Atlanta’s District 7 City Councilman Howard Shook speculates bonds will be the next proposed solution to pay for transportation projects after voters on July 31 overwhelmingly defeated a proposal for a penny sales tax.
Though the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax took a thumping at the polls regionally, losing 2 to 1 among voters, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that city of Atlanta voters approved it 58 percent to 42 percent.
Shook said District 7 voters approved it by five points, which he said surprised him. He said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will likely try to build on that support.
“I would guess that the administration would start looking at the possibility of going to Atlanta voters to sell bonds to do a list of city-only projects,” Shook said.
If TSPLOST had passed, the Atlanta Beltline project would’ve received more than $600 million of the $8 billion the tax was expected to raise for transportation projects. Shook noted the Beltline’s slice of the pie was a sticking point for critics of the proposed tax.
Other Buckhead representatives were stunned by the overwhelming defeat of the plan.
“I kind of thought it was going to go down in flames, but not as badly as it did,” said Buckhead’s Neighborhood Planning Unit B chairwoman Sally Silver.
North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain said he was disappointed by the result. He doesn’t think the state will try to sell a similar plan to voters any time soon.
“I don’t think there is any compromise that will come out of looking at it again. It’s going to cost us a couple of years at best,” Certain said. “I took my pro-TSPLOST sign down a few minutes ago. A lot of good it did.”
District 9 Atlanta City Councilwoman Felicia Moore said the result shows the depths of the public’s skepticism about the plan and the leaders selling it.
“The No. 1 issue is trusting government,” Moore said.
District 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean said elected leaders will face hard choices in the months ahead.
“It’s not going to be an easy solution and it’s probably going to be multi-faceted,” Adrean said. “We need to look at the gas tax and take an inventory of the most critical infrastructure needs of the city and state and sit down and figure out how it’s going to be funded.”