Atlanta’s MOST approved after campaign similar to transportation sales tax

By David Pendered

Left with no viable “Plan B,” nearly 18 percent of Atlanta’s registered voters turned out Tuesday to pass the extension of the penny sales tax for sewer improvements by an overwhelming margin.

The outcome has implications for the upcoming referendum on a regional 1 percent sales tax for transportation improvements. There is no “Plan B” in that campaign, either.

In the sewer tax campaign, Atlanta voters were told that “Plan B” was for water rates to rise by as much as 30 percent if the 1 percent sales tax were not extended. In the transportation sales tax, voters are being told that there is no “Plan B” to fund mobility improvements if the proposed sales tax is rejected.

Of note in Tuesday’s election was the outcome of the only fund-raising measure on the ballot in metro Atlanta. Marietta voters approved a $7 million school bond by a 53-to-47 percent margin, in unofficial results. The money will help build a theater at Marietta High School.

The sewer tax in Atlanta is on most goods and services in the city. Its passage will hold the line on water rates paid by consumers in Atlanta, as well as in Sandy Springs and other areas that buy water and sewer from Atlanta.

Justin Giboney

Justin Giboney, MOST 2012 campaign manager

In Atlanta, just over 17.7 percent of voters turned out to pass the 1 percent sales tax. The turnout of 41,533 voters was about half the number who voted in the 2009 run-off election for Atlanta mayor. The run-off attracted about 11,000 more voters than the general election.

The sewer sales tax was approved by 85.4 percent of votes cast, according to incomplete and unofficial results from the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections.

Click here to read precinct returns.

Provisional ballots have yet to be counted, and the board has to certify the election results for the county to become official.

MOST campaign manager Justin Giboney said before the election that he was hopeful the measure would pass as voters became educated about the issue. Mayor Kasim Reed was the primary spokesman delivering the message.

“There never was a whole lot of opposition – no party line dissension or anything like that,” Giboney said. “The only opposition was maybe a lack of information, and I think we’ve done a great job of fighting against that.”

Reed served as the campaign’s primary spokesman. Former Mayor Andrew Young served as campaign chairman, and the treasurer was Robert Highsmith, an Atlanta attorney who also served as treasurer of Reed’s mayoral campaign.

“Our focus has been putting the facts out there and advocating for this,” Giboney said. “We’ve been taking people to the polls [for early voting, robo calls, activities like that.”

Results from three different neighborhoods provide a snapshot of the results:

  • At Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church, in northwest Atlanta on Hamilton E. Holmes Drive, the turnout was 17 percent and the sales tax was approved by 90 and rejected by five;
  • At Grady High School gym, in northeast Atlanta across 10th Street from Piedmont Park, the turnout was 14.2 percent and the sales tax was approved by 450 and rejected by 68;
  • At Cathedral of St. Philip, in Buckhead on Peachtree Road, the turnout was 18.1 percent and the sales tax was approved by 74 and rejected by 36.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

12 replies
  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    MOST sales tax is decidedly different from the transportation sales tax, for these reasons:
    1. MOST is to continue an existing sales tax, while the transportation sales tax is to institute a new tax, on top of MOST and every other tax.
    2. MOST resulted from the leadership failure of multiple Atlanta mayors and city councils. They shoved the wastewater debacle under the rug for decades, until they were finally forced by the US courts to deal with it on an accelerated basis. The cost to the taxpayers would have been much less had the problems been addressed in a timely manner. Instead, the costs were magnified by the short time frame dictated by the courts (and which the City has now acknowledged that it will not meet). Add to the costs the additional costs involved with the federal and City affirmative action contracting requirements, and you have the financial hemorrhage that necessitated extension of MOST.Report

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Burroughston Broch
      “Add to the costs the additional costs involved with the federal and City affirmative action contracting requirements, and you have the financial hemorrhage that necessitated extension of MOST.”
       
       
      By city affirmative action contracting requirements you mean the practice that the city has had since the Maynard Jackson Administration that has required that a certain percentage (most) of city contracts go to minority companies.
       
      Which is really nothing more than BLACK good-ol’-boy cronyism in action at the city government level in Atlanta as opposed to the WHITE good-ol’-boy cronyism that is a well-entrenched common practice at the state government level of government in Georgia. 
       Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Burroughston Broch
       Prime example of white good-ol’-boy cronyism: Roadpaving contracts awarded to roadbuilding firms by the state through the shameful and utterly dysfunctional mess that the Georgia Department of Transportation has collapsed into in recent years.
       
