2/28: DeKalb and sales tax referendum

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The DeKalb County NAACP has joined with some county commissioners in opposing the regional transportation sales tax referendum in July.

They are protesting the lack of an I-20 east rail line in the plans.

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis counters that the approved bus transit is a step in the right direction, and residents must pass the tax for there to be any hope of rail in the future.

What do you think?

21 comments Add your comment

Angry Albert

February 27th, 2012
6:24 pm

John Evans is a fine man and is correct in his analysis.

Vote no!!

Road Scholar

February 27th, 2012
6:45 pm

OK? What is your solution ? Are you ready to wait another 5 or so years to vote on another list that doesn’t have all the projects a certain group wants? The list of projects was vetted, public hearings held, and the regional leaders considered the data and input. Transit utilizes over 50% of the expected revenue.

That area of DeKalb was bailed out by the millage rate increase to balance the county budget. I said bailed out since the houses in SE Dekalb lost so much value and the millage increase only brought your tax bills back to the pre recession level , if to that level. The north and central part of the county paid for your deficit.

And you also want a convention center? What?


February 27th, 2012
8:46 pm

My vote = NO!!!! South Dekalb was not bailed out, but it was definitely hit hard. No complaints regarding my decision to purchase in south dekalb as that was a choice I made, a similar choice other owners made when they purchased in other areas. The fact of the matter is that south dekalb is part of the larger dekalb county which includes north and central dekalb. When one area is affected the others as well.


February 27th, 2012
10:57 pm

The solution is to add I-20 rail. The taxpayers of south DeKalb pay a sales tax to support the rail along 400 and the the train to Hartsfield. They also pay federal taxes that built the highways/infrastructure that made economic development possible for north and central DeKalb. I am voting NO!

Shark Punch!

February 27th, 2012
11:29 pm

I happened to catch WABE’s interview with John Evans today, and he didn’t seem to have much of a clue about anything. A whole bunch of bitterness and no real solutions, “I can’t get my way, so nobody else should!”

When asked why this was a racial issue and not a geographic one, Evans basically suggested that everything is a racial issue on some level. That should tell you all you need to know.


February 28th, 2012
12:12 am

The people of south Dekalb have been getting ripped off since the late 70’s. People in Lithonia have been paying the same 1 cent sales tax as the rest of Dekalb, and yet they have NO TRANSIT WHATSOEVER. It’s really unbelievable that the council that chose what projects to fund had the audacity to think people in south Dekalb would now pay a 2% tax for transportation, and yet STILL HAVE NO TRANSIT. It’s blatant disrespect, and I hope the referendum fails miserably.

People who live on I-20 East from Wesley Chapel Road to Turner Hill Road have been paying a 1% Marta tax for over 30 Years!!! They want to tax south Dekalb so they can fund the Atlanta Beltline Real Estate Scam and downtown streetcars. All they had to do was include transit for the people who have been neglected off of I-20 East. People will not vote in favor of paying a 2% tax and only receiving bus stations, no transit. It’s not happening. South Dekalb is treated like a doormat- from the filthy, polluted South River to the multiple landfills dumped there. Now this? Hell no.


February 28th, 2012
1:41 am

So, funny that people in South DeKalb are complaining because they have been taxed for a service in another part of the county. Why don’t we open up the books and I bet North DeKalb has contributed a much larger share of the county budget than the Southsiders.


February 28th, 2012
7:58 am

This is the silliest thing I have seen in years. Plans for the I-20 line are just getting underway, the Tsplost projects lists has over $200 million in planning and engineering, and possibleyacq of ROW for stations. This starts the process in earnest and opens the line up for future FTA grants.

Kill the Tsplost and you kill all momentum for this line. You will set back the process by close to a decade…go ahead Evans, kill any chance you have of realizing your goal for this line.


February 28th, 2012
8:03 am

Hopefully everyone will vote no, and this inane approach will go away. Subways like NYC are 100% impossible to afford…and without stations “everywhere”, underground subway is of limited value. Buses are the right approach, and their routes can change over time as “traffic patterns” change.


February 28th, 2012
8:18 am

In my opinion, it is unfair to ask a community to pay additional taxes on projects that will not have a positive impact on said community. When others asked for rail service, it was granted.
If you treat everyone the same, whether they are wealthy, middle-class or poor, then great things can happen in our county.


