Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rut-row! Looks like there could be trouble for DCSS and SPLOST IV

Mayor, schools at odds over penny

By Nancy Badertscher and Kristina Torres

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A potential showdown between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Public Schools over a penny in sales tax could jeopardize nearly $1.5 billion worth of school construction, maintenance and technology for the city and surrounding school systems, including Fulton and DeKalb counties.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Reed said the penny — which over nearly 15 years has helped build or renovate 84 city schools or other buildings, among other projects — instead needs to go to a regional transportation plan expected to be put to voters next year.

The penny is in play because it expires next year. Reed doesn’t want the city school system to seek to renew it as voters also consider the transportation tax. If both were to pass, the city would have the state’s highest sales tax at 9 percent and would be at a competitive disadvantage, the mayor said.

“Obviously, I’m very concerned about renewing the 1 percent sales tax in the city [for education] and then adding another penny,” Reed said.

The showdown looms as the city’s school board must decide whether to join with Fulton, DeKalb and the city of Decatur to ask voters to continue using the 1-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax to fund capital needs. The tax started in 1997 and has been renewed twice. The three other systems, which all want the sales tax to continue, cannot seek a referendum to do that without Atlanta schools’ participation.

Click here to read more.

47 comments:

David Montané said...

Sales taxes are a REGRESSIVE tax, meaning the less spending money you have, the higher your percentage going to taxes. So the poor suffer more the higher our sales taxes go up. (Property taxes and income taxes are progressive.)

Wouldn't it be great if both SPLOST IV and the new transportation tax got lost in the shuffle? Then all we would need is for MARTA to get sold to the highest bidder and we'd be down to a 5% sales tax! That would help lighten the heavy tax burden just a wee bit for small, local businesses and consumers.

Anonymous said...

An advantage to the 1 cent SPLOST tax: those that travel to and through metro Atlanta for conventions and tourism and spend money help the locals bear less burden overall than they would otherwise. You are right about the poor but unfortunately taxes don't stop them from non essentials like cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, electronics, and lottery tickets - at least the 1cent SPLOST tax includes luxuries that are optional so they can decide to some degree what impact it will have on them.

Ella Smith said...

I am not pleased with how the SPLOST money has been spent in the past. Look at Avondale Middle School which will now be closed due to attendance and other schools which are overcrowded without relief. Something does not appear to be right here. Apparently there may not have been such a need for a new Avondale Middle School if we are having to close it now. There was no long term planning here.

I am not for sure I am for SPLOST continuing. I do believe citizens are looking at the situation differently now. What is really best for all taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

With the superintendent's plan adding Avondale Middle to the Druid Hills district, maybe they have plans to use Avondale Middle as either replacing old Shamrock as the new Druid Hills Middle or using it as a 900 seat elementary school for the Avondale/Scottdale community. With its 948 student capacity, though, it would need a SPLOST IV expansion to be Druid Hills Middle.

David Montané said...

Atlanta may draw a lot of out-of-towners, but DeKalb certainly doesn't. Besides, the county is already taking advantage of them with huge lodging taxes. "Sin" taxes are already piled on tobacco and liquor sales, and we're not just talking about junk food, ALL our food has local sales taxes added on. Have you looked at your grocery bill? The lottery is a "stupid tax" that goes to pre-schools and universities, not to K-12.

Let me explain regressive taxes a different way. A higher percentage of sales taxes comes from the working class, including both poor and middle class, than from the wealthy and corporations.

Friends of DeKalb Schools is for reducing the "bloat" from DCSS spending so that the school portion of our property taxes can hopefully be reduced, or at least maintained at the current levels. SPLOST money gets used for good or evil, no matter how much comes in.

Cerebration said...

I agree with the mayor. We really, really need to invest in our regional transportation system - and it shouldn't come strictly off of the metro Atlanta tax base. The transportation component is key to continuing to bring convention business as well as new corporate investment to Georgia.

