As reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, Athens-Clarke County’s citizens advisory committee has recommended some changes in the criteria for selecting transportation-related projects to be funded with a proposed 1 percent local sales tax.
Mayor Nancy Denson and the commissioners will consider the proposed changes but a final vote won’t come until the commission’s March 7 voting meeting.
Since last year, many county government departments, as well as citizens and local interest groups, have been creating proposals for funding consideration with the tax.
If approved, the tax is projected to raise $104.5 million during its five-year span, with collections beginning in May 2018. Of that total, $31.4 million would go to state and local projects already planned, leaving over $70 million for other projects. Winterville and Bogart will also claim a part of the tax proceeds.
One of the projects that could be in line for tax funding, a rail-trail multiple-use paved path across the eastern edge of the county, has provided evidence of its potential to boost economic development.
The QuikTrip gas station/convenience store chain is planning to build a new store off Oconee Street adjacent to the rail-trail, which is receiving some sales tax revenue under a previous local sales tax initiative.
Additional tax revenue could enhance plans for the rail-trail, which is slated to run from East Broad Street in downtown Athens through the city of Winterville along and near the old Georgia Railroad rail bed.
The local rail-trail could become part of a 39-mile paved multiple-use pathway that links Athens with the town of Union Point.
Finally, the amended goals also include instruction to “seek expansion opportunities” for alternative transportation amenities that serve people who walk, bike or use public transit to get where they need to go.
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