New poll doesn’t bode well for metro Atlanta’s transportation sales tax

Channel 2 Action News is touting a Rosetta Stone poll that shows strong opposition outside Fulton and DeKalb counties to the July 31 transportation sales tax initiative:

The poll found 42 percent support the referendum, while 45 percent oppose it. Thirteen percent remain undecided.

Voters in DeKalb and Fulton counties showed overwhelming support for the tax, by a 52 to 33 percent margin. The numbers are nearly exact opposites in the other eight suburban counties where the measure is opposed by a 20 point margin.

This isn’t what proponents were looking for – not midway through a campaign that has already blanketed voters with direct mail and not a small amount of TV.

We hope to have some cross tabs and methodology to offer you soon.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

119 comments Add your comment

Centrist

May 21st, 2012
4:58 pm

Told you so.

Middleist

May 21st, 2012
5:00 pm

See you tomorrow.

td

May 21st, 2012
5:04 pm

Conservatives are not willing to pay additional taxes for rail and the belt line.

Kris T.

May 21st, 2012
5:07 pm

As the question of ethics comes up how dirty is this DEAL for the taxpayers.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
5:08 pm

“New poll doesn’t bode well for metro Atlanta’s transportation sales tax”

The most amazing revelation is that the powers-that-be actually needed a poll to confirm what mostly everyone in Metro Atlanta outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties already knew.

Trusslady

May 21st, 2012
5:09 pm

It’s not a conservative thing, td. I’m voting NO. This is not a plan for easing traffic. It’s a gimme to the many road contractors on behalf of GDOT. Adding more roads will not solve the traffic problem in Atlanta. A more comprehensive metro system will, and the fact that that cannot be seen by the powers that be, is the reason why people won’t vote for it.
We’ve paid for roads and had them turned into Toll Roads with more to come. We are paying for roads two and three times over with no end in sight. Fool me once………….
Enough is enough.

Ga Values

May 21st, 2012
5:10 pm

If you like the job Reed did stealing at the airport just wait until he is finished with the Beltline. If you like the current management of Marta you’ll love the job they are going to do on expansion.. VOTE NO FOR WASTE & CORRUPTION

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
5:10 pm

Kris T.

May 21st, 2012
5:07 pm

“As the question of ethics comes up how dirty is this DEAL for the taxpayers?”

Too dirty to even mention.

tombop

May 21st, 2012
5:21 pm

not a liberal/conservative issue- it’s pure dollars and sense!! All the road projects around here have been butchered by the state and local governments. That’s why we have the problems now!!! MARTA’s been a case study in mismanagement. Making people pay extra to use roads in Gwinnett when our gas taxes have already built them….Looking for “private partners” for roads in NW area… JUST SAY NO!!!! All these politicians are the same- they’re Rep. now, but were Dem., and will switch back if the wind blows that way. They want way too much money and deliver way too little for it- back to the taxpayers, even though their buddies do quite well.

Ga Values

May 21st, 2012
5:27 pm

Real Athens

May 21st, 2012
5:30 pm

Real “conservatives” would take the train and ride bicycles when applicable. The word has lost its true meaning.

B. Thenet

May 21st, 2012
5:36 pm

The Cobb delegation on this made a huge mess out of their piece, there is really no incentive for anyone in Cobb to vote for this.

honested

May 21st, 2012
5:38 pm

Let’s stop and think how hard the ‘Bush Depression’ has been on the road builders. Even with the huge windfalls thrown their way by ’sonny the corrupt’ many (like chip pearson) were unable to make it on the mainline they had to the public till.
So, they came up with this ‘pay forever’ scheme with the aid of small town politicians and that pinnacle of unvarnished greed, the chamber of commerce. Put together a rove-style sales campaign and it should be a shoo-in.
Luckily, Georgians are finally awakening to just who they have put in charge and just how carefully they have to watch those ‘public servants’ lest they just get busy and serve us all in a public manner.

This is why we have a motor fuel tax and why it should be tripled to adjust for the massive inflation that has occurred since it was last adjusted.

Then we can have a TSPLOST for TRANSIT that will both cost and benefit those who NEED public transportation and are not otherwise contributing to the motor fuel tax.

But that would be good and responsible government, so it may take another generation or so.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
5:44 pm

B. Thenet

May 21st, 2012
5:36 pm

“The Cobb delegation on this made a huge mess out of their piece, there is really no incentive for anyone in Cobb to vote for this.”

