Atlanta Council Begins Review of MARTA Half-Penny Tax Projects, Infrastructure Tax Projects

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felicia moore the voice of reason(APN) ATLANTA — The City Council of Atlanta is now beginning the process of preparing to review two proposed project lists–one for MARTA and one for infrastructure projects–for two possible upcoming voter referenda on a half-penny sales tax.

 

If voters approve both measures on November 08, 2016, the sales tax would increase by one percent in the City of Atlanta.  Thus, if the current Education SPLOST penny is renewed as expected on May 24, 2016–then the City of Atlanta sales tax could jump from the current eight percent, to as high as nine percent.

 

The current eight percent includes a penny that Atlanta voters already pay for MARTA.

 

The Georgia Legislature approved these possible referenda during this year’s Legislative Session, by way of SB 369.

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2016/03/29/apn-general-assembly-2016-wrap-up-part-2-things-that-passed/

 

Despite the regressive nature of sales taxes and the already-high rate, the City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Office is taking the position that this is one of the biggest opportunities to expand transportation in Atlanta in many years.

 

MARTA has released its wish list of projects for its possible half-penny, which the City is now considering. (See below)

 

Meanwhile, the City will be preparing its infrastructure improvement list for the other referenda, which, by law, could either be a half-penny or quarter-penny, although the City will likely pursue the half-penny, given the unmet infrastructure needs.

 

At the May 11, 2016 meeting of the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee, Melissa Mullinax gave a presentation about the administration’s proposed process for public and Council engagement around the two referenda.

 

The Council would have to adopt two resolutions by June 30, 2016, for the two referenda to be placed on the November ballot, she noted.

 

Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) said she wants to see a large portion of the money to be set aside for Council Districts, so that each district can come up with its own list of projects through community input.

 

Moore noted that this was done in a previous Quality of Life Bond, and, to a lesser extent, in the recent Renew Atlanta Bond.

 

“Colleagues… I would just put a seed in your mind that we want to fully engage… in making sure that allocations… that the Council Districts look to making sure that we have more control over deciding and working with our communities on deciding what those projects are,” Moore said.

 

Chairwoman Yolanda Adrean (District 8) also raised a concern about the City’s staffing capacity to administer that many transportation projects, saying that the City was clearly not ready

 

Mullinax said the staff of the City’s Planning Department would be putting together a list, and presenting it to the Council.

 

“I think it’s incumbent upon you all to come and talk to us about the list,” Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12) said.  “And don’t just present something to us and say here’s the list.”

 

“As a Council, I think that we should also be apprised of what you all looking at the list, so I can say, no that’s not what I want, that’s what we want… Are we going to have input in the list?  And are we going to have time?” Sheperd said.

 

Moore said that she wants to see the full lists of infrastructure needs, and not the City’s chosen list.

 

“The Council needs to come up with what are our Guiding Principles for this… I don’t want the list that the Administration culls together, looking at all the list of needs… to the see what you’ve culled it down to,” Moore said.

 

“You may not be aware of all the pressing needs in the community… I was speaking to the policymakers – This is our chance to make policy.  The thing is, if I’m gonna go out in the community and talk about this… I want to be able to answer… If we don’t have a project list that speaks to the needs of the community, they may not vote for it,” Moore said.

 

MARTA WISH LIST

 

MARTA released its wish list on the same day, May 11, 2016.

 

If approved by voters, the new one half cent sales tax is expected to produce some 2.5 billion dollars in revenue through 2057, when the tax will expire.

 

MARTA’s wish list includes several high capacity improvements, including:

 

  • I-20 East Bus Rapid Transit

 

  • I-20 West Heavy Rail Transit – line extension

 

  • Northside Drive Bus Rapid Transit

 

  • Atlanta light rail transit, including the Atlanta beltline, and two new routes called the Orange and Purple Lines.

 

  • Clifton Corridor Light Rail Transit

 

In addition, MARTA has proposed new infill stations, rehabilitation of existing stations, new bus routes, and pedestrian improvements.

 

UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

A Work Session with the Administration and City Council will be held tomorrow, May 19, 2016, at 11am.  At this Work Session, the Administration will present a revised MARTA list, that will contain both additions and deletions, Mullinax told Atlanta Progressive News.

 

Also, Public hearings have been scheduled as follows:

 

Northside Atlanta

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

6:30 to 8:30pm

Passion City Church

515 Garson Dr NE, 30324

Located one block south of the Lindbergh Center MARTA Station

Free parking is located on site.

 

Westside Atlanta

Thursday, May 26, 2016

6:30 to 8:30pm

Adamsville Recreation Center

3201 ML King Jr Dr NW, 30311

Directly accessible via MARTA #73 bus service.

Free parking is located on site.

 

Southside Atlanta

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

6:30 to 8:30pm

Rosel Fann Recreation Center

365 Cleveland Ave SE, 30354

Directly accessible via MARTA #78 bus service.

Free parking is located on site.

 

Eastside and Central Atlanta

Thursday, June 2, 2016

6:30 to 8:30pm

Helene Mills Senior Center

515 John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE, 30312

Directly accessible via MARTA #3 bus service.

Free parking is located on site.

 

(END/2016)

One comment

  • Vote down these sales tax increases because we already pay too much in sales taxes—8 percent in the city of Atlanta. These taxes go on everything you spend including electricity, phone, Internet, cable TV, and natural gas. My estimate is $5000 per year for each home owner. This one cent sales tax will amount to $500 per year.

    We can count on the city of Atlanta to squander this money as they have been foolishly spending money the past 7 years under Mayor Reed. Billions will be spent on 19th century street cars which can be replaced by modern buses costing less than 1 percent the cost. More money will be spent on “sustainability” which is the code word for following President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

    James H. Rust, professor of nuclear engineering

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