Build public trust by using taxes for transportation, not stadium

The AJC’s polling ahead of tomorrow’s T-SPLOST referendum shows pretty much what I expected: A little over half of the voters in metro Atlanta reject the 10-year, $7.2 billion sales tax, with enough folks still undecided that the final margin will probably be in single digits. (I started to write it’s what “most people” would expect. But, given that we still are getting vastly divergent reports of the decisions of even those voters who have already cast their ballots, I’m not sure there is a prevailing view here.)

That said, there was a somewhat surprising result for one of the questions asked with the main queries about the transportation tax: Two-thirds of metro Atlanta residents also reject the idea of using hotel/motel tax revenues to build a new Falcons stadium downtown.

That’s a stout show of disapproval for spending $300 million of public money to replace the Georgia Dome. Unfortunately, there are no geographic splits for this question. Those would have been useful given that the tax revenues are for lodging within the city of Atlanta — and that residents of Atlanta might be more interested than, say, those in Gwinnett County in keeping the Falcons downtown.

Still, there is an important implication in the likely event the T-SPLOST is rejected. Here is an existing stream of income totaling $15 million to $20 million a year ($17.8 million last year) that in theory could be redirected to what city and state elected officials say is one of our region’s most critical priorities: transportation infrastructure.

Of course, even if all the money could be directed to transportation, it wouldn’t come close to the hundreds of millions of dollars the T-SPLOST would raise each year. But if our elected officials want to gain the public’s trust when it comes to raising taxes for transportation infrastructure, it will take more than another promise to end the toll on Ga. 400. It will take a demonstration that all available revenue sources have been tapped.

After all, as Mayor Kasim Reed once said, leading is choosing. Our leaders can choose to use the hotel/motel tax to replace a 20-year-old stadium — one that is sufficient for all its tenants besides the Falcons, who play in it less than 15 days a year. But they ought not be surprised if the public still doesn’t take them seriously on the issue of new taxes for transportation.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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313 comments Add your comment

Real Scootter

July 30th, 2012
11:23 am

Real Scootter

July 30th, 2012
11:24 am

getalife

July 30th, 2012
11:32 am

They do not even try to win our trust back but thanks for trying Kyle.

Real Scootter

July 30th, 2012
11:32 am

I don’t want to pay any more tax than I have to.

the cat

July 30th, 2012
11:33 am

Nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome. Let the Falcons pay for their own stadium.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

July 30th, 2012
11:34 am

I would like to see an outdoor real grass stadium as FIFA requires that to be a World Cup venue. Should the U.S. ever be chosen to host that event again, Atlanta doesn’t have the requisite facility.

That said, I don’t want to see a stadium built to further the cause of skyboxification.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

July 30th, 2012
11:37 am

You mean the Falcons did not build THAT stadium? It took a community? And now they want more corporate welfare?

getalife

July 30th, 2012
11:39 am

Good one Keep.

Dow at 13,000.

iggy

July 30th, 2012
11:40 am

When the Falcons can bring home a few Super Bowl wins, then and ONLY THEN, should a new stadium be considered. The Falcons have been and always be a second rate team.

NO STADIUM.
NO TSPlost.

PS…If the Falcons dont like it then take the team elsewhere.

How Inciteful Is That!

July 30th, 2012
11:48 am

Uh Oh. I think I agree with what Kyle has posted. How is that possible. I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. I hope this is a sign for me and the Georgia Lottery. :smile:

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

July 30th, 2012
11:52 am

Dow over 13,000. Obama up in the polls, Cheesy Grits getting blasted on overseas trip.

Pretty slow news day at Fox.

Michael

July 30th, 2012
11:53 am

Yes use the extra taxes for the beltline and transportation.

RB from Gwinnett

July 30th, 2012
11:53 am

Why is there no discussion about putting a new retractable roof on the existing stadium?

jconservative

July 30th, 2012
11:54 am

Why do the Falcons feel they need a new stadium?

I thought we rejected the idea expressed by Obama that business success is a community effort.
Sounds like the Falcons are listening to Obama.

Death to the T-SPLOST!

July 30th, 2012
11:55 am

Kyle, you are 100% correct. Before imposing a new tax, state government should use the taxes they already collect. The biggest pile of taxpayer money NOT currently going to transportation is the 4th penny or % of the state sales tax on motor fuel. That’s over $100 million a year which goes to the general fund, not transportation. Then there are the millions the state gets from CSX for rent on the rail line from Atlanta to Chattanooga.

Matz

July 30th, 2012
12:00 pm

It’s the American way, y’all. Pay attention now: 1 – Big corps and rich folks buy govt officials at every level via our campaign finance system that encourages this. 2 – Govt officials write tax codes that favor the rich, and have their corp-owned media and advertising promote bogus descriptions like “job creators” to justify it. 3 – Giant corps get government subsidies and tax loopholes, under the premise that they’re creating jobs and/or something everybody needs. 4 – Giant corps, with their wealth and built up via subsidies and loopholes, make tons of profit — ALL OF WHICH is private. 5 – You end up covering for them so they can build a stadium for events priced out of your ability to enjoy, and power plants for which you may not live long enough to receive power, and if you do, you’ll pay the full, for-profit price for every single watt.

