Wednesday, July 31, 2013

TSPLOST One Year Later

It is an ignominious anniversary. One year ago 9 of the 12 regions voted against the TSPLOST (a local one cent sales tax pegged for transportation). Of course, one of those regions was Atlanta.

It should be remembered that even supporters of TSPLOST considered it a crap sandwich. It was so full of poison pills and political chicanery that even those desperate for transportation relief pulled levers reluctantly.

Of course this didn't prevent the Atlanta Tea Party (conveniently headquartered in Dacula) from claiming credit.

Rightly so. To a degree.

They used a broad coalition of traditional rivals such as The Sierra Club and the NAACP to lash TSPLOST from stem to stern. Also, anxious to show they were not just the voice of "NO", they promised to use their new power and take leadership in the new tax free transportation world that followed.

Atlanta Tea Party's Debbie Dooley promised the marriage of convenience with The Sierra Club would continue and together they would work a executing a "Plan B". Prior to the vote, they presented one version (see below). After the election, didn't hear much about it ever again. You would think a group that in Dooley's words "took on the governor, the lieutenant governor, the mayor, big business and slick political consultants...emerged victorious" would be revel in strikiing off additional victories.

Here's what they proprosed four days before the vote:

1) Discard the current three different taxes on motor fuel and enact a single motor fuel tax, based on the value of the commodity and allowed to rise and fall with price inflation, dedicated solely to funding transportation with a portion[a] of the motor fuel tax receipts available for “all transportation purposes,” including operating costs as well as capital and maintenance.

2) Allow any two or more local governments to create, and fully fund, transportation projects to meet the needs of their citizens through referenda on local motor fuel or sales taxes, and other revenue sources.
a) Allow referenda to levy local fractional sales taxes and motor fuel taxes of less than one percent for local transportation funding purposes.
b) Leave decisions over specific allowable allocations of local transportation taxes and fees in control of the local governments and their agencies that administer them, free from State interference.
c) Allow combinations of local governments to form fiscal partnerships with GA DOT for sharing capital and/or operating costs of local transportation projects to meet the needs of their citizens.
3) Before elected officials are given more money they need to show they can be trusted with what they have. As a first step toward transparency and accountability, DOT Board members should be elected at annual public meetings of Congressional District Legislative Caucuses in each Congressional District for open public election (no secret ballots) to one-year terms of service and review of transportation activities in the District.
4) Before MARTA is expanded, it should be brought up to date on maintenance and be restored to a reasonable level of service.
a) The Legislature should end its interference in MARTA budgets and resume an oversight role. Voters and elected officials where the MARTA tax is collected (Fulton, Dekalb and Atlanta) should decide how MARTA revenue should be spent.
b) The hotel/motel tax the City of Atlanta collects yearly should in some part go to MARTA or transportation needs, not to be used to build a new stadium for the Falcons.
c) Other options that should be considered include distance based user fares, charge for parking at MARTA lots, use part of the hotel/motel tax to help fund MARTA — even consider raising the tax to fund transportation needs.

Other than bitching about the new stadium, do you remember hearing anything about any of that during the last legislative session? Yeah. Me neither.

What has happened is true to his word, Governor Deal has executed his plan B - I decide what gets built where.

Good for those living at either end of GA-400. For everyone else? Not so much.

Same as it ever was.

1 comment:

Dave Bearse said...

My mind's association between between "Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club" and "Transportation Idiots" shouldn't be as weak as it is given it's only been a year.