Look who’s in charge in Cobb: Cobb County Commission Chair “Professor Clueless” Tim Lee and State Senator “I TWICE voted for the T-SPLOST before I was against it” Chip Rogers.

With idiots like those two knuckleheads leading the way, why wouldn’t the result be anything other than a huge mess?

Will in Roswell

May 21st, 2012
5:47 pm

I’m voting no. You know how it is – a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

North resident

May 21st, 2012
5:52 pm

Hmm… a study comes out that shows that the TSPLOST will not improve things (at all) for those outside of Atlanta, and someone is surprised that those who will not benefit from it will not vote for it?

Screw the whole R vs. D aspect…. this is Atlanta/South Fulton/Dekalb getting the lions share of money for a list of projects that will not improve metro Atlanta traffic at all. If this project list tackled hard topics… like extending rail to Alpharetta or figuring out how to get passengers from Duluth to Marietta without doing multiple stops in Atlanta and taking 2-3 hours each way, then the TSPLOST would get more support. So instead of a train out to Alpharetta, North Fulton gets the belt line. WhooDeeShiite. Nobody in North Fulton, D or R, thinks that is even remotely fair or practical.

I would love to take a train from Alpharetta to Emory every day. In fact, a train to Downtown/Emory/Perimeter would be a big boon to the area. But someone has decided light rail from Cobb or the belt line is more important.

The entire 400 corridor gets little-to-nothing for 10 years. Not mass transit, not new roads… nothing. I am voting “No”.

Frustrated in Gwinnett

May 21st, 2012
5:54 pm

I am a no vote. At best this is a band aid. A band aid will help but not heal the gaping wound that is Atlanta traffic. It is going to take some very innovative thinking to significantly affect our traffic. This Sales tax is not it. The other comments are correct, this is old thinking supported by those who will profit.

Double Zero Eight

May 21st, 2012
5:55 pm

People in bordering counties such as Carroll and Forsyth
can vote no on their referendum, yet reap the benefits if
the measure passes in the “so called” 10 county metro region..
People in those counties that work in downtown Atlanta, Buckhead
or the Airport have little incentive to vote yes for their referendum.
They can “piggyback” and reap countless benefits if the measure
passes in the 10 county metro region as it is presently configured.

Job Creator

May 21st, 2012
5:57 pm

This vote will directly affect whether or not companies will locate to Georgia. Period.

Georgia’s competitors are licking their chops right now. If this vote fails, it will carve in stone the number one marketing point for the Chambers of Commerce in numerous, nearby regional areas (not to mention other competitive areas around the world).

Our housing market is already starting to look like Detroit. If we completely flush ourselves down the toilet, I think you can look to this time period, and to this vote as the moment when we finally lost it.

DD96

May 21st, 2012
5:59 pm

There is a blueprint for a workable Plan B — and it should be acted upon BEFORE Plan A fails:

http://www.north-x-northwest.com

It’s amazing how quickly things can get done behind the scenes, especially when it empowers lawmakers. This poll might be the trigger.

No plan / project list is perfect, but some are simply more likely to pass muster at the ballot box than others. It’s all about striking the right balance.

Rabbit

May 21st, 2012
6:08 pm

td writes: “Conservatives are not willing to pay additional taxes for rail and the belt line.”

I accept this as an accurate statement, but it puzzling. If conservatives are pro-business and virtually every thriving metropolis in the country on the same scale as Atlanta is forging ahead of Atlanta on the accepted premise that mass transit is at least as sustainable as roads when you factor in business location decisions. Even Charlotte and Phoenix have invested in light rail with significant popular support. Why does the “drown Fulton County in the bathtub” crowd not get the necessity for a vibrant and accessible urban core?
I hate to say it, but fear of demographic shifts have played a role in deep south transportation decisions for the last 40 years and because of this wrongheadedness, we will face the prospect of sliding into the second tier of southern states. Poor, but proud – and none too bright.

John

May 21st, 2012
6:10 pm

No. Not one penny to the state of georgia who will squander it. I don’t trust the state employees to manage it at all. They are all corrupt. GA 400. Nuff said.