Ask not for whom your government works. It isn’t you.

Cutty

July 30th, 2012
12:01 pm

Republicans creating policies (TSPLOST) that were doomed to fail. Who’da thunk it. They were even for it, before they were against it (Chip Rogers). We pay our representatives to make the tough decisions. This vote should’ve happened when the General Assembly was in session, and not left up to transportation experts who hate paying taxes.

Don't Tread

July 30th, 2012
12:04 pm

Opposition to T-SPLOST and using tax revenues to replace a perfectly good stadium (owned by a private party, no less).

Seems people are tired of wasting boatloads of taxpayer money to support waste, cronyism, and corruption. I wonder what a binding “sunshine” referendum on the ballot would do?

Jefferson

July 30th, 2012
12:06 pm

Taxes for road, yes — that’s what taxes are for. Stadiums, only when you have more money than you know what to do with.

Trust ? IN GOD WE TRUST , IN MY POCKET IT WILL RUST.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 30th, 2012
12:08 pm

Tee SPLAT!

Falcons stadium plans make about as much sense as, Obamacare will bend the cost curve. Government foresight is an oxymoron.

Piedmont South

July 30th, 2012
12:12 pm

Can’t see using any taxes to pay for a new stadium, that includes hotel/motel tax. Should be a private effort.

They looked at putting a retractable roof on the present stadium. Not a practical idea costwise.

NFL has voted not to play the super bowl in Atlanta again in the existing stadium. It’s out of fashion. But they could change their vote in the future. Not like it’s a pernament ban.

Piedmont South

July 30th, 2012
12:14 pm

Jefferson

July 30th, 2012
12:06 pm
________

Taxes for roads are fine. But not regressive sales taxes. Take road taxes out of general revenues. Raising gas taxes would be next choice, althought not the best choice.

jconservative

July 30th, 2012
12:17 pm

Matz 12:00 pm

Wonderful piece of writing!

Piedmont South

July 30th, 2012
12:19 pm

jconservative

_

Agree, Except the last sentence should have read:

“It ain’t you. Babe.”

Just saying..

July 30th, 2012
12:20 pm

Where are all Kyle’s cons this morning?

godless heathen - Hoping for Change

July 30th, 2012
12:20 pm

Hey Kam, Did you break the blog Friday night? The music was just getting started.

Grasshopper

July 30th, 2012
12:20 pm

“NFL has voted not to play the super bowl in Atlanta again in the existing stadium. It’s out of fashion.”

And the New Orleans Super Dome is IN fashion? What gives?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

July 30th, 2012
12:24 pm

What are the stadiums wearing these days? Are peek-a-boo tops really in?

barking frog

July 30th, 2012
12:32 pm

The sports franchises should
have any type arena they
can afford to build.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

July 30th, 2012
12:44 pm

Hey Kam, Did you break the blog Friday night?

Not that I know of.

That happened two years ago when Jay went fishing and Paul did the *report this comment* thingie.

When that happens, I believe the powers that be just shut it down until Jay returns.

Someone did name-jack over there during this year’s fishing trip, so I guess it’s plausible they reported the incident and thus shut it down.

tiredofIT

July 30th, 2012
12:54 pm

Romney Praises Israel’s Universal Health Care System, Which Includes Individual Mandate

Erwin aka Schrodinger's cat

July 30th, 2012
12:54 pm

How much revenue does the dome bring in outside of Falcon’s football?…and how much more will a new dome bring in or keep here outside of falcons football?

GT

July 30th, 2012
12:58 pm

Atlanta was not mentioned in the intro of this years Olympics on NBC. This is very significant of where this city is going and what spending billions for downtown preparation has done for this once great city. We have mismanaged money so long even the lesser intelligent have noticed. To give this crowd city or state any more rope when it has already hung itself and us with them is a joke.

MM

July 30th, 2012
1:00 pm

During a time of sharp cutbacks in Georgia government spending for teachers, firefighters, police services, and unemployment benefits (even as joblessness is shooting up), maybe taxpayers are finally getting tired of paying for rich man’s toys (Falcons) and corporate favors (TSPLOST.)

Stadiums are crazy

July 30th, 2012
1:08 pm

Replace a stadium less than 20 years old? This is purely about revenue for one of the many Dome tenants, the Falcons. Let them propose changes to the GA Dome to increase their revenue and have actual users of the Dome (ticket buyers) pay for it (novel idea, eh?). If they don’t believe Dome can be “modernized” to their liking (i.e., more skyboxes where they don’t share revenue with other team), let them build their own (again, charging people who use it)

JohnnyReb

July 30th, 2012
1:14 pm

The city fathers are NOT interested in reducing traffic congestion. To prove this, look no further than an HOV entrance/exit ramp versus the regular entrance/exit going to the same place.

