The window for Gwinnett County to authorize a MARTA referendum this November closes on July 9th. If the County Commission does not act before then it is effectively voting to wait on transit until 2020.
In light of the recent transit bill (HB 930), there are two options for Gwinnett County to invest in transit.
The first option is to join MARTA under the MARTA Act.
- The Gwinnett County Commission and MARTA execute a “rapid transit contract” at least 120 days before a general election (deadline July 9)
- General elections are held in November 2018 and November 2020
- The County Commission then authorizes a ballot measure voters to approve the contract.
- The last opportunity at a regularly scheduled Gwinnett County Commission meeting is June 26
The new, second option under HB 930 is to raise a sales tax through the ATL authority. The process for a sales tax under the ATL is similar, but involves a longer timeframe and more uncertainty:
- In 2019, the ATL will form and begin preparing a regional transit plan
- There is no deadline for completing this plan and counties in the ATL are in varied levels of preparedness in their transit planning
- Once the regional plan is complete, Gwinnett County would prepare a project list selected from the regional plan
- A meeting would be called between the County Commission and the cities to negotiate an agreement over the project list, tax rate and other terms.
- Once that is in place, the County Commission would authorize a sales tax referendum to pay for the projects on that list
However, if Gwinnett Transit chooses the ATL option it will (i) not be able to build heavy rail projects, (ii) will likely have to wait until 2020 in order for the ATL to prepare the project list, and (iii) would not get representation on the MARTA board.
Calling a MARTA referendum now for the November election would allow Gwinnett County to invest in transit two years sooner and would preserve the option of building heavy rail (as the Gwinnett Transit Study recommends).