Susan

May 21st, 2012
6:12 pm

Get informed about the referendum and the transportation projects before you decide how to vote. ARC, local officials and transportation professionals will be hosting Wireside Chats about the referendum from June 4 – 14. Participate by phone from your own home. Learn more and register at: http://bit.ly/JjUjXO

Check out an interactive map to see what projects will be built near where you live and travel: http://bit.ly/KgRseM

See what Politifact has to say about the transportation referendum campaign: http://bit.ly/JDbPVU

Rabbit

May 21st, 2012
6:18 pm

For the unceasingly “entitled” North Fulton crowd, the last major line of MARTA pushed out the 400 corridor. While Cobb has only itself to blame for being late to the party, there is significant need in that corridor. We lost 8 years under Gov. Purdon’t and it will take another 8 to catch up. For everyone who wants it now, vote ‘no’ if you choose, but take care that your suburban home doesn’t slide upside down on the mtg/equity line.

Real Athens

May 21st, 2012
6:18 pm

Rabbit:

You mention Charlotte. No one need look any further than Chattanooga.

Rabbit

May 21st, 2012
6:27 pm

We see homes losing 70% value (that’s right, 70%), land losing 80-90% value in the suburbs. Civility takes a hit when people spend 2-3 hours a day crawling along in traffic with cheaters riding up the emergency lanes and taking crazy risks to gain a 5 second advantage. Will T-SPLOST stop this? No. Will doing nothting be better? NO. This referendum is a measure of whether the public is so anti-tax than it will drown in its own swill, or whether it will begin to accept that transportation is best done by government and in Georgia (except for the last 30 years) we’ve done it better than our neighbors.

Shar

May 21st, 2012
6:29 pm

@honested, Trusslady et al: Amen. This project list gives little or nothing to anyone except the developers, bond backers and construction companies, who in turn make it all worthwhile for the politicians. Delivering value for the money to the taxpayers didn’t even make their radar screens. They just salivate at the excuse to create another reason for a huge tax increase and never-ending slush fund.

If we need to build more roads, the politicians need to suck it up and pass a gas tax increase to fund construction. The Transit Initiative was supposed to fund new thinking about efficient, effective means to move people throughout the metro region, not augment the DOT road budget and squeeze in projects that the state has chosen not to prioritize.

We need real transit, not a tourist carousel like the Beltline (a fine idea as a ring of parks and bike/pedestrian right of ways, but never, never an effective, efficient transit option) or influence-ridden special projects like the rail link to Emory. This process has reflected the mindset of planners and special interests holding on fiercely to the old, single vehicle paradigm which has to be replaced. We will never be able to build enough roads to end traffic. We need to make it attractive, convenient and affordable to change commute habits and get people out of their individual cars.

Other cities have done this successfully. Atlanta can, too. This project list keeps us locked in the 1950’s. Throw it out and demand better. This has nothing to do with political affiliation and everything to do with common sense.

findog

May 21st, 2012
6:32 pm

As Nancy advised in the early 80’s, “Just say no!”

earthworx

May 21st, 2012
6:49 pm

I’d feel more confident voting for this if the ethically-challenged Gov. Deal and Mayor Reed had nothing to do with it. If this is approved the money will just end up in the pockets of their cronies, ala the H.O.T. lane fiasco and the new Hartsfield terminal boondoggle.

Kevin Clark

May 21st, 2012
6:55 pm

Please note that every new road is a tax as well; in fact, it’s a triple tax: 1) taxpayers pay to put it in (often); 2) taxpayers pay to maintain it; 3) taxpayers pay to use it (gas tax, ad valorem tax). And then, taxpayers are stuck with traffic, pollution, and $4 gas. We’ve been going down this path for 60 years – it is time to realize these items (traffic, pollution, gas prices, loss of agriculture) are all heading in the wrong direction we need to change.

Transit options (keep in mind this bill is only about half transit,half automobile-focused) reduce other costs and tax burdens as well. For example, the average American family spends about 20% of their income on personal transportation (their car, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc). For the middle class, this is a huge chunk of change that can send a middle-class individual into poverty; resulting in a burden on other taxpayers to provide welfare and other subsidies. With transit options (such as bus, train, or walking) these lower-income class individuals would spend less money on their car (and gas, tolls, insurance, etc) and more money on food, shelter and clothing, reducing the burden on other taxpayers.

For all the fiscal conservatives out there (and I am one) – please consider voting for this bill – it is a very short term cost, with a huge long term benefit. Just follow the math, it will lead you to YES.

Big t

May 21st, 2012
6:58 pm

Vote NO,….. Make them come up with a better plan
Can we Trust them????

