MARTA board reviewing fall out from 2012 legislative session

By Maria Saporta

The MARTA board is exploring all options to meet a potential shortfall in operating dollars in 2013 as a result of the state legislature not acting to remove the 50-50 restriction in how the agency spends its sales tax revenue.

When MARTA was created, there was a stipulation that 50 percent of its budget go towards capital spending and 50 percent towards operating. Since MARTA has been unable to expand the system, it has sought the flexibility to spend more of the tax revenue on operating expenses.

The agency had been given a three-year reprieve on that restriction, but that runs out on June 30, 2013. The state legislature had considered removing the restriction altogether or removing it for at least another three years. But in the closing minutes of the session, the MARTA bill failed to pass.

The MARTA board held a specially-called meeting Monday morning to discuss the implications of the failure of the legislature to act.

According to a report from Davis Allen, MARTA’s chief financial officer, reinstating the 50-50 restriction will tighten MARTA’s already squeezed budget by an additional $9.7 million over the next three years.

MARTA Board Chairman Fred Daniels said that raising fares and cutting more service would be a last resort for the agency. Instead, board members are looking at any other possible ways to raise more revenues to make up for that shortfall.

At the same time, it is estimated that the sales tax revenue from the MARTA penny will decline due to drop in consumer spending in the City of Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties — the jurisdictions that collect the MARTA tax.

Theoretically, the legislature could rectify this issue during the 2013 General Assembly, but MARTA has to put together its budget with the assumption that the 50-50 restriction will remain.

At the end of the meeting, the MARTA board did not take any action. But it will continue to explore all possible options to keep the system running.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

6 replies
  1. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “MARTA board reviewing fall out from 2012 legislative session”
     
    They’re not the only ones as pretty much the entire state is reviewing the fallout from this farcical circus that shamefully calls itself a state legislature.Report

    Reply
  2. Huxley Nixon says:

    Having the ability to dip into capital reserve funds to cover operating expenses is not a good idea if the infrastructure upkeep and replacement projections are realistic but setting an arbitrary 50/50 split does not make sense either. Whoever oversees MARTA needs to be held accountable to hire a PROVEN leader  to make sure management is competent, efficient and effective to run MARTA (TOP NOTCH)., then determined intelligently what capital reserves are needed and go from there.  If the oversight Board is incompetent, then the legislature ought to worry about how to put a majority of competent business types in place of possible neighborhood leaders with no such experience (OK to have representation but NOT control).  I am not familiar with the selection process to become a MARTA Board member but get POLITICS out of it!
     
    Huxley NixonReport

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Huxley Nixon
      “If the oversight Board is incompetent, then the legislature ought to worry about how to put a majority of competent business types in place of possible neighborhood leaders with no such experience (OK to have representation but NOT control).”
       
      That’s the thing, the State Legislature is itself one of the most, if not THE MOST dysfunctional part of this process as they are pretty much wildly incompetent as what has rapidly degenerated into what is arguably THE WORST STATE LEGISLATURE IN AMERICA, the absolute WORST OF THE WORST.  The Georgia General Assembly has become so spectacularly inept and so incredibly corrupt that it often can’t even complete the most simplest of legislative tasks these days. 
       
       “I am not familiar with the selection process to become a MARTA Board member but get POLITICS out of it!”
       
      Kind of hard to do with a city government, county government and a state government that interjects a lethal dose of political gamesmanship and demogoguery into everything these days.
      State government these days seems to have developed a nasty habit of taking extreme pleasure in sticking it to local governments as opposed to even attempting to being of minimal help to local governments.Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Huxley Nixon
      “If the oversight Board is incompetent, then the legislature ought to worry about how to put a majority of competent business types in place of possible neighborhood leaders with no such experience (OK to have representation but NOT control).”
       
      That’s the thing, the State Legislature is itself one of the most, if not THE MOST dysfunctional part of this process as they are pretty much wildly incompetent as what has rapidly degenerated into what is arguably THE WORST STATE LEGISLATURE IN AMERICA, the absolute WORST OF THE WORST.  The Georgia General Assembly has become so spectacularly inept and so incredibly corrupt that it often can’t even complete the most simplest of legislative tasks these days.
       
      “I am not familiar with the selection process to become a MARTA Board member but get POLITICS out of it!”
       
      Kind of hard to do with a city government, county government and a state government that interjects a lethal dose of political gamesmanship and unnecessary demagoguery into everything these days.
      State government these days seems to have developed a nasty habit of taking extreme pleasure in sticking it to local governments as opposed to even attempting to being of minimal help to local governments.
       Report

      Reply

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