      I’ve seen and experienced the very negative results of both white good-ol’-boy cronyism at the state level and black good-ol’-boy cronyism at the city level firsthand so I know of what I speak from personal experience. Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Burroughston Broch
      Add to the costs the additional costs involved with the federal and City affirmative action contracting requirements, and you have the financial hemorrhage that necessitated extension of MOST.”
       
       By city affirmative action contracting requirements you mean the practice that the city has had since the Maynard Jackson Administration that has required that a certain percentage (most) of city contracts go to minority companies.
       Which is really nothing more than BLACK good-ol’-boy cronyism in action at the city government level in Atlanta as opposed to the WHITE good-ol’-boy cronyism that is a well-entrenched and commonly-accepted practice at the state government level of government in Georgia.
       Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @Burroughston Broch
       Prime example of white good-ol’-boy cronyism: Roadpaving contracts awarded to roadbuilding firms by the state through the shameful and utterly dysfunctional mess that the Georgia Department of Transportation has collapsed into in recent years.
       I’ve seen and experienced the very negative results of both white good-ol’-boy cronyism at the state level and black good-ol’-boy cronyism at the city level firsthand so I know of what I speak from personal experience.Report

      Reply
      • Burroughston Broch says:

         @The Last Democrat in Georgia  Good ol’ boy cronyism was never written into law while Atlanta’s affirmative action contracting provisions have been law for almost 40 years. The good ol’ boys changed with each change of administration while Atlanta’s institutionalized version never changes. Want to explain to everyone how Maynard Jackson’s daughter Brooke and Shirley Franklin’s children are disadvantaged persons?Report

        Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @Burroughston Broch
           That’s the thing.  Some entities, like the City of Atlanta, have written their good-ol’-boy cronyism into law, mainly to antagonize the white good-ol’-boys that they felt haven’t and never would give them a fair chance to play the game along with the whites, while the cronyism of other entities, like the state of Georgia, goes without saying.  Doesn’t matter how it’s sliced and diced because two wrongs don’t make a right and, at the end of the day, it’s all still cronyism.  Game-rigging cronyism where only the most politically well-connected get repeated chances to not only play the game, but win it.  Whether it’s the Atlanta Airport or the Georgia Department of Transportation, the skin color of the people rigging the game may be different, but the rampant cheating on which the “game” is premised remains the same. Report

          Reply
        • Burroughston Broch says:

           @The Last Democrat in Georgia  I think that the City’s version is even more corrupt because (1) any entity that “wins” a bid must have a friend of the black power structure as a team member, (2) the white contractors easily circumvent the City’s system by various method while City Hall looks the other way, and (3) the long-suffering City taxpayers have to pay the inflated price.Report

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @Burroughston Broch
           One may be able to reasonably argue whose corruption is worse as the City of Atlanta’s corruption is pretty bad as I have experienced it firsthand, but the State of Georgia also has a pretty good argument for taking home the crown on this one as corruption surrounding and within one of the state’s most critically-important organizations, the Georgia Department of Transportation, has rendered it almost completely useless and making it unable to execute even the simplest of organizational functions (accounting, routine road maintenance, etc) during a time of very difficult transportation and mobility challenges.Report

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @Burroughston Broch
           Crippling organizational dysfunction within the Georgia Department of Transportation, which has resulted directly from rampant corruption within the state government that controls the agency and is wholly responsible for the agencies daily operations and basic functions, has also had a domino effect on the functionality of other crucial transportation agencies within government at the state, regional and local levels including SRTA, GRTA and MARTA.  The way that transportation management, or the total lack thereof, has been approached by state government rears its ugly head everyday in the crippling at least twice-daily traffic jams of Biblical proportions that virtually every Atlantan who drives is subject to participating in with few, if any other transportation options available for commuting into and out of the city even after an extended period of crushing population growth.Report

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @Burroughston Broch
           Not-to-mention the massive amounts of lobbyist money and gifts that flows directly to state legislators in the Georgia General Assembly, amounts for which there is no cap under state law in a situation that the General Assembly refuses to address because they don’t want the unlimited money and gifts to stop flowing from the corporate interests out to directly influence state law through the legislators themselves (for starters see State Representative Kip Smith who was busted for DUI after a night of drinking at lobbyist-sponsored dinners for legislators or House Speaker David Ralston who took a $17,000 family vacation to Europe on the dime of a German trainmaker).  In most states, including every state that surrounds Georgia, legislators can accept NO gifts or cash or are at the very least heavily restricted in what they accept from lobbyists, but in Georgia legislators can accept UNLIMITED money and gifts from lobbyists.  Sorry Mr. Broch, but even with the blatant corruption that runs rampant at Atlanta City Hall, the State of Georgia may have the city beat on this one.Report

          Reply

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