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County to create project list regional sales tax could fund

LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett’s leaders will soon have a role in creating a list of transportation projects that a regional sales tax could fund.

Officials from the Atlanta Regional Commission explained a process likely to begin after the first of the year, when a $7 billion project list would be developed for voters to consider the 1 percent regional tax in 2012.

“It creates an opportunity for substantially improved transportation funding,” Tom Weyandt of the ARC said in a presentation to Gwinnett commissioners and civic leaders.

Weyandt said the project list could be the key to public support for the tax, and officials have an incentive to work together because the required local match for state transportation funding would increase if the list is not improved or voters reject the tax.

“The big important thing is we know what we are up against when we go to the polls in 2012,” said Gwinnett Chairman Charles Bannister, who will sit on a roundtable group charged with creating the list. “It’s a long battle, and understanding is No. 1.”

Commissioner Bert Nasuti said he is against a raise in taxes in general, but likes the idea of putting the issue on ballots.

“It’s probably a step in the right direction,” he said. “It’ll be up to voters to decide.”