July 16, 2008
Gwinnett Daily Post
By Camie Young
LAWRENCEVILLE – The second time was the charm for a referendum to allow the use of tax allocation districts for revitalization in Gwinnett. But voters have not changed their minds about extending Atlanta’s MARTA rail line into the suburban county.
Two years after striking down the idea, voters Tuesday gave a 58.74 percent to 41.26 percent nod to the funding method, which was used to construct Atlanta Station and revitalize the Marietta town center.
“What we’re seeing now is very positive,” said Chuck Warbington, the executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District. “We get to start working on Wednesday on what we need to do to start revitalization.”
A project to bring new life to the OFS plant site along Interstate 85 near Jimmy Carter Boulevard hinged on TAD funding, Warbington said.
In a tax allocation district, bonds are levied to fund infrastructure based on the anticipated increase in tax revenue when an area is revitalized.
“People are more educated (now),” Warbington said of the difference in this election, noting that nine local cities held successful TAD referendums last year. “People definitely understand the complex concept better.”
In nonbinding questions on party ballots, Democrats clearly supported the MARTA extension into Gwinnett, answering yes 10,675 to 4,656 no’s in the unofficial results.
Republicans – the majority of ballot-takers – thought otherwise. There, the no’s had it, 22,715 to 13,562.
“I felt like the straw poll was a little before it’s time,” Warbington said, “We don’t know how much it’s going to cost. We don’t know where it’s going to go.”
Warbington said his group was going to continue to work on a vision for mass transit in Gwinnett despite the outcome.