Cherokee voters rejected participating in the proposed regional transportation referendum, or TSPLOST, with a vote of 79.49 percent, or 35,280 votes.
Those voting in favor were 20.5 percent, or 9,105 voters.
As of press time, the vote was trending to fail in the 10-county metro Atlanta region and in the majority of the 12 regions across the state.
Local leaders said the rejection of the proposal should signal to state leaders to come up with a better plan.
“I think this puts the onus back on the state legislators who worked so hard to defeat it in our county,” said Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques.
Henriques, along with County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens, had been serving as informational point persons on the proposed regional sales tax referendum.
Henriques said he didn’t expect the proposal to pass in the county, but noted voters should hold lawmakers’ “feet to the fire” to come up with a better plan.
Holly Springs Mayor Tim Downing agreed.
Downing, who initially served on the Atlanta Regional Roundtable that was tasked with finalizing a list of proposed projects, said he hopes the rejection “is not an end to the TSPLOST.”
Downing was initially in support of the plan, but later came out in opposition of the proposal.
He said the list of projects was not “responsible,” in his in opposition.
Along with Downing, other local leaders who’ve come out in opposition include Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) and state Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs).
The roundtable included the commission chairman and a mayor from each of the 10 metro Atlanta counties as well as the mayor of Atlanta, which compiled the list of projects.
The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 divided the state up into 12 regions and voters in each of those regions were to decide whether to impose a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects in their regions.
Eighty-five percent of the funding received was to be allocated to the specific projects outlined in the referendum.
The other 15 percent could have been allocated to local governments to spend on projects of their choosing.
The tax was expected to generate around $8 billion over the next decade in the region.
Projects in Cherokee County that were to be funded by the tax include the widening of Highway 140/Hickory Flat Highway between I-575 and the Fulton County line and replacing the bridge on Bells Ferry Road over Lake Allatoona.
The Highway 140 widening would have cost around $190 million and the bridge project was expected to cost about $7 million.
About $279 million of the tax was predicted to be generated in Cherokee and $268.5 million of that was estimated to remain in the county.