February 28th, 2012
8:42 am

I live in north DeKalb and see no reason at all for the people in south DeKalb to vote in favor of TSPLOST. Why in the world would they want to vote yes for an additional sales tax? The I-20 line has been on the drawing board for years. The projects in DeKalb are all centered in a narrow western edge of the county that benefits Atlanta way more than it benefits DeKalb.

On the other hand if I lived in Atlanta I would be thrilled with the project list, Atlanta cleaned up. The Belt line funding was a great gift.

TSPLOST was probably going to need a strong majority yes vote in DeKalb to pass, no way that is going to happen. 2 cents makes no sense.

I will be joining my neighbors to the south, I’ll be voting NO.

too little time

February 28th, 2012
9:09 am

The situation in Dekalb is a microcosm of the whole problem with the TSPLOST. Essentially, population centers will be funneling taxes from the outer less populated areas to the more populated areas. People who live in north Cherokee, for example, will be paying for transit and will NEVER use it… ever. People who live in north Lumpkin or White will be paying for roads in Gainesville and their own counties that they will never drive on, and will not have any road that they DO drive on paid for by this tax. This is a tax that will be imposed by urban areas on the outlying suburban and rural areas, with no hope of it EVER benefiting those outlying areas and (the way it is structured) not enough voting power to ever get rid of it.

John Evans is right, but he fails to see that if he gets what HE wants, it does to the other outlying areas what he claims is being done to South Dekalb.

The fact is, there are simply not enough dollars to go around. I would bet that every single citizen of Georgia has a transportation corridor that could use improvement in order to make their lives better. But the TSPLOST is going to (mostly) improve those corridors in more populated areas. Unless some bargain can be reached such that the major transportation corridors of suburban and rural Georgia have a shot at those dollars some day, there is no reason for them to vote for this tax.


February 28th, 2012
9:26 am

Highways and byways will never solve the transportation problems here in Georgia. It has been that more and more interest has been place on “downtown” Atlanta where you have all of the major events – lack of parking and direct transportation to and from. How far and how wide should mass-transportation be intergrated and why not implement it as we say over the years that has mass transportation lost ground and who will benefit from it the most. County by county has lost in the efforts because more focus has been nothing but downtown Atlanta. HOT Lane is a flop and it is geared to make money from people when it should be free, toll roads and more hot lanes often don’t solve anything except for those leaving early getting to their jobs. In fact, there is a poor and unprofessional ways of making mass transportation fit the state of Georgia; forget talking about county to county or city to city. It has to be for the benefit of all and not focus on one particular area’s main city. With this economy, it won’t even matter; sad to say but we still trying to live in this “I got mine, we don’t want this over here, or keep them from coming here, or don’t make this or that for everyone.” So now we see how just how we really think about trying to solve transportation issues, its not benefiting anyone and yet, you want the citizens to pay more taxes and more for this and that. this world is big enough for people to live without being taxed so much for things that just don’t work. TSPLOST is a waste of time and tax payers money, stop bleeding us!


February 28th, 2012
10:01 am

Politics makes for some VERY strange bedfellows. Their are principled “NO” votes, and there are spoiled-child-didn’t-get-his/her-way “NO” votes. Oh well, good news is good news.


February 28th, 2012
10:28 am

The 1% assessment in TIA initiative, as described for the ten metro counties and represented by the Atlanta Regional Rountable should be voted down and abandoned. Things as they are now are better than the collection of $6.14 billion dollars in new taxes only to have the same or more horrific transportation nightmares ten years from now.

This Initiative is another course called Corruption 101. Politicians, connected asphalt contractors, engineers, lawyers, study groups and retinues of due diligence drones are about to make another killing at poor people’s expense. It would be excusable if the metro gridlocks from hell would end, but they will not.

Fact is that we do NOT need any more roads; maybe some computers to synchronize traffic and some smart systems to predict traffic and manipulate lights and so on, but not another dime on asphalt. Road encourages cars. Cars encourages petroleum. Petroleum encourages pollution. Pollution encourages death. Now new Roads; unless we are street dogs for the car industries and those who profit from tickets, insurance, accidents, and all the other mayhem we get out of the little steel boxes on the rubber wheels.