Adding it on top of the penny schools tax will make Atlanta undesirable for shopping. People will just make sure they shop in DeKalb or elsewhere. Besides, the school systems have had quite a bit of opportunity to bring in billions for school construction. Some of it went well, and some, well, not so good. Perhaps we should finish up what we have started, close and consolidate what we don't need, formulate a true vision for the future, and revisit a SPLOST school construction tax again one day in about 5-10 years.

In a nutshell, the gravy train must pause so that school systems can get their 'houses' in order—and prosecute the corrupt, while putting in place a plan for future spending, a qualified team to manage the spending and a system of checks and balances to prevent the kind of corruption and ineptness we endured in past SPLOSTs.

Anonymous said...

It might force them to sell off abandoned properties... and other assets to raise funds to do things with if we don't get SPLOST IV... maybe even go after folks who have siphoned money from the county... maybe even NB... gee, I could get used to the idea....

David Montané said...

I don't ever want to hear the word "invest" again in reference to how the government might use my tax money. An investment is something one does freely with one's capital to make a profit.

Whether spent on schools or transportation, a penny tax is money the government takes forcefully from the people and redistributes to special interests.

Central planning will perform just as poorly for this new regional transportation scheme as it did with AmTrak, MARTA and SPLOST I, II, and III.

Let me spend my income how I see fit. If a business develops a way to get from point A to point B better, easier, cheaper or faster, or can help me or my children learn something better, easier, cheaper or faster, I'll pay their rent, buy their product or services, or pay their tuition. If I have enough capital (because my taxes are low, including the stealth tax - inflation), I might even INVEST!

Cerebration said...

How does that translate to roads?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Montane,

I wish that you were this passionate about the children in DeKalb receiving a quality education. I'd pay double the taxes that I pay now, if I felt that I could send my child to school and that he'd receive a top notch education.

Many of our schools are falling apart. Yes, SPLOST money wasn't handled in the way that I would like to have seen it handled, but when does government handle tax money in a frugal, financially fiscally responsible way?

If I had to pick between a penny going to new school buildings and a penny going to MARTA, I pick my schools.

David Montané said...

Roads at one time were a private undertaking. A group of businesses or homeowners might get together to improve and expand trails or existing roads. When government central planners started getting involved, one of their assumptions was the same as what many commuters now assume - that we need more highways, or more lanes on our existing highways. All this did was allow more and more people to live farther and farther out in the suburbs and still work in the city. Whereas people previously lived close to their work, often walking, now they often live many miles away. Our quality of life has suffered and we go into fits and rages when there is a traffic jam. When we are enticed prematurely (by cheap goverment-backed loans) to buy cheap houses in the 'burbs, and then we get laid off from our jobs and have to drive further for a worse job with lower pay, we expect those same central planners to do something to help us.

How much faster do we want to go?

David Montané said...

Sorry, Anon 5:32, but I can't get passionate about paying for other people's children's education or school buildings. My father was forced to pay school taxes, but still chose to pay private school tuition for me and my 3 siblings, until we were old enough to pay our own tuition. He felt that was necessary to make sure we got the quality education he wanted for us.

I'm glad we can agree that government always misspends our tax money, and that the public schools are falling apart and not providing a quality education for children. Since you are willing to pay more for your children's education, I suggest that you find a private school with a modest tuition, or even home-school your children which can be done very inexpensively.

I wish the best for you and all the other DeKalb parents who are struggling with how to educate your children. I also wish the best for both public and private school teachers who are struggling with how to best educate your children.

By the way, while I am a Libertarian taxpayer, my non-partisan Friends of DeKalb Schools committee are parents, teachers and fellow tax-payers. We are currently focused on getting the DCSS check register posted online.

DaiQuan from Decatur said...

I for one would like to see a much higher splost, with a reduction in my property taxes. Stop treating the rich and corporations as gutterments personal piggy bank.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'm glad we can agree that government always misspends our tax money, and that the public schools are falling apart and not providing a quality education for children

I'm sorry, David, many of us do not agree with you. There are plenty of children receiving a fine education via our public schools - just look at the number of them accepted into universities all over the world.

