I continue to address the points raised by Paul in our discussion of MARTA:
Commenter: “the voters themselves approved both the construction of MARTA and the 1% sales tax to maintain MARTA. Fulton and DeKalb voters chose to support MARTA, so I stand by my assertion that it is in no way a “drain” on taxpayers.”
Response: I see no connection between the fact that voters approved the 1% sales tax in 1971 and your assertion that the tax is not a drain on today’s taxpayers. The fact that voters approved the tax makes it legal but it has no bearing on the fiscal soundness of that vote 40 years later.
Commenter: “In addition, it is not a “$350,000,000″ cost for taxpayers”
Response: You are right. MARTA will not cost taxpayers $350 million in 2010. According to MARTA’s fiscal year 2010 budget (available online) they project $476,932,780 in revenue from taxpayers. I had completely forgotten about the money coming from the federal government in addition to the sales tax. Thank you for pointing that out.
Commenter: “You quoted Beverly Scott, that she would “need a one-cent sales tax in the eight metro counties outside the Perimeter, plus 65 percent of an additional penny tax in Fulton and DeKalb just to keep MARTA running as it is.” In fact, this is the very plan that Republican Governor Perdue, as well as the Atlanta Regional Commission (sp.), support.”
Response: Governor Sonny Perdue’s plan is not being portrayed as an additional MARTA tax. The Governor says he is proposing another 1% tax on Georgia taxpayers as a solution to all of the transportation problems here in the state. Do you really expect voters in Gwinnett and Cobb Counties to approve an additional 1% sales tax on themselves to support a transportation system that doesn’t even serve them? And the extra tax won’t solve our transportation problems in Fulton and DeKalb Counties if it will barely keep MARTA “running as it is”. Now is the time for Metro Atlanta voters to find out the truth so we can vote on the tax increase intelligently.
Commenter: “We already have by far the lowest tax rates of any developed country.”
Response: Your statement is false. The United States does not have “by far the lowest tax rates of any developed country.” You can see for yourself at this link: http://www.worldwide-tax.com/index.asp#partthree If you have any evidence to support your claim please provide it.
Commenter: “the majority of taxpayers in this two-county area are supportive of MARTA.”
Response: We will find out how supportive they are when the voters are asked to double their MARTA sales tax as part of Sonny Perdue’s transportation plan. A tax increase of 600 million dollars in metro Atlanta may not go over as well in this economy as it did in 1971.
I don’t have the energy to address the “equity” issue of MARTA tonight so I will break for now and pick up at this point later.
A commenter has asked me to explain the $476 million dollar number cited above.
The number is taken from MARTA’s 2010 Budget Book available online at:
Click to access FY10BudgetBook.pdf
On page 39 of the report is an overview of MARTA’s total funding sources for Fiscal Year 2010. In the chart MARTA identifies projected revenues of:
Sales tax $306,346,000
Federal Assistance 170,586,780