A major transit funding bill has now been signed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
Deal signed House Bill 930 on Thursday.
The bill creates the state-level Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority – The ATL – which provides a new structure for coordinated transit planning and funding for the 13-county metro-Atlanta region, which includes Coweta.
The ATL will develop a regional transit plan and identify and prioritize projects and initiatives to enact the plan. The legislation is in addition to $100 million in bonds that Deal put in the fiscal year 2019 budget to fund public transit.
HB 930 allows counties in the region to implement sales taxes to fund transit. The taxes can be fractional – less than 1 percent – and can last for up to 30 years.
The transit tax would be different than the current Special Purpose Local option Sales Tax that exists in Coweta and many other counties. A SPLOST is a 1 percent tax that lasts for up to six years.
The bill also sets out a way that counties – or portions of counties – can choose to become part of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
“The initiatives set forth in this legislation will supplement our efforts to build an effective transportation network for the 13 counties covered by the ATL and provide new options to get Georgians to their places of employment, community activities and homes to spend time with family more quickly and efficiently,” Deal stated in a bill signing press release.
Deal expressed his gratitude to the Georgia General Assembly for passing the bipartisan legislation.
Projections show the metro area adding another 2.5 million residents by 2040, Deal said.
"HB 930 recognizes this growth and provides a coordinated, streamlined and unified approach to prepare for the future of metro Atlanta and the surrounding communities,” Deal said. “With the establishment of the ATL, we are taking another significant step to ensure that our modes of transit and mobility are worthy of the No. 1 state for business and the best place for opportunity."
The ATL will be attached to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, and will have 16 members. Ten members will represent 10 new, specially created transit districts. By 2023, the bill calls for all transit in the area to be rebranded to The ATL.