Seven Georgia counties to decide next week on transportation tax

October 27, 2021

Keith Goble

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Local ballots in counties throughout Georgia next week will include questions about whether to authorize or renew taxes that benefit transportation work.

Tuesday, Nov. 2, ballots in counties across the state will ask voters whether to approve a 1% tax that would be used solely for local infrastructure.

Questions in five counties would authorize funding from the Transportation Local Option Sales Tax. The state created the tax option five years ago for purposes that include roads, bridges, public transit, and seaports.

According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, 96 of the state’s 159 counties have enacted the transportation sales tax.

The following is a rundown of counties that have transportation funding questions on their fall ballots.

Fulton County

The fall election in the state’s largest county will include a question about whether to renew the 0.75%, five-year transportation sales tax .

Collection of the existing tax in Fulton County is scheduled to sunset in March 2022. Renewal would extend the tax collection until March 2027.

The tax is estimated to raise $546 million over that time period.

First approved in 2016, the tax is collected in all 15 Fulton cities except Atlanta. The state’s most populous city has its own transportation local option sales tax.

The county tax collected outside of Atlanta provides funds for city- and transit-related transportation projects. The county’s overall sales tax is 7.75%.

Renewal of the tax would not include funding for transit.

Commissioners opted not to include transit because of concerns that voters would not agree to approve extension of the tax. Residents have complained about how transit is run in recent years in the county.

Henry County

The ballot in Henry County will include a referendum to cover improvements to local infrastructure.

The five-year, 1% tax is estimated to raise $245 million. Money would be distributed among the county and four municipalities under a predetermined formula to address approved project lists.

The county southeast of Atlanta now collects a 7% sales tax.

Most of the new tax revenue – 69% – would stay with the county. The cities of Hampton and Locust Grove would collect about 3.5%. The city of McDonough would get about 11% and the city of Stockbridge would get nearly 13%.

Monroe County

Citizens in Monroe County will vote for the second time in as many years whether to implement the 1% tax for local infrastructure. The county now collects a 7% sales tax.

In 2020, voters rejected the proposed tax by a 51-49% margin. Hopeful there is enough support for passage this time around, county commissioners recently voted to add a question to the upcoming fall ballot to impose the penny tax.

The tax is estimated to generate about $17 million over five years. The bulk of the revenue – $14.1 million – would go to the county located northwest of Macon. The remainder would go to cities.

Oconee County

Voters in Oconee County also will decide on the tax to cover improvements to local infrastructure.

The transportation sales tax referendum in the county located south of Athens would authorize a 1% tax solely for transportation purposes. The county now collects a 7% sales tax.

The tax is estimated to raise up to $56 million over five years. The county would receive about $48 million. Cities would divvy up the remaining $8 million.

At least 30% of sales tax revenue must be used for projects consistent with the state’s strategic transportation plan.

Peach County

Ballots on Peach County will include a question to add 1% to the existing 7% sales tax for transportation work.

The new revenue would raise about $27 million over five years.

About two-thirds of that amount would go toward county roads. The cities of Byron and Fort Valley would divvy 34%.

Effingham County

Elsewhere, voters in Effingham County will decide whether to renew a special-purpose local-option sales tax.

The special-purpose tax authorizes a 1% sales tax for purposes that include roads. It is collected in all but four Georgia counties.

Tax collection in Effingham County would raise an estimated $80 million over six years.

In 2020, voters in the county north of Savannah approved a transportation sales tax to raise an estimated $45 million over five years. The revenue is used exclusively for transportation purposes.

Muscogee County

Muscogee County is one of only four counties statewide not to collect the special-purpose local-option sales tax. A question on the countywide ballot will ask voters whether to implement the tax.

Voter approval in the county that includes the city of Columbus would raise an estimated $400 million over 10 years. Of that amount, 10% would be designated for road work and other infrastructure projects. LL

More election coverage

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of transportation ballot questions across the U.S. Here are some recent articles by him.

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.