What we do need is MARTA trains wrapping the the Outer Loop and spiraling away to Smyrna, Convers/Covington, Douglasville, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Alpharetta, Jonesboro, and Austell. This is the only growth envelope left for this area. Everything else is a political stick up.


February 28th, 2012
10:38 am

No new roads; unless………………

Once Again

February 28th, 2012
12:24 pm

Regardless of where any of it goes, it is a bad idea. The government has already wasted far too much money on failed central planning. Central planning never works, and there is no better example of it than everything they have tried in Atlanta to date. The greatest transit project ever – the New York subway system – began as a fully privately funded venture that was only taken over by the government when all of the bugs had been worked out and they wanted to control people’s movements in the city. There is absolutely NO reason why govenrment must be involved in any of this kind of activity. They don’t have any money they don’t steal from us first, and if a private venture sells bonds and the people believe in the project or feel that it will make money, etc. they will support it. If not, too bad. What is the point of building trains nobody uses. Isn’t one massively unsustainable rail system in this city enough? Why make it worse with new additions?

Just vote NO. In this case the NAACP finally got a tax referendum stand correct (albeit for all the wrong reasons).


February 28th, 2012
1:15 pm

I’m voting no because a bunch of the billions will be wasted on real estate speculation rather than things that actually move people. Evans is downright silly, but I’ll take his no vote. He complains that less than 12% of the project list is in South Dekalb which probably has less than 10% of the population, a much lower % of the jobs in the metro area and probably less than 5% of the sales tax $ (all of Dekalb will generate only $800 million per Ellis)

His attitude, unfortunately, pervades the people who selected this list. They want their own pet projects for their favored constituency, whether it be developers or a population group. They aren’t looking at a cohesive plan that makes sense.

You should get what you pay for

February 28th, 2012
1:24 pm

We can all ride the new trolleys. I am voting NO because I’m fed up with our greedy irresponsible corupt system. Tolls on 400 still being collected. Everything ends up over budget & waste. Yes, traffic stinks and some say we may be losing prominent corporate presence bc of traffic. Thing is, small businesses employ a heckuva lot more people. The tax breaks & incentives for them are non-existent.

I just don’t want NAACP to be deluded to think bc the measure is voted down, that it is synonomous with support for them.


February 28th, 2012
10:58 pm

It’s not ‘just a penny” as some cost are passed on in property taxes and utilties for cost not covered by DOT. You are looking at the minimum of 15% increase in your bills. Vote No.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

March 1st, 2012
10:05 am

I definitely agree the TSPLOST isn’t the perfect list of projects but we have to start somewhere. If you folks don’t realize it by now, THERE WILL NEVER BE A “PERFECT” LIST THAT HAS EVERYONE’S WANTS AND NEEDS IN IT!!! I agree there should be heavy rail along I-20 from Garnett and Turner field, down I-20 to Stonecrest Mall and even to Conyers. South Dekalb should be upset but what is the alternative at this point. It is either vote yes and atleast have 225 million toward the 1 billion dollar project or have nothing toward this and complain until another transit project list is created? How long will that be? Another 40 years?! Think about it, is the federal government going to give any money toward a local project here if the locals don’t even support it? This is under democratic or republican leadership. Would you? I know I wouldn’t.

And as usual there is the localized thinking (i.e. too little time February 28th, 2012 9:09 am). This has nothing to do with that. This has to do with working as a region and coordination so that the region flows smoothly. So what if I lived in Cherokee and I’m assisting with a rail line in Dekalb that I may never use. Directly no it doesn’t impact me but indirectly it does. That rail line is going to move mass people and help create development. That will bring jobs to that area. When companies see that type of growth it makes them want to stay in the area. When companies see that type of investment it makes them want to come here. Other companies in the entire region see the same things and makes them invest more in the area. Why would a company leave a region just because their particular area isn’t developing, but there are major developments all around the region. That shows that the region as a whole is growing. That may bring a job that somewhere in one part of the region that a person who stays in another may apply for and get. Then you may have someone that lives in Cherokee using express buses and trains to get to that newly created job that came to South Dekalb, because we as a region invested in our transportation system.

There are a lot of people that want to vote everything down and have no resolutions. There are a lot of people that want for their area but say screw the rest of the region. How can anything get accomplished with those kinds of attitudes? It won’t be until YOUR job relocates to Charlotte or Raleigh or Dallas that you’ll understand the importance of investing in transportation and economic development.