Johns creek

May 21st, 2012
7:15 pm

I live in Fulton county and I am voting no on this tax. The plan is a boondoggle and will not help reduce traffic. we already pay a Marta sales tax, that is a waste of money. No other county wants to pay for MARTA.

hiram

May 21st, 2012
7:26 pm

Since the voters in Georgia have sat on their hands and allowed the Governor to dismantle the mechanism that monitered political ethics, their is absolutely NO ACCOUNTABILITY for the expenditures of your TAX MONEY. One thing that you can be certain of, is that representing the best interest of the citizens of Georgia, is NOT the politicians number one priority.

findog

May 21st, 2012
7:42 pm

It cannot be a big deal, I mean they took four years to pass it and put off the vote for 15 months. Just vote NO!

Kris T.

May 21st, 2012
7:42 pm

kwn

May 21st, 2012
7:58 pm

I would support it if half wasn’t dedicated to expanding MARTA lines.

So, once they get the message they can go back to the drawing board. But you know what will happen then right? Give a few more perks to the outter counties and keep MARTA in it. THen I will still vote against it.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
8:17 pm

From today’s Creative Loafing:
http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2012/05/21/clark-howard-endorses-transportation-tax&cb=a3f7a04a1baf26346dbe2477840ec205&sort=desc#readerComments

“Clark Howard, the consumer advocate and media personality who’s helped protect countless metro Atlantans from huckster scam artists trying to sell bridges and broke-ass Betamax players, says he’ll vote for the regional transportation tax on July 31.”

He’ll likely be the one of the scant few voting for this farcical scam designed to put more public money in the already-deep pockets of the crooks Downtown (Gold Dome, Atlanta City Hall, Atlanta Regional Commission, etc) and their bloodsucking cronies.

Right-Wing-Dinger

May 21st, 2012
8:22 pm

No taxes for anything. Let the freakin’ infrastructure decay and turn to dust. That’s the way it was in the mid 19th centure and those of us who are right-wing-dingers like it that way.

The same is true of taxes for education. A school marm and a one room school teaching reading, riting, rithmetic and religion is what we need to get us back on course.

Two are three more victories like 2010 and we’ll be where we ought to be — back in the good ol’ days.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
8:26 pm

kwn

May 21st, 2012
7:58 pm

No more drawing board.

This town (including the City of Atlanta, Georgia state government, the unethical governments of metro counties and the regional powers-that-be at the Atlanta Regional Commission) desperately needs to clean-up its act, with ETHICS in GOVERNMENT, before it can even hope to proceed on the transportation front.

Until then, what’s the point of going forward if we know that rather than helping to relieve severe traffic, our money is going to end up in the already deep pockets of greedy developers, roadbuilders, and now trainbuilders, via the disgustingly grubby little hands of some slimy crooked politicians who are on the take.

YeahRight

May 21st, 2012
8:26 pm

Just amazing, but not surprising.
Those that need the transportation the most, are the least willing to pay for it. But why not? They haven’t really had to do so in the past, so why should they ever?
Investment has to come from somewhere – and private companies don’t invest in commuter transportation. The returns are not financial, only higher quality of life, pollution reduction, stress reduction, more time with the family – hard to trade that in for cash.
This is short term thinking at its best.
As for the complaints about the Beltline – what a bunch of unsubstantiated hogwash. If the folks in the city don’t get something, they will be willing to vote ‘no’ and let the ‘burbs choke on their sprawl. Its called compromise – oh, yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore.

YeahRight

May 21st, 2012
8:41 pm

… and there is always the alternative:

Do nothing, and traffic will get better, eventually.
After all, when all the businesses abandon the area – there will be fewer cars on the road, and the commute times will improve. This is just like it did in Detroit.

But by then, your house will have been foreclosed, your neighborhood will be boarded up, you will have lost your job and you will have moved elsewhere… so it won’t matter.

bulldog

May 21st, 2012
8:48 pm

vote no on any tax, they just line their pockets

dc

May 21st, 2012
8:58 pm

love how folks say conservatives are the ones who are dirty. what a crock. the worst, most crooked cities in america are and have been democrat strongholds for years.

I know anyone can post anything on these blogs, but seriously, at least try to make a statement that has some semblance of truth to it.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
9:19 pm

YeahRight

May 21st, 2012
8:26 pm

“Investment has to come from somewhere – and private companies don’t invest in commuter transportation.”

That’s not necessarily true.

