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GNFCC hears overview of transportation sales tax

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Members of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce held a special information session Aug. 27 to hear a breakdown of what the November transportation sales tax vote could mean for the area.

Guests from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and state legislators spoke on the upcoming sales tax vote and on the legislative redistricting slated for this fall.

Seth Millican, executive director of the Georgia Transportation Alliance in the Georgia Chamber, spoke about round two of the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) in Fulton County.

TSPLOST, passed by Fulton County voters in 2016, is a .75 percent sales tax whose revenue goes to cities to pay for transportation improvements, such as road widenings, sidewalks and intersection improvements. The tax applies to all of the county’s cities outside of Atlanta, which has its own transportation sales tax.

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Millican acknowledged the policy’s success in having projects delivered on time and within budget.

Over the course of its five-year run, which ends in March, the TSPLOST will have generated $500 million and delivered more than 415 transportation projects in the 13 participating cities, Fulton County officials say.

The ballot measure up for consideration this fall would extend the same .75 percent sales tax another five years. Analysis from Georgia State University estimates the new tax will bring in roughly $545 million.

The money will be distributed by a formula voted on by the cities in 2017, according to Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann. The formula is based on population estimates in each city.

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Here’s a breakdown of how each North Fulton city would fare from the tax:

Alpharetta would be awarded $61.2 million, with $27 million dedicated to pedestrian, bike and streetscape improvements, $18.8 million toward maintenance and safety improvements, $18.7 million dedicated to operation and safety improvements and $2 million dedicated to congestion and roadway projects.

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Johns Creek is estimated to receive $77 million, with $29.8 million dedicated to pedestrian, bike and streetscape improvements, $20.1 million dedicated to operations and safety improvements, $16.7 million to congestion relief and roadway projects and the remaining $10.3 million allocated to bridges.

Milton is expected to receive $36 million, with $14 million dedicated to operations and safety, $8.4 million dedicated to pedestrian and bike improvements, $8 million dedicated to maintenance and safety, $4 million dedicated to bridges, $1 million to quick response and $657,500 dedicated to program management.

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Roswell is estimated to receive $86.3 million, with $50.6 million dedicated to operations and safety, $20.9 million dedicated toward pedestrian, bike, streetscape and landscape projects, $5.5 million dedicated to maintenance and safety improvements, $5 million dedicated to program management and $4.2 million dedicated to bridges.

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Sandy Springs is expected to receive $99.7 million with $38.5 million dedicated to congestion relief and roadway projects, $36.7 million dedicated to pedestrian, bike, streetscape and landscape projects, $18.3 million dedicated to operations and safety and the remaining $6.1 million dedicated to bridges.

Millican said the GTA’s efforts to educate voters so that they may make an informed decision about the referendum including partnering with the county and county government.

“Our goal is to get a set of simple, concrete explanatory information into the hands of each of our likely voters in Fulton County several times before they go to vote so that when they’re posed with the ballot question … they know exactly what’s going on and how to make a good decision about that,” Millican said.

Hausmann expressed a desire to share the effectiveness of the TSPLOST as a part of the education campaign, stopping short of advocating for the measure.

“I agree whole-heartedly, while we educate and not advocate according to the law, I think that is the question that people are going to have, ‘What did you do in the first five years?’” Hausmann said. “You can drive around and see the evidence, it’s very obvious, but people still really want to know exactly what they got last time in order to make a decision on if it should continue.”

The chamber also heard updates on redistricting efforts in the state.

Georgia House of Representatives Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones said she thinks the Legislature will go back into session sometime between the end of October and the first two weeks of November to approve maps drawn based on the census.

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Not all of the census data is available yet due to delays caused by the pandemic, but it is expected by the end of September. Jones said the Legislature will be focused primarily on the House, Senate and congressional seats. School districts will also get some needed attention, Jones said.

However, local governments are not on the same timeline as other district lines, Jones said, because of state legislation passed last session, “allowing them to run on old maps for this time … we can wait until next year to redistrict them.”

With a large portion of North Fulton currently falling within U.S. Congressional District 6, Jones addressed concerns about how the new maps might look.

“I don’t believe anyone else could tell you what the 6th Congressional District is going to look like other than I can assure you that it will be within one person equal to the size of all the other congressional districts and that the maps will be fair, and they will be legal, just as they were 10 years ago,” Jones said.

Reach Sydney Dangremond at 770-847-7404. Follow her on Twitter @syddang_.

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