Published on July 21st, 2016 |0
Council approves $358.3 million final project list for Nov. 8 TSPLOST referendum
The list had to be approved by the council by Aug. 8, when it must be submitted to the Georgia Department of Transportation. With the council going on recess Aug. 1-8, Monday’s meeting was the last one before Aug. 8 unless a special called meeting was held just to approve the list.
The tax, an additional four-tenths of 1 percent, is one of two voter referendums Atlanta residents will be casting ballots on in the Nov. 8 election. The other is for half of 1 percent, which will go to MARTA for improvements and other projects.
District 7 Councilman Howard Shook reportedly said another 10 percent of one cent was not added to the two taxes so the city would not hit 9 percent overall in its sales tax, capping it at 8.9 percent. At 8 percent, Atlanta currently has the highest sales tax of any municipality in Georgia.
The Atlanta tax is separate from Atlanta’s 20-year, $252 million Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond, approved by voters via a March 2015 referendum, to help pay for an estimated $1 billion backlog of improvements to roads and facilities in the city.
District 9 Councilwoman Felicia Moore, who represents part of Buckhead, voted no and District 11 Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms was absent. Moore said she voted against the project list for three reasons. “One was questioning our capacity to deliver on these projects with the other projects we already have with Renew Atlanta and to get the projects completed,” she said.
“Number two was the equity issue on how the money was spent or how projects were selected. I am not anticipating 100 percent equity, but most of the dollars should be spent as equally across the city and all districts as possible,” she explained.
Moore was unable to add any projects to the final list, but was able to add sidewalk installation and road paving and resurfacing to the $11 million allocated to trails in her district.
Even though she is opposed to the regressive nature of a sales tax, Moore supported the proposed MARTA transportation tax. “I feel there will be more benefit to the MARTA tax.”
Moore has said TSPLOST is a good thing overall, but she believes the BeltLine, which already generates revenue through a tax allocation district, does not need so much money from this new tax.
At Monday’s meeting, District 5 Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong amended the project list to include a placeholder under each category heading in order to clarify what each category or project would include.
Dist. 6 City Councilman Alex Wan indicated he is also happy with the projects in his district, including work on two important corridors, North Highland Avenue and Cheshire Bridge Road.
Wan reportedly said he is unsure how residents will feel about the city tax, plus the MARTA tax.
Post 2 at-large Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who lives in Buckhead but represents the entire city, has explained that the project list does have some flexibility.
“It is important to remember these are not bond projects. There can be some movement within these category lists,” she explaind. “If one street actually costs less, we can use some of those excess funds for something else. The idea is to use most of the money for the most important things in town.”
Norwood said she had asked the mayor’s office for more information on the $40 million traffic light signalization project, such as which roads would be affected, but did not get it.