MARTA Board members on Wednesday rejected a contract to provide bus service to Clayton County in exchange for a half-penny sales tax on the dollar, putting the county back where it started without any local public transportation unless Commissioners act to approve a full-penny sales tax before a Sunday deadline.
The MARTA board voted unanimously to reject the half-cent deal, saying it was unfair to existing jurisdictions of DeKalb, Fulton and the city of Atlanta who have been paying a one-cent sales tax for 35 years.
“At the present time we need to have those counties who are going to participate in our system to help maintain and improve our infrastructure of the rail,” said Harold Buckley Sr., who represents DeKalb County on the MARTA board. “In this particular instance, they are not taking that into consideration. We need the full one-cent sales tax in order for us to help improve the infrastructure so that when the rest of the county comes into the system we have a first-class rail system available for them to join.”
The MARTA board instead approved a one-cent sales tax agreement with Clayton County, putting the ball back in the county’s court. Now, Commissioners must either call another meeting to reconsider a full penny, or let the whole deal die.