Published on February 21st, 2016 |0
One-Cent Tax is MOST Important for Atlanta’s Water System
Each day, the City of Atlanta supplies clean drinking water to more than one million people, including those passing through the world’s busiest airport. On March 1, Atlanta voters will decide whether to reauthorize a critical measure that has provided significant infrastructure improvements all over the city. To date, the Municipal Option Sales Tax (MOST) has provided more than $1 billion towards water and sewer projects and accounts for more than 20 percent of the Department of Watershed Management’s annual revenue.
Since 2004, the penny sales tax on commonly purchased goods has allowed the City to share the cost of the infrastructure work with commuters and visitors who use the City’s water and sewer system every day, but do not pay water bills as do our residents and business owners. The MOST has allowed us to maintain current water and sewer rates by decreasing the burden of the City’s infrastructure needs on the 400,000 residents that live within City of Atlanta boundaries. Without this funding, residents and business owners could see their water and sewer bills increase by as much as 30 percent.
Because of the MOST, we have dramatically reduced both the number and volume of sewer spills, significantly decreased the number of rain-induced overflows into Atlanta’s rivers and streams and completed major projects including the two-acre stormwater detention pond in Old Fourth Ward Park and construction of the Nancy Creek and South River tunnels.
After the MOST was reauthorized in 2012, we accomplished more major consent decree milestones. The Peachtree Capacity Relief project and citywide sewer rehabilitation were completed $50 million under budget and before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s July 1, 2014 deadline.
Under the sewer rehabilitation consent decree requirement, Watershed Management inspected 1,600 miles of the City’s sewer lines and repaired more than 119 miles of lines, significantly reducing sewer spills.
If authorized for the fourth time, up to 10 percent of MOST revenue can be used for stormwater improvements, allowing the City to improve water quality, create public amenities, address localized flooding and stormwater asset repair and replacement needs. One need to only look at the ponds the Historic Fourth Ward Park or the permeable pavers that have been installed in Peoplestown, Mechanicsville and Summerhill to see the benefits of effective stormwater management.
Under Mayor Kasim Reed’s leadership, one of the greatest missions of the department is to ensure that we continue to provide citizens with clean, safe and reliable drinking water by protecting our fresh water sources. If approved, the MOST will safeguard funding to uphold our high drinking standard for many years to come.
This vote is not only important for the residents of Atlanta, but all those that work, visit and travel through the City each day. A yes vote for the MOST is a yes to ensuring Atlanta as a water utility of the future.
Jo Ann J. Macrina, P.E.
City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management