Cobb commissioners approve $287K contract for outreach on transit referendum

image with a bus and train with the text Public Transit

by Caleb Groves

At its Tuesday meeting, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved paying a consultant for the public outreach campaign for the 2024 transit ballot referendum.

Cobb Transportation Director Drew Raessler proposed to the board $287,000 for Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. to create a public outreach campaign for the upcoming 30-year special purpose local sales tax referendum planned for November.

If approved, the plan would create bus rapid transit routes and arterial rapid transit routes. Additionally, the plan would increase the number of bus stops, commuter routes, and transfer centers and expand micro and paratransit options across the county.

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Cumberland Community Improvement District and the Town Center Community Improvement District donated $100,000 ($50,000 each) to help cover the $287,000 outreach campaign.

To fund this project, the county will create a 30-year 1% Mobility Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Cobb County.

“I understand we have to have public meetings and educate the public for the referendum, but I can’t support spending general fund money to go to the potential SPLOST project,” Birrell said.

The BOC voted 3-2 to approve the measure, with Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Keli Gambrill in opposition.

Background

The following reprint from the Board of Commissioners agenda packet gives background and context to the decision:

House Bill 930 (O.C.G.A. §§ 48-8-269.40 to 48-8-269.58) of the 2018 Session of the Georgia General
Assembly (House Bill 930) allows the County to develop a referendum to levy a sales tax in increments up to 1 percent to be used for transit capital and transit operational expenses, for a duration of up to 30 years.


On November 17, 2022, the Board of Commissioners authorized staff to proceed with development of a project list for a 2024 Mobility Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (MSPLOST) ballot referendum for November 2024, per House Bill 930.


On December 12, 2023, the Board adopted a resolution accepting the Cobb County MSPLOST – Proposed
Program of Projects, authorizing staff to proceed with development of a MSPLOST ballot referendum for
November 2024, and authorizing submission of proposed CobbLinc transit projects to the Atlanta-Region
Transit Link Authority (ATL) for consideration as an amendment to the ATL Regional Transit Plan update.


To effectively prepare for a 2024 MSPLOST ballot referendum in accordance with House Bill 930, it is
necessary to educate the public about the proposed project list. The Department recommends contracting for transportation and transit planning services to support activities necessary for public education.


On December 12, 2023, the Board also approved a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Cumberland
Community Improvement District, in the amount of $50,000.00, for financial support related to 2024
MSPLOST public education, approved a MOA with Town Center Community Improvement District, in the
amount of $50,000.00, for financial support of the same, and authorized appropriation of the contributions totaling $100,000.00.

The Board also authorized a Fund Balance appropriation in the amount of $187,132.00 for County financial support of this project.


Project No. TR523-TO#2 to the 2022 Master Task Order Contract with Kimley-Horn, in an amount not to
exceed $287,132.00, is requested for planning services related to public outreach for an MSPLOST ballot
referendum for November 2024. The scope of services will include development of public education materials for in-person and online engagement and technical content for public education.

This Task Order will expire on December 31, 2024.


Project No. TR523-TO#2 to the 2022 Master Task Order Contract with Kimley-Horn has been reviewed by theCounty Attorney’s Office.the County

Caleb Groves is a Journalism student at Kennesaw State University, where he is a junior.

Originally from Minnesota, Caleb moved to Georgia with his family, where he now lives in Woodstock with his Father, Stepmom and numerous pets.

When he is not in writing, in class or coaching rock climbing, he spends his time listening to music and rock climbing both indoors and out

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