In fact, in the most recent group of 63 Presidential Scholar nominees from the state of Georgia, there were only 12 nomineeds who attended private schools. Ooop...

I find it ironic that you critize DCSS for its lack of transparency, when you are hiding your own agenda here, which is the total destruction of public education. Your own words....

"My vision for the future of education in Georgia is that, by 2035, there will be NO MORE TAXPAYER-SUPPORTED EDUCATION in Georgia. Formal education will no longer be mandatory. The stakeholders in education will be the parents and students and teachers ONLY.

If students want to learn something or their parents want their children to be taught something, the students and/or parents will pay the tuition. Teachers will receive the full benefit of the tuition paid. Private schools which directly meet the educational needs or desires of families will proliferate, and children will learn to be responsible for their own learning. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends, neighbors, and charities will step forward to voluntarily contribute.


http://www.davidmontane.com/

Ella Smith said...

I am a supportor of public education. However, I do think the school system has wasted a great deal of money and really expected the money to keep coming.

We do need continued new construction and updates of our schools. However, I do not like the way I have seen a great deal of the money spent. We are even spending millions on a law suit due to the SPLOST IV issues or mistakes made by someone.

David Montané said...

One DM to another: 19% of Georgia Presidential Scholar nominees were from private schools? Seems like a high percentage to me! I'm pretty sure private students make up less than 10%. Someone correct me if you know the answer.

Thanks for republishing that old blog posting of mine for everyone here to see again. I couldn't have given myself better PR! If you had read the whole chain of my postings above, I am not sure I understand how you can say I am trying to hide anything.

I'm glad you and others, I assume mostly up in Dunwoody, are getting good education from our tax dollars. Not sure how much it has to do with gov't administrators though. I don't think you are giving yourself and the other parents enough credit.

BTW, on average around the country, public schools spend about 93% more per student than private schools. See "They Spend What! The Real Cost of Public Schools" at http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa662.pdf.

Anonymous said...

A penny here, a penny there, sometime it'll add up to real money.

$0.01 SPLOST generates about $100 million per year in from sales taxes in DeKalb County -- that's real money.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty clear by the way the redistricting decision came out that DCSS wanted to get N. Dekalb on board with SPLOST IV. Lakeside parents who thought they were going to be redistricted out are so grateful they got to stay that they are sending out e-mails to their neighbors urging them to support SPLOST IV to renovate Henderson Middle (because it is now overcrowded under the new redistricing plan!). Heck, it's possible that during their meetings with the county that they agreed to support SPLOST IV publicly if the county adopted their community plan.

SPLOST is no longer "special." The school system has gotten used to it as a regular income stream. It doesn't even really go towards what it was originally for, which was the construction of new schools and additional classrooms. Let it die, and give us some light rail instead.

Anonymous said...

I am praying that the board takes this possibility into consideration when they make the redistricting plans. We cannot count on having SPLOST and we need to keep the schools that are in the best condition. We also can't afford to over tax already overcrowded schools and building systems.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, residents want to keep all the small and old schools in the district but don't like the idea of paying SPLOST. What is the alternative to the upkeep of schools? It looks like you are saying you would rather homeowners pay more in property taxes. As an empty nester, I'd rather pay the penny tax as I know this is paid by everyone that makes purchases in DeKalb rather than putting the entire burden on home owners.

Anonymous said...

Henderson Middle is vastly overcrowded now. None of the plans--MGT's centralized or decentralized, SCORe, or Superintendent's--would ease the overcrowding. There is not enough middle school capacity anywhere in North or Central Dekalb to ease the overcrowding. So, unless Henderson neighborhood residents are bussed to south Dekalb, the only solution is to enlarge the school. And, Henderson is WAAAAYY overdue for renovations--it was never retrofitted when it was converted to a middle school from a high school. SPLOST III funds were available for HMS renovations, but now they seem to be lost in the furor over redistricting, indictments and lawsuits, or are being secretly committed to a second extensive renovation in less than a decade to Coralwood, which serves only a few hundred special needs students whereas Henderson serves almost 1500.

