Yesterday at the Capitol legislators representing Clayton County met with MARTA and ARC staff, Clayton Commission Chair Eldrin Bell, and community leaders to discuss the options for bringing transit back to Clayton County.
Four different sources of potential funding for transit in the county were discussed:
1- The Clayton County Commission can enact a special tax district to levy a 1 cent sales tax at the airport to use for transit terminating at the airport. This option doesn’t require voter approval but would only raise an estimated $2.5 million a year. This isn’t enough to restore the prior service but, along with fares, could restore part of the service.
2- The Clayton County Commission could put a binding referendum on the November 2012 ballot to levy a 1 cent sales tax and join MARTA. This option requires the legislature to extend the current lifting of the sales tax ceiling for Clayton County.
3- Clayton County can submit transit service to the Regional Roundtable to include on the project list for the 2012 regional referendum. This option requires the full Roundtable putting the Clayton projects on the final list to be voted on by the region in July 2012.
4- The Clayton County Commission can set aside part or all of the 15% of the regional sale tax money that will be returned to the county if the regional referendum passes to use for transit.
These actions require a majority of the Clayton County Commission (or in the case of option 3 the Regional Roundtable) to move forward. All of the members of the County Commission were invited to the meeting and only the chair Eldrin Bell was in attendance. None of these options preclude any other – a combination of options could raise enough funds to restart the service.