4/10: Is it July 31 yet?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Is it July 31 yet? The date of the metrowide referendum on the transportation special purpose local option sales tax can’t get here fast enough.

That goes for those in support of the project, which would bring $6.1 billion in traffic and transit improvements, and those opposed, who say the project list is misguided and/or inadequate.

What do you think?

9 comments Add your comment

Dumb and Dumber

April 12th, 2012
9:08 am

What’s wrong with this bill?

1. Funding lasts for only 10 years — that is not long enough to complete construction on major transit and road projects, even if the sales tax is to match federal dollars;

2. To get Federal funds for transit the project must be “fiscally constrained” — that means the state must demonstrate it can keep the projects running once constructed. Since there is no ongoing funding for transit in Georgia (besides the MARTA sales tax) any project put up the state for federal funds would lose out to other areas — there simply is no long term strategy;

3. The projects are poorly selected by a group of local pols — not transportation planners and engineers. No attempt to increase connectivity;

4. The annual failure by the legislature to resolve the “governance issue”, i.e., who is in charge of transit in Georgia means that GRTA will continue to run bus lines that compete with MARTA, Gwinnett and DeKalb County. Its an incredibly dim-witted situation that our legislature is incapable of solving;

5. The failure of the state to give MARTA a break on the arbitrary 50/50 split, and the ham-handed attempt by the legislature to take control of MARTA funding and give it to suburbanites and the state shows the contempt the GOP legislature has for transit — they don’t want it to work;

6. Nothing in the bill actually requires that the funds be spent on the listed projects. The legislature will have to vote to allow the sales tax revenue to be used as the voters intended — but that is not the way it works in Georgia. If there is any jurisdiction that the GOP legislature would gleefully divert sales tax to other uses — its Fulton and DeKalb County. Don’t try and say “well, they will be voted out if they do” — voters in Cobb, Gwinnett, South Georgia and the Mountains will always re-elect legislators who “stick it to Atlanta”.

I ride MARTA every day and have done so for 16 years. I also spent several years working on transportation funding issues in metro Atlanta in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when we had our funding crisis — the system was broke then and its even worse now (Enron-style accounting at GDOT, anyone? anyone?). I know a bit about this subject.

Sorry, I would vote for a good bill, but this is too flawed to support. I cannot stand the Tea-Party’s vilification of teachers, school employees, etc., or its stand on social issues, but I’m voting against this Turkey. Not because the Tea-Party is against it, but because its flawed, fatally flawed.

daisy the cloned sheep

April 11th, 2012
10:23 am

Two issues related to this is the ability for Marta to use its funds as it sees fit and for better state funding of Marta. With Marta being handcuffed, I’m not sure this additional tax will go where it is needed. Unfortunately, I think it will go towards more HOT lanes which are the worst way to treat the average citizen.

IMO, If you want better traffic in Atlanta, build I-485, expand light and heavy rail and build high speed rail service to other cities.


April 10th, 2012
4:36 pm

I would like to thank Mayor Haddix for demonstrating the intellectual incoherence of the opposition to the T-SPLOST. (Unintentionally, I suppose.) In a single paragraph he tells us that there isn’t enough transit funding in the plan (ignoring the fact that the amount in the plan is the “local match” for federal funding, something that metro Atlanta has been ineligible for all too often) and he tells us that transit is a bad idea anyway because people don’t need to go to offices anymore and sit at desks (which would apply, if it were true, to offices in Peachtree city, wouldn’t it?).

The plan recognizes that different parts of metro Atlanta have different needs, which is why there’s lots for roads and hardly any transit for Henry County, and lots of transit for Fulton and DeKalb. Now I’m going to say something to really shock the Atlanta bashers: we in the city of Atlanta pay taxes. We are net contributors to the state budget. We are tired of watching OUR tax dollars siphoned off to rural areas. We want some of OUR tax dollars spent, where WE live, on projects WE endorse in OUR city. Mayor Haddix, why do you hate us so much that you would deny us such a simple and just result?


April 10th, 2012
12:30 pm

I read the comments in the paper today – and found the column by the Mayor of the sovereign state of Peachtree City most interesting. I guess he’s running for local re-election.
He would be totally correct in his views if one thing was true: the mere existence of his community had absolutely nothing to do with Atlanta, nothing at all.
If the Atlanta area continues to collapse due to congestion, do you really think that those companies that chose to locate in his community will opt to hang around? Really???
Sure, the project list could be better, but for the health of the region, we need to stop thinking within our own little boxes, and consider that the regional economic health is at stake. If these improvements are rejected due to myopic vision of individual communities, the area will soon start running in to the proverbial brick wall. That will take us all down, including those with short sighted views.

The Truth

April 10th, 2012
10:11 am

This referendum is the first time this region has come together for the good of the region. Of couse the tea baggers are against this and any tax. Their motto is just like the Libertarians: No tax, no government, no nothing. And they dont’ know how to compromise and they want it their way or the highway (so to speak). When all else fails, dont’ worry about the truth; they will resort to lies to get their way. One day the Republican party will realize how they are being destroyed and kick them to the curb where they belong. But the RTR is OUR oppertunity to help ourselves. Our State elected lawmakers didn’t have the anatomy to solve traffic congestion but our locally elected officials did. They did their part in creating a balanced project plan. Now it is our responsibility to help ourselves and implement that plan.

For It

April 10th, 2012
9:15 am

I have studied it all carefully and I am excited that we have progressed this far and am hopeful that it will move forward. It is so sad to watch political debating over something so important. It may not be perfect, but it is so past due that we cannot waste more time. We are losing the battle to other cities. Also, it is the first truly regional effort we have seen. Let’s not put on blinders and say it is only a tax. Let’s not be so judgmental about something that so much bipartisan effort has gone into.

Road Scholar

April 10th, 2012
6:55 am

SAWB: The top 3 and the last of your list IS in the law and, if they are not met, we will never have another referendum on the Trans sales tax. The 4th item should be policed by a citizen’s group.

The list put together for each of the state’s trans regions were put together by the Metro Planning Org- professional planners and engineers in transportation- and run by the local governments and voters. The projects were scored in many categories including those you list. The planners, engineers, and implementers a$$ is on the line to deliver! What more do you like? Death squads?


April 9th, 2012
9:49 pm

Voting to give politicians more of our money is like a chicken voting Col. Sanders…


April 9th, 2012
9:33 pm

If the tax would end as promised.
If the projected cost would not increase.
If the timeline would not increase.
If politically connected cronies would not become wealthy at our expense.
If it would really improve quality of life.

If these things were guaranteed I might vote yes, so what do you think are the chances of that happening? At first I was basically planning to support this initiative, but after watching our legislature at work why would I vote to give them one more cent? I have no confidence that the small time politicians that put this list together have any idea what they are doing. The project should be scrapped and a group of economist, transportation specialist, and environmental professionals organized to create a limited list of improvements that would have a positive impact on the entire region. I fear the current list is a hodgepodge of projects included on the list to get the support of local politicians and a few trendy items to attract the support of the faux urban planners among us.

Yes, we need real improvement, but the scope of this project is too large to ever be managed successfully.