Anonymous said...

Just who's gonna buy unused DCSS properties? In case you're not aware, there is a tremendous real estate and financial slump going on right now.

Anonymous said...

I don't plan to vote for the next SPLOST. Just because a school is at the top of the list does not mean they will get fixed up. What bait and switch will they make next?

Cerebration said...

@ 10:43 PM - I suggest you lobby hard for the leftover SPLOST 3 money. There is about $30-40 million yet to be allocated. Our board should make sure that the money goes somewhere that effects the most students. Henderson certainly fits that bill.

Anonymous said...

Wrong...10:43pm. According to web site, work at Henderson, Shamrock, and Sequoyah MS is bidding now but don't get facts in the way of a usless complaint!!!

Yo, Montane', can you pull your head out of that rear orifice and actually look at the needs of DeKalb County School facilities?
Really???? 1 cent is too much for you to share??

"SPLOST money gets used for good or evil, no matter how much comes in." What kind of psycho babble is this? "Friends of DeKalb Schools"???? seriously??????

"Friends of DeKalb Schools" my arse...

Anonymous said...

@ 11:03, can you name the projects at the top of the SPLOST list that were not fixed? I thought everything was done, in fact some projects postponed because it was decided the renovations/additions were not needed and there were greater priorities. In fact, wasn't there a SPLOST surplus because projects came in under budget?

Ella Smith said...

Private schools are 4% of the students' educated in Ga. The percentage is high for that. You are correct and I am a supportor of public schools.

I for one would like to see a plan in place for the money to be spent for the next SPLOST IV. Let's look at long range goals and let the public decide for themselves. I think the problem is trust in the school system to make the right decisions about where the needs are. Let's truely meet the needs throughout the county. Let's stop playing politics with the funds.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Private schools are 4% of the students' educated in Ga. The percentage is high for that.

Well, seeing as only 7 of the 12 students were from Metro Atlanta - 5 from Westminster and 2 from Paideia....

Give it up, David. You're a fraud. "Friends of DeKalb" - LOL.

Anonymous said...

IMO supporting SPLOST IV is not supporting the kids because we cannot trust those who administer it to do the right thing. This would be like trying to support a gambler's children by giving the gambler more cash. Doesn't make sense, does it? The administration is going to have to completely turn over before I will trust anyone with any add'l funds.

Anonymous said...

Call Sembler and sell the N.Druid Hills property. Terrible location for a school. The county should offload that property.

Anonymous said...

This whole nightmare is about OUR tax money and how it's spent. The Feds want more our money, the state wants more of our money and the county wants more of our money. How about some honesty from the leadership? Stop spending on ridiculous programs that have no value to DeKalb. Right now, the only value we need is for the teachers to teach and the leadership to provide the tools for those teachers to teach. When the palace help gets cut by 15% then I might come around and say Ms. Tyson is headed in the right direction. Right now the palace was a fraud. The palace was never in any splost, yet 55 million was spent on that palace and their cushy $2000 chairs. Now they want more? ha ha ha ha ha ha......

