City Council News

Published on December 31st, 2014 |

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Council may OK Jan. 5 a March vote on infrastructure bonds

The Atlanta City Council is expected to approve Monday legislation authorizing a citywide referendum in March on a $250 million infrastructure bond issue, with a proposed project list that Buckhead council members believe is fairer now for the community than it was last spring.

The bond, which will pay for maintenance and replacement of roads, bridges, traffic signals and park facilities, now includes $5.1 million in discretionary funds for each of the city’s 12 council districts, a change with which Buckhead’s representatives on the council said they were pleased.

During his inaugural address last January, Reed said “We still have some very large infrastructure challenges we are compelled to address right away. This bond referendum will expand our greenspaces, and improve our roads, bridges and

Mayor Kasim Reed

Mayor Kasim Reed

sidewalks, and we are going to ask the people of Atlanta for their full support,” he added.

“We are going to make the most significant single investment in modern times to improve the look, feel and experience of the city above the ground,” the mayor stated.

If approved by the council, the referendum will take place March 17. Buckhead’s representatives now apparently support the bond issue, which will only pay for a quarter of the estimated $1 billion in needed infrastructure repairs citywide.

Seventy-two percent of the bond issue projects are citywide projects and the rest are district-specific. They will be paid for by increasing the bond millage rate and Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration plans also to use a combination of savings recommended by the commission on waste and efficiency in government and the sale of certain city assets.

Dist. 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, who represents Buckhead west of Peachtree and Roswell roads, has been reported as saying the city also intends to pay for the bond with expected higher tax revenues in

Yolanda Adrean

Yolanda Adrean

2015 and beyond due to an improved economy.

The city’s website, as of late December listed 304 proposed projects, costing $335 million, but a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said it was out of date. The highest-priced item was $25 million to replace and install American Disabilities Act-compliant ramps citywide and the lowest priced at $9,270 each for 21 school intersections to get flashing yellow lights.

Dist. 7 Councilman Howard Shook, who represents most of Buckhead east of Peachtree and Roswell roads, recently told the board of the Buckhead CID that since the original project list was made, council members have made progress with the mayor’s office on getting more equity for their council districts, and he expects the list to change some between now and March.

City Councilman Howard Shook

Howard Shook

He said he hopes to get improvements at major intersections along Peachtree and Roswell roads, which his district shares with Adrean’s, added to the project list.

Dist. 9 Councilwoman Felicia Moore, who represents a sliver of far west Buckhead, hopes to get funding for the roads not paved or repaired during the last infrastructure bond that occurred during the Bill Campbell and/or Shirley Franklin administrations in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when those funds ran out.

Post 2 At-Large Council-woman Mary Norwood, who lives in Buckhead and represents the entire city, has consistently said she hopes the city thoroughly analyzes each item on the project list before it is finalized, to make sure it is beneficial to all Atlanta residents and visitors.

Shook has also said he hopes his proposed ordinance to require that a small percentage of the annual budget include infrastructure repairs and maintenance will also be approved by the council–possibly as early as Monday’s meeting.

Shook’s legislation originally set the amount at 2 percent, which would be $11.4 million for fiscal 2015, but that amount has been raised to 3.5 percent in the bill after he received input from fellow council members. On Dec. 10 it was sent from the Finance Committee to the full council for consideration.

The City Council has not attempted to enact this type of legislation in the past because of the reduced revenues caused by the recession. But the timing might be right now because the city’s reserves are now up to $135 million to $140 million.

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