The third act of Georgia’s transportation tax follies began this week as the planning director of the Department of Transportation, Todd Long, announced his list of projects which could be funded with the tax increase. If passed by voters, Metro Atlanta taxpayers will be expected to pay an additional 8 Billion Dollars over the next ten years. With this week’s release of potential projects the state has winnowed the list down to a mere $23 Billlion. But since 23 Billion is nearly 300% of what can be expected from taxpayers the rest of the cuts will have to come from that master of efficiency known as a government committee.
The AJC has an article about this most recent revision of the transportation project list and you can read the whole thing here. Below are a few of the highlights:
A group of 21 local elected officials must take those $22.9 billion worth of projects and jettison about $15 billion of them, because the penny tax would raise only about $8 billion over its 10 years
For the moment, this is it: $14 billion worth of transit projects, $8.6 billion worth of road projects, $205 million in sidewalk and bicycle projects, and $28 million for aviation.
Long emphasized that the $14 billion price tag for all the transit was just a reflection of the high cost of new transit capital projects, not his opinion on how much the region should spend on such projects.
Bodker (Johns Creek mayor) is ambivalent about the idea of Ga. 400 transit. While he favors transit, he said it has to be the right project, a sustainable one, so he’d like to see it studied first. MARTA staff did not put the project on the agency’s list because of the difficulty and expense of crossing the Chattahoochee River to get to the next jobs center, staff members told their board.
But other officials in north Fulton favored putting the $839 million line on the list, Long said.
So the director of planning added an $839 million MARTA train extension to Roswell because “other officials in North Fulton” favored it. I can’t imagine who those other officials might be.
The MARTA train is projected to cost 10% of all the money collected from every taxpayer in the metro Atlanta area over ten years and wasn’t even requested by the people of Roswell. That is the kind of decision making which will doom this entire transportation tax boondoggle.
I am starting to believe that the tax increase is doomed. And while I never thought the tax increase was a good idea, it is sad that the state will have wasted two years by the time voters make it official.