.
The Milton City Council discussed the matter at its Feb. 1 meeting.
The current countywide TSPLOST, which excludes Atlanta, passed by referendum in 2016 and is expected to bring in about $36.5 million to the city to ease congestion, improve intersections and fund other traffic easing measures. It has financed recently completed projects, including the Charlotte Drive extension and its roundabout at Mayfield Road. Several projects currently in the works are also funded by the transportation sales tax, including the Morris Road widening and intersection improvements at Bethany Bend, Bethany Way and Hopewell Road.
The current tax expires in April 2022, but the county has presented three options to its cities for extending it another five years.
The first proposal would charge a .75 percent sales tax with all funds, anticipated to be around $500 million, distributed among Fulton County’s cities, excluding Atlanta. Dollars would be allocated based on each municipality’s population.
A second option is a .75 percent sales tax with two-thirds of the proceeds distributed to cities and the remaining third funding mass transit projects. Cities outside of Atlanta would share about $300 million under the proposal, according to Milton City Manager Steve Krokoff.
Another option is to charge a full penny sales tax with cities receiving three-fourths of the revenues and the remaining 25 percent funding transit projects.
With only a sliver of Milton now served by transit, and seemingly little interest in expanding that footprint, city officials shared their support for the .75 percent sales tax with no funding toward transit projects.
Mayor Joe Lockwood said that proposal “makes the most sense” for Milton.
“The majority of North Fulton cities have tended to agree with that in sessions with their council,” Lockwood said. “The drawback with the [1 percent sales tax] is when this comes before a vote for our citizens, that makes it a higher tax percentage with the full 1 percent, which may effect the ability to get this passed.”
Council members Rick Mohrig and Laura Bentley each backed Lockwood’s comments that the non-transit, .75 percent sales tax plan is the most logical proposal for Milton.
Milton is not the only party in play to put the optional sales tax referendum on the Nov. 2, 2021 ballot, though.
Fulton County is still testing the waters for its proposals, and any plan would require the support of elected officials representing 60 percent of the county’s population, outside of Atlanta, for a referendum. Lockwood said a call among city leaders is scheduled for Feb. 5 to further discuss the proposals.
Krokoff said if a referendum is called, the city would likely create a project list with a tiered system, the same strategy it used for the current tax.