Officials with Fulton County and 12 cities including Sandy Springs are one vote away from getting a transportation sales tax renewal referendum before the voters on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Fulton County voters in 2016 had approved the Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), a 0.75-cent sales tax for transportation projects. Now, officials want to renew the tax. 

South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards said during a meeting of the mayors and County Commission on June 30 that he’d try to get his City Council to hold a special meeting to join in approving an intergovernmental agreement for TSPLOST. Once that document is signed, the commissioners can vote to put the referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot. The commission has an Aug. 4 deadline to do that.

The city of Atlanta is not included in the TSPLOST because it has its own.

County officials project that Sandy Springs would receive $99.7 million during the five years of TSPLOST II. Tax collections would begin April 1, 2022 – the day after TSPLOST I collections officially end.

Sandy Springs proposes spending $38.5 million on congestion relief, which is for the Hammond Drive widening project west of Ga. 400.

The city designated almost as much for pedestrian and bike improvements, planning $36.7 million of projects.

Other Fulton cities are planning similar projects. David Clark, director of Public Works for Fulton County, said collectively about $180 million is proposed to fund pedestrian and bike improvements across Fulton County, which is 31% of the $546 million that would be generated by the tax. 

“The citizens certainly were asking for a lot of pedestrian bike improvements. And certainly, as you can see in this chart, the cities responded to that and included a sizable portion of the money towards those projects,” Clark said.

Operations and safety improvements in Sandy Springs would get $18.3 million in funding, with approximately $6.2 million designated for improvements to pedestrian, bike and aesthetic improvements to three bridges over Ga. 400 that the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to replace.

The Georgia Transportation Alliance will work to educate voters about the process in getting the referendum on the ballot. It also will inform the public on how transportation project lists were created, and what those projects mean for each city.

Seth Millican, executive director of the organization, said they will take the responsibility of raising funds to support the education campaign from the business community. Five years ago they raised $350,000, and he expects to raise about the same amount for this work.

The county and cities are prohibited from lobbying for passage of the referendum. They can only educate the public.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.