In the was of the defeat of a regional tax measure that would have funded transportation projects, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told PSC that all is not lost. He said he was encouraged by the strong support for the tax measure within the city and that work will continue on key projects like the city's Beltline. Here's the text of the mayor's statement:
“I am working with my Administration to identify alternate means to address the city’s transportation and infrastructure challenges. Voters in the City of Atlanta strongly supported the transportation referendum 58 to 42 percent, and are acutely aware that many of our sidewalks, roads and bridges are in need of repair. The strong performance of the referendum in the city shows that Atlanta residents understood the tremendous impact an additional $100 million over the next 10 years for local neighborhood improvements would have made, and it is disappointing that projects such as rail expansion to the Emory University/Clifton Road Corridor are off the table for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, because of the city’s improving fiscal health and the growth of its reserves from $7.4 million to more than $100 million over the past two and a half years, we have the capability to go to the capital markets for funding to meet many of our key infrastructure needs. I look forward to working with the Atlanta City Council on identifying those projects in the weeks and months ahead.
Finally, transformative transportation projects such as the Atlanta BeltLine will continue as planned through funding from the Tax Allocation District, private contributions, public/private partnerships and federal resources. Tens of thousands of passionate grassroots supporters remain engaged and the city’s philanthropic and business communities continue to be invested in this dynamic initiative. I share their passion and commitment, and as such, the Atlanta BeltLine will be among my top priorities in seeking federal funding.”
Tax measure defeated
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Tea Party activists are being given credit for helping to defeat the ballot measure that would have funded a long list of transportation improvement projects for the ten-county greater Atlanta region. The vote tally as of the morning after the July 31 vote was 63% against and 37% for the measure.
The reports said that surveys of voters showed that opponents of the measure did not trust governments to spend the money wisely and did not believe it would really help reduce the areas traffic jams. The defeat of the 10-year, 1 percent sales tax leaves a number of important projects in limbo as to finding future funding, including the Beltline project in the city of Atlanta.
Kasim Reed, Atlanta mayor, promised to keep fighting to win voter approval for taxes to finance transportation improvements. By adding a one-cent sales tax across 10 Atlanta metro area counties over a 10 year period, the proposed referendum would have generated up to $8.5 billion in tax revenues in order to fund a specific list of 157 regional projects and an array of local ones.