Still Feeling C-Tran Loss, Many In Clayton Support Transit Tax
The Clayton County Commission has until Sunday to decide whether to approve a November ballot measure that would raise the county sales tax by one percent for MARTA rail and bus service.
If no action is taken, the window for public transportation in Clayton would be closed at least for the next year.
Residents still frustrated over the loss of the county's C-Tran bus service in 2010 are anxious they may miss a major opportunity.
Earlier this week, a majority of Clayton commissioners said a one percent hike was too expensive. They worried about the cost of adding rail service and said a higher sales tax could drive away business.
But many in the community say a one percent sales tax is a small price to pay.
Christie Clark is a Riverdale resident and a mother of two – one heading to college, the other still in high school.
“My daughter was going to Georgia State to go to a law camp so I wanted her to ride transit because you get off at Georgia State. It’s right there and it’s so convenient. Well I didn't have the option to do that. It’s just really stifling us as a community.”
Clark said if MARTA is saying a full percent increase or nothing, then she fully supports the full percent increase.
“We’re missing jobs, we’re missing developments, our housing sucks. You can look at our community and see that we need something to bring growth,” said Clark.
The commission Tuesday voted for a plan calling for a half percent increase - enough for bus service only. However, MARTA said it’s either pay the same one percent amount as its other member jurisdictions - the city of Atlanta, and Fulton and DeKalb Counties - or get no service at all.
Additionally, MARTA reiterated its promise to only spend Clayton's sales tax revenue on transit within the county. Charles Eguavoen, a senior at Clayton State University, said the transit agency's promise makes the case even stronger.
“It’s not like the money is being taken from Clayton County and used to support services in Fulton County or whatever. The money stays in the county,” said Equavoen.
Rumana Haque, owner of Bulldog Insurance in Forest Park, urged commissioners to change their minds.
“I think they’re so out of touch with the mainstream. I’ve seen without the bus service how much people have suffered and how they’ve lost jobs and can’t get around. If there’s no other way, and this is the way to do it, I wish they would do it,” said Haque.
The commission meets Saturday to reconsider, with Sunday as the final deadline.