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:30 AM - I should not have said the TOP of the list. I just don't think they can be trusted to spend it wisely. How many of us would have voted for a SPLOST if we knew it was going to the central office? I voted for the last ones to fix up schools.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow saying:
Not ready to give up on public schools, but agree with Montane on most other statements.
The passage of the gas taxes to build interstates created a nightmare.
Ring highways to escape the major highways, 4 lane roads to handle the overflow traffic off the interstates, off ramps decided to benefit big box retail owners that are friendly to the politicians. (Remember the outer perimeter? You could drive up in Gwinnett a few years ago and tell where the "right people" had been lucky enough to know where to buy land for their proposed Home Depots, etc).
The perpetual slush fund and build, build , build has resulted in the fattest, most prone to diabetes and high blood pressure generation that ever existed.
The best way to get government to represent the people, (Remember? Government working for US instead of vice versa?)is to practice tough love.
Allowing what we have in charge in Dekalb to spend our money is equivalent to:
Giving your 16 year old a brand new Infiniti, and then paying for two more to replace it.
The other two were bought because the first two were wrecked.
We could have saved 23-27 million by putting Stone Mountain Middle School on Mountain Industrial where the offices currently are. We would have saved an equivalent amount by doing some research that showed Avondale Middle would only be needed for, essentially 8 years.
PS: mothballing schools early on isn't a new phenomenon for Dekalb. Rehobeth Elementary (Brad Bryant center) was only used for 13 years after completion. I think Heritage was used for an even shorter period of time. Those in the background wait long enough for people not to remember what happened. Then they repeat it.

Anonymous said...

As an empty nester I do not generally object to paying school taxes to send other people's children to school. Looking back 30+ years ago, people like me In another city helped to pay for my children.

What I do object to is my money being wasted. DCSS is an out-of-control close to criminal enterprise dedicated to hiring friends and family and paying them good salaries with pension benefits guaranteed by present and future taxpayers.

It was particularly interesting to see last week that Ramona said that there really was not an $85 million deficit for the forthcoming school year and that DCSS could get by with no tax increase. Either Mr Turk does not know what he is doing or someone is playing games with my tax money.

Anonymous said...

The placement of some of the middle schools are baffling, but are probably understandable if we knew all the political connections and land deals that went on. Stone Mountain Middle is in a weird location(its almost in Tucker) and it is so close the the Mountain Industrial complex that it would have been better to have the middle school there. They put these middle schools at the borders of the district, with some closer to other high schools than the one they feed into. Maybe we need a middle school/high school shuffle to align them in a way that makes more sense, even making high schools middle schools and middle schools high schools or closed schools into middle or high schools if it makes sense. For instance, I wonder if Sequoyah and Henderson would be a good pairing for a district that centers around Embry Hills. I would think it would be better for kids from Doraville to go to Henderson rather than traveling across the county to Cross Keys. Now, I know of one problem, beside any traffic issues or objections from some in these communities, would be the size of the schools. According to the numbers, these areas have a lot of middle school and high school students living there, so the schools would need to be bigger to support the population.
As for Avondale Middle, I believe that it has the highest educational adequacy score at 95, while Shamrock or Druid Hills Middle has the lowest at 57. It would not shock me one bit if they moved Druid Hills Middle to Avondale Middle if they can find a way to increase capacity. Plus they can just go ahead and close Laurel Ridge because with decreasing the numbers of students who attend there, they could just send them to Medlock instead and keep Medlock open. Then they could make Laurel Ridge and Shamrock into more administration buildings for the Rehoboth community, ending 150+ years of educational history for that area.
BTW, from what I can tell, Rehoboth Elementary was built in 1961 and its last school year was 1982-1983. Of course, that was a replacement for an older building built in the 1930's, which replaced an older building, and so on, going back to the early days of DeKalb. Rehoboth Elementary might still be around or at least lasted longer if they hadn't sent some of it students to the much farther away Idlewood Elementary. But Rehoboth ended up closing, splitting the students up between Laurel Ridge, Briarlake, and Brockett, then converting Shamrock to a middle school, splitting up the students between Druid Hills, Lakeside, and Tucker. Now, they want the Rehoboth community split between four elementary schools feeding into three middle/high school districts. Thank you DCSS for causing more damage to the Rehoboth community than I-285 ever did.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, if you are for more taxes, then why don't you give more than you are supposed to at tax time?

Why don't you give the govt. all your money? I don't like to be forced to give my hard earned money to a government who is known for being wasteful.

