TRANSIT TAX OPPOSITION: A coalition is forming to oppose Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid’s 30-year, $11 billion transit-tax referendum, which is on the ballot this November, Lance Lamberton, president of the Cobb County Taxpayers Association, told the Cobb County Republican Party, during its monthly breakfast on Saturday.
The bad news, Lamberton told the crowd, is that Cupid and fellow Democratic Commissioners Jerica Richardson and Monique Sheffield, have allocated $187,000 from the county’s general fund to use for an “education campaign” to pass the tax. Combine that with the $100,000 the Cumberland and Town Center community improvement districts provided the county for that purpose, and the campaign already has $287,000 to spend.
“So they already have campaign coffers of $287,000, which they claim, and the reason they justify, is they say ‘This is just an educational effort. This is just an attempt to let the people know what this is all about,’” Lamberton said. “Listen, I’ve been down this road before, and I know darn well that what they want to do is propagandize and try to put the transit tax in the best possible light. So we have our work cut out for us.”
(Residents will recall how the CIDs also provided “education” funding during the ill-fated 2012 T-SPLOST referendum, which sought to convince voters in the 10-county metro region to pay an additional 1% sales tax for transportation over a 10-year period. Voters rejected that proposal. And the CIDs were accused of using the money for propaganda, not for education, at the time.)
Lamberton told the Cobb GOP crowd that even with the current $287,000 kitty, Cupid still believes it’s not enough for her education effort, and may just be a “down payment.”
“Now, if the idea of your tax dollars, $187,000 going toward this so-called education campaign, if you’re not angry about it, then you’re at the wrong party,” he said.
The good news, Lamberton said, is that a coalition has formed, including his Cobb Taxpayers Association; the Cobb GOP, which has passed a resolution opposing the tax; the Franklin Roundtable, which formerly went by the name of the Georgia Tea Party; and the local chapter of the Association of Mature American Citizens, a conservative alternative to AARP.
“So we’re starting to meet on a regular basis and we’ve got a steering committee,” he said.
Lamberton said another positive is that the commission’s two Republicans, JoAnn Birrell and Keli Gambrill, are opposed to the tax, which would be a big help in getting the message out in their districts.
But Lamberton said funding was needed if tax opponents were to counter the county’s messaging.
“Let me tell you if this transit tax passes — we’re talking about $11 billion over 30 years — this will be the beginning of the end of Cobb County, OK? This will be the Californication of Cobb County. And I don’t want that to happen. Hopefully you don’t either,” he said.