Early surveys suggest Gwinnett is open to a transit-funding sales tax

It’s just the beginning and it ain’t scientific. But it ain’t exactly insignificant, either.

The first round of surveys in Gwinnett County’s transportation development study are in and, if about 3,700 folks are any indication, residents appear ready and willing to pay a sales tax to fund expanded transit offerings.

What, specifically, those offerings may be remain to be seen, and there’s still a long way to go toward the goal of having a countywide transit referendum in 2018. But the early answers to the question about a potential sales tax to fund transit expansion has officials feeling optimistic.

More on myAJC.com: Employees alleged racial reference puts Gwinnett in the spotlight. Again.

“The public outreach results were encouraging,” Gwinnett Department of Transportation Director Alan Chapman said this week. “I don’t know that we’ll know for sure how the public feels about it until we do [more formal] polling … But if our citizens and our voters want to expand the system, we want to be ready to go with it.”

Gwinnett launched its transit development planning study earlier this year with the goal of determining what might be the county’s most feasible short-, medium- and long-term transit options. Transportation officials hope to make formal recommendations on those options by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

There is a lot more work to be done and a lot more public input to gather, including a scientific poll, officials said. But Chapman and a representative from consulting firm Kimley-Horn shared initial findings during a recent briefing with the county’s Board of Commissioners.

The first round of surveys took input from 3,674 county residents, more than three-fourths of which were not current riders of Gwinnett County Transit. About 65 percent of the total respondents said they would “strongly support” or “somewhat support” a new sales tax to fund transit expansion.

Those surveyed were far less enthusiastic about the possibility of increasing property taxes to pay for transit (a measure that could, in theory, be taken without a public referendum). Less than one-third said that they would support such a move.

“You look at the dollar figures involved, and you look at the reaction to increasing property taxes … and it’s a pretty easy leap to get to the point that there will be a referendum involved with this at some point,” Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said.

More on myAJC.com: New Sugarloaf Parkway extension may be a toll road

Gwinnett County Transit currently consists of six local bus routes that run almost exclusively on the western end of the county, as well as five express routes to locations inside I-285. It serves about 5,000 people a day.

The survey results released this week said more than 76 percent of non-transit riders agreed that some type of expansion is needed.

How a referendum on any such expansion would be framed — and whether it would mention any specific modes of transit — will be shaped by the results of the ongoing study, officials said.

“At this time I think we really don’t have clarity on that, in terms of exactly how the referendum would be structured,” Nash said. “But I’m pretty clear on the fact that sales tax is going to be the primary funding stream option.”

In other Gwinnett news:

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Fulton County restaurant inspection scores

Fulton County • Amara Restaurant, 870 Inman Village Parkway, Atlanta. 85/B • Stem’s Café, 3777 Campbellton Road, Atlanta. 90/A • Tannour Grill, 398 14th St., Atlanta. 100/A • The Sun Dial Restaurant, 210 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 98/A • Zest, 957 Canton St., Roswell. 87/B
Gwinnett County restaurant inspection scores

Gwinnett County • Lazeez Tava Fry, 4650 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross. 100/A • New Dragon Chinese Restaurant, 5450 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners. 100/A • Schlotzkey’s Austin Eatery, 2260 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Duluth. 94/A • Teriyaki Box, 1766 Old Norcross Road, Lawrenceville. 96/A • Thai Star Restaurant, 5370...
DNA links Cobb County man to 3 rapes dating back to 2006, police say

A man who has served five sentences in state prison is behind bars again, this time accused of three rapes dating back to 2006. DNA evidence links Christopher Charles Sanders, 51, to the crimes, police say. Georgia Department of Corrections records show Sanders began serving prison time in August 1989. Ten years later, he was in the middle of his fourth...
Forsyth County restaurant inspection scores

Forsyth County • Buffalo’s Café, 1175 Buford Highway, Cumming. 87/B • Decker’s, 560 Lakeland Plaza, Cumming. 89/B • Main Moon, 7766 McGinnis Ferry Road, Suwanee. 97/A • Taqueria La Rosita, 337 Dahlonega St., Cumming. 80/B • Taqueria Los Hermanos, 3245 Peachtree Parkway, Suwanee. 94/A
Gridlock Guy: I-85 in Gwinnett was plain cursed last week
Gridlock Guy: I-85 in Gwinnett was plain cursed last week

Have you ever had one of those days? That’s rhetorical, because everyone has. Nothing seems to go right and the problems happen in succession. Then those trials cause more issues. Before you know it, you’re saddled with an inconceivable and seemingly insurmountable entanglement of logistical (and probably emotional) baggage. Come sit on...
More Stories