The HOV entrance/exit has no traffic to speak of while the regular entrance/exit is backed up.

Instead of facing the music that car pooling is basically a failed policy, and changing the entrance/exits so that anyone can use them, they stubbornly stick to the failed policy, ignore an easy almost no-cost change that would help traffic congestion.

Instead, they want more of your money where they promise to use it wisely. If HOV entrance/exits are an indicator of what the consider “wise,” then all the existing office holders need to be shown the door.

Erwin

July 30th, 2012
1:18 pm

http://www.terry.uga.edu/selig/docs/gwcc_report_08_final.pdf

GA dome generates @ $290 million /yr to the states economy, so not a bad investment if you break even in the first yr (based on Kyles $300 M figure in the article)

JohnnyReb

July 30th, 2012
1:18 pm

Kyle, good piece on the new stadium.

Let’s see, almost 100% of Atlanta public school students say they qualify for the free lunch program. When a gulley washer comes, sewage spews into the streets. And, if the Hooch drys up there is no plan for water. Yea, a new stadium is more important – NOT.

Tell the Falcons to play in the Georgia Dome and love it. If they move somewhere else, they were not the city lovers they say they are or the fans think they are.

Road Scholar

July 30th, 2012
1:22 pm

jconservative: Who do you think paid for the Dome? Us! Through taxes and tickets!

Death: Since the bonds were sold for GRIP, that penny has been used to pay for the bonds by GDOT!

Piedmont South

July 30th, 2012
1:25 pm

There was a good piece in the AJC yesterday about apartment construction downtown. Where people can work and play without having to commute.

That seems to be the answer and smarter than building more roads to cause more congestion and more sprawl.

Erwin's cat

July 30th, 2012
1:27 pm

In 2008 The GA dome and GWCC was good for $2.8B in sales (10% GA dome)
$1B in earnings, 31650 jobs, $123M in tax revenue for the state, $55M in local sales tax, and $52M in hotel tax revenues….Seeing as how Atl makes it’s money on conventions, the Falcons and the city as well as the state would benefit from a new facility

Piedmont South

July 30th, 2012
1:27 pm

Erwin

July 30th, 2012
1:18 pm

_____

We (the taxpayers) could build a new stadium. Just charge the Falcons and other users enough rent to pay for it and bring in a profit. If we trust our elected govt. to do that and not misuse the funds.

yuzeyurbrane

July 30th, 2012
1:32 pm

Yes, this is a proposal almost everyone could agree on.

Oblama

July 30th, 2012
1:32 pm

Motel taxes in Atlanta are ridiculous… that’s why I stay outside of the city when I visit. Bad timing for a stadium built by tax payers in this economic environment. Besides I’ve been waiting for the Falcons to win the Super Bowl since 1966 (their 1st year). Let them win a Super Bowl 1st and then we will talk. Meanwhile, I will still follow them on the tube. TSPLOST? Reduce other spending programs and use that for transportation if you want it. I don’t.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 30th, 2012
1:34 pm

It’s not very hard to get off topic with all these libs around, they’ve already started muttering about our next president Romney. But what I’d like to know is how long does it take bookman to catch a fish? Has he consider tying a hook on the end of his line? Did he forget to bring a hand cannon and get ate by some forest creature who’s domain he’s encroaching upon?

How much longer do we have to put up with these wretched, foul people?

DebbieDoRight - The Only Thing Wrong With Capitalism is Capitalists..

July 30th, 2012
1:34 pm

I’m voting against TSPLOTS — I think it’s a waste of time. If the people in the big house think we need more transportation intiatives, then they should grow a pair and VOTE them in; instead of passing the buck to the voter.

They’re no better than when your mom used to say, “Go outside and get me a switch to spank you with!!”; then you came back with the smallest switch on planet earth. As if, you’d actually come back wiht a big one!

Sure, we’ll VOTE for US to pay more taxes, when hell freezes over or when Zell comes down from the mountain carrying the holy grail in his back pocket. Whichever comes first.

As for the georgia dome……all those MILLIONAIRES on the team, and the BILLIONAIRE who owns the team should pay for it and shaddup about it already!

they can either pay for the dome themselves, or foot the bill for TSPLOTS — their choice.

Lord Help Us

July 30th, 2012
1:35 pm

Mr. Blank can ‘build it on his own.’

I think all the businesses that are supporting the Chamber of Commerce’ position on the T-SPLOST should just build the roads they want on their own too…

Mrphy Brown

July 30th, 2012
1:35 pm

Public transportation is better left to the private sector. So is building stadiums. Government should run the government – not football stadiums and rail trains and buses.

Erwin's cat

July 30th, 2012
1:37 pm

To be honest, I don’t know why Blank doesn’t pay for it out of pocket and rent it back to Atl…he’d make a killin’

Piedmont South

July 30th, 2012
1:38 pm