LAWRENCEVILLE -- Transit was the hottest topic at a Gwinnett town hall meeting on a proposed regional transportation sales tax.
But the crowd of more than 200 was split on whether or not public transportation should make the cut on the $6 billion list of projects.
"We need rail. We need transit," said Sherry Blackwood, who said she rarely goes to Atlanta anymore except using the MARTA system. "The people stuck in (Interstate) 85 traffic can't be here."
But Ron Williams disagreed. "We don't need rail lines in Gwinnett. We need additional police officers and firefighters," he said.
Some people talked about wanting their kids to be able to walk to school or have an alternative to driving to the college campus, but others said their distrust for government officials means they won't be supporting the proposed sales tax, which will be on ballots next year.
"It is a tax increase, and in this environment, it will be a very bad sell," Jef Fincher said, adding that he believes the sales tax has its advantages as well.
The key, he said, are the projects.
"If (soon-to-be HOT lanes) are the types of solutions that come out of this, I can't support this," he said.
After Monday's hearing, Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, a member of the regional roundtable that will finalize the list next month, said Gwinnett still has a way to go to win back public trust after last year's loss of the chairman and a commissioner in a land purchase scandal.
But Chuck Warbington, the director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, who has lobbied for a rail line along I-85 in Gwinnett, said the safeguards are in place in the sales tax legislation.
"You've got a specific list. You've got a specific timeline. What more could you ask for in regards to spending money," he said.
Nash said the public comments, which are also being gathered in a survey at www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com, which be beneficially in making a list that the public can vote for next July.
"Obviously, there is a wide range of opinions," she said.