NO MORE TAXES!!!!

Anonymous said...

DM, government schools have failed us.

If you are waiting on the government to educate your children, you have failed yourself and your children.

Anonymous said...

I don't count on the government educating my children. I realize that as a parent I have ultimate responsibility for that. However, I want the society to be educated and believe that with minimum effort our government schools could be doing a much better job. Pouring more money into our schools is not the answer. Our public schools spend more money than most private schools and do a much poorer job.

Problems are everywhere. People running the schools and curriculum have a little over five years teaching experience among the two of them. This makes no sense to me. Our school employees are riddled with people who are dishonest. We wait for the Lewis/Pope trials to begin, unsure if they will ever go to trial or if DCSS will go bankrupt before it does. We have many frivolous law suits and much money spent on lawyers that should be used for our schools-when will this madness end?

I believe in public schools to keep American going, but as they stand now, I am sure that I could do more with the money that I spend on taxes for our local schools and those that go to the US Department of Education to educate my own children on my own.

Not sure if or when the public school systems will improve. It is discouraging, as I worry about the children and families who want more for their children, but can't afford to get them out of DCSS.

Anonymous said...

What I worry about with my tax money is the billion dollars in tax money we spend to imprision an inordinately large number of inimates in Georgia. That's more per inmate than college tuition. I'd rather spend some of that on education any day. Maybe we'd get some more productive citiizens and tax payers and that would lower our tax burden and still provide the services that we all demand and do not want to support in paying taxes.

Ella Smith said...

At this point it is about trust and there is a mistrust of our school system and our government to do the right thing regarding the metro roads. The metro roads also benifit everyone in Georgia, just like that fish pond benifits everyone in Ga. What is the difference?

Anonymous said...

In my two decades near Laurel Ridge, I've never ever heard of the "Rehoboth community"???

Anonymous said...

I used to believe that the government was educating our children and that this was an apppropriate use of our tax money. The more we see and learn about DCSS the more I believe that DCSS is a criminal enterprise. The more stories there are about high school kids reading at a 3rd grade level the more I belive that it is time for vouchers -- not vouchers to eliminate public schools but vouchers to eliminate the ability of the centeral office to steal the money away from the kids -- let the vouchers be used to choose between the public schools and let a portion of a voucher be used by those so inclined for private school (with appropriate supplementation by other entities -- parents or financial aid) -- perhaps that will cut down on all of the embezzlement. I think that the heery-mitchell trial is lagging so long becuase it's covering up something huge..... this is just the tip of the iceberg and it's about to fall over. A voucher for $7500 or $10,000 in the hands of every parent in the district would do more to "spread the wealth" and control the "crime" and facilitate the possibility of education with actual competition than anything DCSS has had for decades.... and we know it really coudn't be any worse.......

Oh Well said...

Many seem to think that voting against SPLOST IV will be an effective ‘punishment’ against the DCSS and the Board of Education for their prior misdeeds and misrepresentations. I, for one, do not see this action as being a particularly effective measure in meeting that goal, and it may actually be detrimental to the average taxpayer’s pocketbook. As a Tucker resident and parent, I have every intention of supporting SPLOST IV. As my community has benefitted greatly from the recent SPLOST programs with our new middle and high schools, it would be self-serving for me to now argue against a tax that would support new construction spending in other parts of the county.

Everyone should realize that DCSS will continue its construction and renovation program regardless of how it is funded. There are three primary sources for construction funding – SPLOST (local option sales taxes), property taxes and taxpayer supported interest bearing bonds. If SPLOST IV is cancelled or voted down, then DCSS will look to other funding sources, either by reallocating existing funds, increasing property taxes and/or issuing construction bonds. DeKalb County taxpayers will continue to pay at any rate, our students will suffer from reduced funding or delayed maintenance, the local community may have less input with how construction spending is allocated, and wealthier county residents will almost certainly be paying more than they would under SPLOST. If you vote against SPLOST, you can expect to be paying more in other taxes.

