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Footnotes Issue #55: March 5th, 2012
Transportation at a Crossroads
Since we last updated you on transportation issues after the all of the regional sales tax project lists were finalized, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It looks not at all likely that the T-SPLOST referendum will be pushed back to the general election in November, so voters need to decide whether they are for or against it on July 31st.
One lingering question about the T-SPLOST is around transit governance, i.e. who will administer the share of the money dedicated for transit projects? A pair of bills has been introduced to address this question, and unfortunately, they give the power to the state, which has yet to pony up and provide ongoing operating funds for transit. A pair of MARTA bills attempt to remove the 50/50 split that MARTA is bound to spend on capital/operating expenses, but in exchange for removing those restrictions, they find new ways to hamstring the agency. In the meantime, here are two things you can do to help us move forward.
Organizations around the Atlanta metro are beginning to weigh in on the regional transportation sales tax, which goes before voters on July 31. The Georgia Chapter has not taken a position yet, and our leaders need to hear from you. Please help inform our decision-making by taking a short survey. Opinions of our dues-paying members matter the most, but even if you haven't paid your dues, we are still interested in knowing your opinion. Been meaning to join? Sign up here.
The transit governance bills, SB 474 and HB 1199, would hand regional transit decicsion-making over to a 35-member "Transit Governance Council" with eight council seats held by appointees and nominees of the Governor and other state officials. Day-to-day operations would be led by a "transit governance director," also nominated by the Governor. Both the council and the director would be subject to veto by a state-appointed board of directors, the majority of which would be appointed by the Governor.
Legislation that specifically targets MARTA is also heading in the wrong direction. HB 1052 would restructure the agency's Board of Directors for the second time in as many years, this time boosting the influence of North Fulton County at the expense of Atlanta, DeKalb, and South Fulton. Meanwhile, one positive element of the original bill, a provision that would allow MARTA to contract with additional counties to provide rail service, was stripped by the House Transportation Committee. And none of the current transit proposals address a long-standing request of both regional leaders and transit advocates -- a "clean" removal of the onerous 50/50 spending restriction that dictates how MARTA can spend its own sales tax revenue.
Atlantans - You have the chance to vote for the MOST on Tuesday, March 6th. The Municipal Option Sales Tax is a 1-cent tax that applies to most goods purchased in the City of Atlanta. These funds allow visitors and business people who use the City's water and sewer infrastructure but do not pay City water/sewer bills to help pay for upgrading and maintenance of the infrastructure. This is NOT a new tax; it is the reauthorization of an existing tax.
Sierra Club Meetings
Cobb EMC Owners Association Candidate Endorsements - March 6-13
The Cobb EMC Owners Association (CEOA) will begin their final series of vetting sessions to select the CEOA endorsed candidates for EMC Service Areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9. All Cobb EMC customer and members are eligible to vote for every Area, regardless of which one you live in. The vetting sessions will all be conducted at Butch Thompson’s office at 2131 Moon Station Drive, Kennesaw on Tuesday , March 6, Thursday, March 8 and Tuesday, March 13. Bring your photo ID and your power bill. Sign up with Sierra Club to let us know you will be there supporting our green energy candidates.
Greenprints Conference March 7-8
Now in its 15th year, Greenprints is a high-level forum for the sustainability-driven conversations that define our times. A gathering place for regionally and nationally renowned building science and design experts, as well as building industry professionals, Greenprints facilitates conversations between researchers and on-the-ground practitioners.
Park Pride Annual Conference - March 26
Park Pride's 11th Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference promises to be the most ground breaking yet. Across the country, long-forgotten transportation corridors are being re-imagined as greenspaces. While The Atlanta BeltLine is the most notable local example of gray infrastructure becoming a green amenity, there are many success stories of communities looking to re-purpose neglected or even active highway corridors into park-like networks of trails and wildlife corridors.
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