There were a bevy of companies, both foreign and domestic, that bid on the proposed I-75/I-575 HOT Lanes project (which has a heavy transit element to it as commuter buses will use the lanes) before it was cancelled as a Public-Private Partnership (P3) back in December with Spanish company Cintra leading the field of potential suitors due to being prepared to turn in the highest bid, which was going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million dollars.

The number of multiple suitors that expressed serious interest in the I-75/I-575 Northwest Corridor proves that private companies would readily bid on rail transit projects if given the chance, it’s just that the government has never put a rail transit project out for bid in addition to never expressing an interest in making rail transit even anywhere near close to being profitable.

There’s a prevalent false belief that transit can only be operated with very heavy government subsidies in the form of increased sales taxes and that is not true.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 21st, 2012
9:35 pm

dc

May 21st, 2012
8:58 pm

“love how folks say conservatives are the ones who are dirty. what a crock. the worst, most crooked cities in america are and have been democrat strongholds for years.”

Until recently, the Democrats also dominated Georgia Politics for a very long time, controlling government at the local and state levels in nearly every corner of the state with few exceptions for over 140 years.

Make no mistake, when the Democrats controlled and dominated virtually every aspect of Georgia Politics, they were decisively corrupt.

But with the recent rapidly deteriorating ethical record of the GOP-dominated Georgia Legislature, Georgia Republicans are in no position to throw stones when it comes to ethics and corruption in government.

In fact, it is because of the ongoing ethical mishaps of the Republican-dominated state government and suburban governments in outlying counties (most notably in Cobb and, ESPECIALLY, Gwinnett) along with the blatant corruption and mismanagement of the Democrat-dominated muncipal governments in the City of Atlanta, DeKalb, Fulton and Clayton counties that the upcoming T-SPLOST referendum is increasingly likely to be defeated in a landslide.

How can people have confidence in their government to solve major problems if they can’t even trust those same governments to do something as simple and basic as NOT STEALING THE MONEY that the taxpayers have given them?

Eli

May 21st, 2012
9:51 pm

First, the measly 1% sales tax paid in Fulton and Dekalb is insufficient for any kind of pricing reduction. As it stands MARTA is the largest public transit system in the US not to receive government funding for operational expenses. Any failure on the part of MARTA is a failure on behalf of a private company, not the government.

A state/region wide sales tax may be marginally sufficient to break ground on a rail system going further into the suburbs, but so long as people have the idea that it will be MARTA this issue is DOA. Even though MARTA is a light-rail system, the conservatives of the north metro area do not know it.

The state has totally bungled this ballot initiative. It was an opportunity to have the people raise their own taxes so the legislature will not have to (and since this referendum looks likely to fail they will be faced with new challenges).

So, Atlanta will continue to have serious transportation problems. The legislature does not have the spine do raise taxes on its own, GOP voters do not want any kind of rail system (and probably because such projects are favored by the Obama admin), the referendum will likely fail, and MARTA (a failing private entity) is despised by the right-wing (aka Georgia GOP).

I have a secret to tell you People: doing nothing solves nothing. We have nearly 6 million people in the Metro area…and probably only enough infrastructure to support 4 million people. That is one of the many reasons Atlanta is a hub rather than a destination.

Ol' Timer

May 21st, 2012
9:55 pm

There’s nothing worse than aggressive stupidity. Do nothing and watch the commute time increase as you sit there burning $4.00 a gallon gas.

A bunch of Einstein’s one and all.

Joe_Harris

May 21st, 2012
10:07 pm

People are opposing the plan left and right but what are the other solutions? What will do if this plan is not passed? Continue to sit in traffic, continue to visit other cities and see how great their transportation system is compared to ours. C’mon! We gotta do something!

Cutty

May 21st, 2012
10:12 pm

Eli- What are you talking about? 1) MARTA is a quasi-governmental agency created by the Georgia Legislature. 2) MARTA is 100% a heavy-rail system.

MARTA’s FY 2012 operating budget was over $410M. Every cent obtained either by the penny sales tax or fares. And you still think that penny isn’t all that much? You even say that MARTA is both a public and private corporation in your post.

KellyW

May 21st, 2012
10:15 pm

I agree with you Joe. This plan may not solve all the answers but they definitely solve a good bit of them. Besides with a lot of the projects that are being completed they have double benefits. I, like many people in GA, don’t live in the same county as they work. Therefore getting this referendum passed will solve the issue that I have in my home county as well as the issues I have in my commuting counties.