Mr. Monané is correct in pointing out that the SPLOST is a regressive tax, in that poorer households will be taxed a greater overall percentage of their income. One could argue, in fact, that wealthier residents, in their own self interest, should be fully in support of SPLOST in lieu of increased property taxes, while advocates for the poor should be adamantly against SPLOST if their goal is to shift the tax burden further to the wealthy.

The advantage to SPLOST funding is that it is specifically restricted to construction spending, provides a predictable income stream (normally) and generally avoids additional financing costs in the form of long term interest. One other supposed advantage to SPLOST is that it technically passes some of the tax onto non-residents, to include out of town visitors and Atlanta, Fulton and Gwinnett residents shopping or doing business in DeKalb County. Of course this is more than balanced by the fact that DeKalb residents spend as much if not more in adjacent counties. That is why it is important that ALL the Atlanta core school districts enact SPLOST at the same time so that everyone in metro Atlanta is impacted equally. In that regard it becomes an all or nothing proposition, and illustrates how the debate in Atlanta directly impacts DeKalb residents.

So you “wealthier” North DeKalb residents should go right ahead and vote against SPLOST IV to make your point against the school board, just so you know you’ll simply end up paying more on the other end.

Cerebration said...

This article is about the mayor wishing to put the penny toward regional transportation. The additional SPLOST penny for schools will put Atlanta at an economic disadvantage since it will be pushed to 8 cents on the dollar. He wants to forgo the school tax and put our money into transportation. It's really not a discussion about whether or not SPLOST itself is a good idea.

Oh Well said...

The Mayor is advocating that the money generated from the City of Atlanta SPLOST be moved from funding school construction to funding REGIONAL transportation measures because he doesn’t want Atlanta to be at an economic disadvantage by adding an extra penny to the City sales tax. So it would follow that since Atlanta cannot fund any transportation plan by itself, he is actually advocating that ALL of metro Atlanta buy into his plan for SPLOST funding for transportation. So the choice then becomes do ALL of the local governments add the extra SPLOST penny on top of what we have now, or do ALL of the local governments change their SPLOST program from schools to transportation.

As this decision will ultimately fall to the taxpaying voters, we are being asked to CHOOSE whether we want our SPLOST generated funds be doubled to fund both programs, be used to only support local school construction, be redirected to only support regional transportation programs, or be discontinued altogether. So Cere, it actually IS a discussion about whether or not SPLOST itself is a good idea. If you support SPLOST as a money generator in general, but have reservations about giving to DCSS, you might be inclined to support the change. If you dislike SPLOST altogether, then your choice is obvious. The fact of the matter is that waste and abuse of tax money is going to happen no matter what government entity you give it to. So a discussion of the value of SPLOST in general is certainly warranted, and given the commentary often found in this blog, probably long overdue.

The reality that has been amply demonstrated over the years is that Atlanta no longer establishes the priorities for metro wide issues and that Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Clayton Counties will not follow Atlanta’s lead. I cannot imagine there being any consensus among local governments about what to do about transportation, beyond an acknowledgement that we have a problem that will only get worse. Any regional solution must come from the State, and with the economy being what it is, and with the pathetic political leadership we have at all levels of government, don’t expect anything tangible anytime soon. The Mayor’s plan will disappear into political oblivion, and we’ll be back to debating the value of SPLOST for local schools.

Anonymous said...

If there is no splost, those of us who own property will pay more in property taxes. Ergo we will still have our money confiscated by DCSS, and we will pay a penny towards the poorly run MARTA system. AMAZING

Anonymous said...

Oh Well says "The advantage to SPLOST funding is that it is specifically restricted to construction spending, provides a predictable income stream (normally) and generally avoids additional financing costs in the form of long term interest."

The purpose of DeKalb SPLOST is to provide a slush fund so that inflated administrative salaries for a bloated staff can be maintained instead of properly using normal tax money for construction.