JONESBORO—The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted Jan. 21 to table the proposed 15th Amendment to its contract with MARTA.
Chairman Jeff Turner made the motion to move the resolution to the Feb. 4 agenda. Vice Chairman DeMont Davis seconded the motion.
The contract amendment, which requires approval from Clayton, Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta to go into effect, would extend Clayton County's SPLOST 1% sales tax from 2044 to 2054. MARTA officials say the move would allow them to issue bonds at a more favorable rate.
The Fulton County Commission voted unanimously to pass the 15th Amendment at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Clayton County commissioners have been reluctant to sign off on a deal that would have Clayton County dollars going into the pot unless it guarantees a commensurate level of services locally. MARTA points out that everyone who uses transit services benefits from the entire system's upkeep and expansion.
MARTA has been putting up shelters in Clayton County but not all stops can or will get shelters. MARTA also says it is planning a large bus repair, police and administrative facility for North Clayton County, although the exact site has not yet been chosen, as well as a small multi-line station next to the Harold Banke Justice Center that would be similar to MARTA rail stations where people can transfer from one bus to another.
While Clayton County bus shelters are separate from the contract's SPLOST money, the county has seen them as a sticking point in negotiations as residents wait in the rain and cold. Cities like Forest Park have provided benches at some MARTA stops, and Morrow has discussed the possibility of shelters with advertising.
Turner told the News that he and every other commissioner has met with MARTA on multiple occasions about the 15th Amendment.
"I personally asked for more definitive completion dates for the projects that we currently have on the books, route expansions and more shelters and trash receptacles. I truly expect that Clayton County will receive everything that the citizens voted for when we joined MARTA, and we as elected officials have to hold them accountable," he said.
"It is also my expectation that, whether or not the amendment passes, MARTA will stay true to the timeline notated in exhibit D of the proposed 15th Amendment."
MARTA needs three of the four jurisdictions to approve the amendment by Feb. 20 in order to move forward with projects like commuter rail for Clayton County.
MARTA spokesperson Stephany Fisher said, "A failure to pass the 15th Amendment would impact MARTA's ability to maintain a state of good repair on the current system and significantly diminish rail and bus expansion and improvement."