A Georgia lawmaker has a new plan for how to raise money to expand mass transit: let property owners near existing transit stations tax themselves.
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State Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, presented the idea at a meeting of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding this week.
“If the people in [those areas] wanted to self-tax, they could self-tax, and that [revenue] would be given to a commission who would then dedicate those funds to expanding rail,” Brockway explained.
Three-quarters of property owners located within a quarter-mile of an existing transit station — like a MARTA station — would have to agree to create the special tax district.
The revenues collected in the “transit rail improvement districts” would go to expanding rail mass transit.
Brockway thinks the idea will be attractive to property owners. He argues proximity to transit increases property values. Access to a more expansive transit system could make those values grow more.
“The people who ostensibly benefit from having transit in their area and have seen their property values increase because of that [can] help contribute more to the overall growth of the system,” Brockway said.
The model is also one that can grow. Brockway says he could see it expanding to cover the areas around planned transit stations.
He says the idea is inspired by the community improvement districts that have popped up around metro Atlanta in recent decades. Businesses in those districts pay self-imposed taxes to fund infrastructure projects.
Brockway introduced a version of his transit tax proposal in 2015, but it never made it out of committee. Legislators begin pre-filing legislation for the 2018 session this week.