Atlantans to Vote on Being Ninth Most-Taxed City in U.S.

“Shall an additional 0.4 percent sales tax be collected in the City of Atlanta for 5 years for the purpose of transportation improvements and congestion reduction?”

That’s the TSPLOST measure the Atlanta City Council approved 13-to-1 on Monday. ATLiens are also set to consider an additional half-penny sales tax increase for MARTA in November meaning our fair city’s tax rate could be as high as 8.9%.

What would the TSPLOST fund? Lots. The five-year tax is set to raise some $260 million and Mayor Reed says that will be “leveraged” for matching funds.

A press release from Reed’s office said: 

The [TSPLOST] project list includes high priority projects from the Connect Atlanta plan and more than a dozen neighborhood and community plans that have been adopted in the last six years, and features projects in nearly all of the city’s commercial districts, including:

  • $66 million for the Atlanta BeltLine, which will allow the BeltLine to purchase all the remaining right of way to close the 22-mile loop;
  • $75 million for 15 complete streets projects;
  • $3 million for Phase 2 of the Atlanta Bike Share program;
  • $69 million for pedestrian improvements in sidewalks; and
  • $40 million for traffic signal optimization.

“Infrastructure investments are vital to Atlanta’s quality of life and continued economic competitiveness,” said Mayor Reed. “Between the $250 million being spent through the Renew Atlanta bond program and these TSPLOST funds, Atlanta will reap the benefits of more than a half billion dollars invested in new and improved roads, sidewalks, neighborhood greenways, parks and congestion reduction efforts. Combined with a $3 billion expansion of our public transit system through MARTA, Atlanta residents will see unprecedented new investments in strengthening our transportation networks.”

Currently I’m undecided but not opposed to the TSPLOST and MARTA votes. However I can’t say I’m locked in one way or the other.

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gt7348bDave BearseNoway2016SaltycrackerMattMD_actual Recent comment authors
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Benevolus
Benevolus

Some other cities have more toll roads, and maybe different sales tax structures, and other fees. It would be interesting to see overall tax burden comparison, if that is even possible to calculate.

I suspect having a sales tax rate that high is unattractive to city leaders, so I’m not sure why they don’t (or if they have) looked at other ways to fund this.

Baker
Baker

I’m still in favor of an inbound toll on the Lester Maddox bridge or Peach Pass on 75…

MattMD_actual
MattMD_actual

Commuter taxes in Georgia are never going to happen.

Noway2016
Noway2016

No snark, but the i-85 toll lanes are a commuter tax of a sort. 75 will be following soon enough.

blakeage80
blakeage80

2 Things:
1. Is there any outlet where voters can go to get hard data points to show that spending this money will help? I mean things like “going from X to Y during peak times will be reduced by Z%”.
2. Have we ever had a robust discussion on here about the ‘complete streets’ strategy? I know Athens folks are crazy about them until it actually comes time to implement them and then the commission gives exemptions like bank suckers.

Davo65
Davo65

ARC maybe?

Benevolus
Benevolus

Looks like we might already be 9th in overall tax burden:
http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/taxburden/

LTWill
LTWill

This wouldn’t be necessary if, like every other transit authority serving a major city/area in America, the state provided funding for public transit. Our system (i’m including these suburban authorities) is an embarrassment.

Jack Fitz
Jack Fitz

City residents voted 3/1 to improve the water system last go around. These should both pass with similar if not larger margins.

I think City voters are smart enough to realize this is a much better alternative than subsidizing commuters through increased property taxes or use fees. And a 13-1 council vote would have to agree.

Jon Richards
Jon Richards

And this is why I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go for using sales taxes to pay for transit. Part of the original reason for using sales taxes to pay for transit is that it somewhat duplicated the “user pays” model we use for roads with the gas tax. But, the model isn’t perfect. Residents in a jurisdiction may never use transit, but still pay the tax, meanwhile residents from outside the jurisdiction ride, but don’t pay. (Yes, I understand that residents benefit from less clogged streets, and non-residents pay sales taxes, but work with me… Read more »

Jack Fitz
Jack Fitz

A House AND Senate study committee? Finally all of our problems will be solved. I’m sorry but waiting on the General Assembly to do anything on this issue is exactly the reason why the City of Atlanta is going to push this through. TSPLOST was in 2012, and we’ve see enough talk on regional efforts to sit around and wait. Especially with the growth projections the city anticipates. Brandon Beach got primary challenged because he was brave enough to utter some common sense when it comes to regional transit needs. I’m willing to bet others will be nervous to show… Read more »

raconteuse
raconteuse

“Simply put, the City of Atlanta can’t afford to wait on the suburban dads in the General Assembly to figure out why their commutes to and from the capitol are taking 45 minutes longer these days.”

Ha! But, so true. People in Atlanta want transit and pedestrian improvements and they’re willing to pay for it. Let those Gold Dome folks sit in traffic.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Committees? That’s been done that at least twice in past few years. But hey, it’s nice way to collect a couple hundred dollars per diem to kibbitz a couple hours with General Assembly colleagues.

gt7348b
gt7348b

Actually I think this is the fourth study committee on transportation since 2007. In 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2012 and then this.

LTWill
LTWill

It’s called state funded (at least partially) transit. People can get across state lines on the DC Metro, we can’t get across the Chattahoochee on MARTA.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

You are correct about the opt-in, but opt-in didn’t apply in cities such as Seattle and Denver that are massively increasing transit and will surpass Atlanta transit.

“Don’t want transit in your jurisdiction? ……. Don’t see the benefit of last mile transportation in Atlanta via the BeltLine when you live in Gwinnett?”

Freeload. It’s working for Cobb, Gwinnett and other suburban counties just fine. More than a third of those boarding or alighting at Doraville are non-MARTA county residents. GRTA commuter buses are entirely state-supported.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Atlanta surpassed NYC and Philly in property taxes (#6) and sales taxes (#1) so it might be wise to take a deep breathe and see where the money goes.
Property taxes were stunning on a home I sold 15 years ago near Lenox.

Nice to see Deal announce over a billion in lottery $ for education, if it doubles they would still want more.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Kids need new cars at college.