Published on November 13th, 2015 |6
Mayor Reed defends his veto of city funds for Moores Mill Rd. project
Moores Mill Road using $800,000 of city transportation impact fees.
Buckhead City Council members Yolanda Adrean and Mary Norwood each said Thursday night that they had received about 100 emails from irate city residents about the mayor’s veto. The
mayor’s office likely received a similar number or more.
The letter, which was sent to BuckheadView.com at 5:37 p.m. on Nov. 12—as the editor was leaving to cover a meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods—states that $2 million in federal highway funds were released for the project in May, 2015.
In his letter, Mayor Reed takes credit for all things good that have happened in northwest Atlanta for decades—long before he came into office.
The following is the full content of the letter Mayor Reed sent to BuckheadView.com:
I am committed to the revitalization of northwest Atlanta communities that have been underserved and neglected for decades.
The promise of the Perry Bolton TAD, established in 2002, had gone unrealized and the vote taken by the Atlanta Development Authority in December 2007 to fund the Moore’s Mill Village redevelopment through the TAD was little more than wishful thinking until my Administration engaged the issue and determined to fight the necessary legal battles to validate and issue $21,000,000 in bond funds.
In addition to providing funding support to the West Highlands residential redevelopment, Bolton Village and construction of Fire Station #28, Perry Bolton TAD funding has been committed
for the following Moore’s Mill Village center projects:
a. CVS Pharmacy build-out – $300,000
b. Retail center/Publix – $4,700,000
c. Moore’s Mill Road extension – $500,000
Only through the work of my Administration has any progress been made on the Moore’s Mill Village redevelopment.
My veto of the legislation appropriating $800,000 in city funds to the Moore’s Mill Road Extension Phase 1 project was prompted by information supplied on Monday, Nov. 9 and Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 that $2,000,000 in federal funds had been authorized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in May 2015.
Further, at the city’s request, the FHWA funds were “flexed” into Federal Transit Administration funds, which require a smaller percentage in local matching funds.
Both the FHWA release of funds and the FTA’s approval of the city’s request to transition the funds to FTA dollars have several positive implications for this project and the city of Atlanta:
1. The Moore’s Mill Extension and the Adams Drive Re-alignment projects, at a cost of $2.2 million for both projects, are now both fully funded through the $2 million in federal funds and $500,000 in public funds from Invest Atlanta.
2. Use of federal funds allows the city to save local taxpayer dollars and local impact fees for use on projects that do not qualify for federal funds.
3. The city can access the federal dollars as early as January 2016 which has no negative impact on the current construction schedule provided by Eden’s, the developer of the mixed-use development. (See chart below)
Since 2010, my Administration has leveraged approximately $157 million in federal dollars to support the city of Atlanta. Failure to fully utilize funding support from our federal partners is wasteful, compromises future funding opportunities and represents a dereliction of duty on behalf of any elected official.
Mayor Kasim Reed
The letter issued by Mayor Reed probably raises as many questions as it answers.
First, if the funds were released by the Federal Highway Administration in May of this year, why is the mayor’s office and the city Administration just finding out about that on Nov. 9 and 10? Is this Administration so inept that there is no one tracking a grant of $2 million?
Second, if the city did indeed know that the money had been released in May by the FHA, why has everyone been jumping through all these hoops for the past several months attempting to find a way to fund this road extension? Could it have been the playing out of petty politics?
Third, both this Moores Mill Shopping Center redevelopment project and the Perry Bolton TAD—and its funding of West Highlands, Bolton Village and construction of Fire Station #28—were all in the process long before Kasim Reed became mayor and the Georgia Supreme Court, not Reed, got the funds released for those projects.
Fourth, Invest Atlanta, of which Reed is chairman of the board, did not agree to spend $500,000 on the Moores Mill Road extension project at this time. It agreed to release just $300,000 for that project now and hold onto $200,000 for future parts of the project.
Fifth, the timeline chart provided by Reed’s Administration shows that the road extension could possibly be completed by two months after the Publix supermarket is completed and ready to open. What are people supposed to do for two months, hike through mud to get to the store?
And, finally, everyone knows that no project planned and executed by the city of Atlanta—especially the Department of Public Works—is ever completed on time. In fact, it never comes close to following its own timeline. Furthermore, the federal government will be involved in every step and even further mucking up the schedule. It is their money and they have the say.
Editor’s Commentary: City Council needs to either override the veto by Mayor Reed and plan to move forward with use of the $800,000 to get the road extension built by South Carolina developer Edens Company, who can no doubt accomplish it all on one coordinated schedule; or adopt enabling legislation that has an absolute date included for when the project is to move forward with the $800,000 from transportation impact fees if federal funds are not in hand.
At any rate the time for City Council to trust the Mayor’s office on this matter is over. Put it in writing and with absolutes. The residents of northwest Atlanta absolutely deserve no less.