Published on September 17th, 2014 |1
Councilwoman Moore seeks debt affordability study before city seeks $250 M infrastructure bond
The legislation was co-sponsored by City Councilmembers Mary Norwood, Yolanda Adrean, Howard Shook and Alex Wan, who all represent part of Buckhead, and Andre Dickens, Ivory Lee Young, Jr. and Natalyn
The city of Atlanta faces an infrastructure backlog of more than $900 million. To address the city’s pressing infrastructure challenges with city roads, bridges, sidewalks and upgrades critical public buildings and facilities, the administration of Mayor Kasim Reed is proposing a $250 million infrastructure bond referendum to pay for many of the needed repairs and improvements.
The administration intends to use a combination of savings recommended by the Commission on Waste and Efficiency in Government and the sale of certain city of Atlanta assets to pay for the bonds.
“I feel that the City Council should be fully aware of the financial impacts of approving a bond issue of this magnitude,” Moore said. “Therefore a financial feasibility or debt affordability study should be performed prior to the approval of legislation authorizing the bond referendum for the issuance of any bonds.”
Moore said the study will provide a basis for measuring the impact of future debt issuances on the city’s financial position and enable policy makers to make informed decisions on financing alternatives and capital spending priorities.
Prior to a bond referendum, the Atlanta City Council must vote to authorize an election to be held for the purpose of determining whether bonds shall be issued for the stated amount and purpose.
Moore’s legislation was referred to the Finance Committee for discussion at its 1 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at Atlanta City Hall, Committee Room No. 2.
Dist. 9 Councilwoman Moore has been in the news a lot recently as she has challenged Mayor Reed and his administration over bonuses she claims the mayor illegally gave to city department heads and employees and related to issues that have come to the forefront regarding the management of the city’s Public Works and Watershed Management departments.
Moore and Post 2 At-Large Councilwomen Mary Norwood both attended the monthly meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Sept. 11 and touted the recent “flurry of audits” that revealed, among other
things, missing inventory and relevant unethical practices.
The Public Works Department is missing more than $2 million of inventory—most of it being missing asphalt—and Watershed Management cannot account for thousands of water meters, including industrial water meters that cost almost $6,000 each, a $85,000 backhoe machine and other missing inventory items.
“It’s not pleasant when you find out people are stealing and that controls are not there, but it’s really important to know,” said Norwood. “You don’t get it better until you know what the problem is. We are trying to fulfill our responsibility to provide that oversight so that things do get shorn up. There are just some big gaps in some of the departments,” she added.
Moore also addressed council members’ intent to request an audit targeting the city’s payroll issues.
“We had one back in 2006, so it’s time to do one again in light of all the payouts and all the other things you’ve read in the media,” Moore said. “We have to brace ourselves for whatever. I think an audit is good, but it’s only as good as the follow-up and follow-through.”
Norwood also urged residents to educate themselves about the implications of the city’s ongoing 2015 infrastructure public information hearings. She said visiting the website — www.atlantaga.gov/infrastructure — is a vital step toward that end.
“You will see a map that will show you where the projects are,” Norwood told the BCN audience. “It is very important for you to communicate with your friends and colleagues and let them know they really need to look at that map and log in your opinions.”
The first round of meetings cumulatively drew about 300 people across the entire city. The second round of meetings have already begun. The only remaining second-round meeting in Buckhead is Sept. 30, 6-8 p.m. in the Callaway Auditorium at Piedmont Hospital’s Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road NW.
“We have over 400,000 people in the city and we had [only] 300 people give their ideas. … Very few from Buckhead showed up,” Norwood said. “We’ve got a lot we need to do out here and traffic did not even come up on the radar,” she added.
“So what we’ve got is a lot of bike lane and pedestrian people [advocating]. We don’t have what this part of town needs most, which is traffic management,” Norwood told the NCA audience.