Atlanta Voters Reject 1-Percent Transportation Sales Tax

August 1, 2012

Voters across Georgia yesterday went to the polls to decide whether to adopt a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST). The state was divided into 12 multicounty regions, and voters defeated the tax in nine of them.

The most closely watched T-SPLOST was in Atlanta, where it would have imposed a 1 percent sales tax increase for ten years. The $6.1 billion it would raise would have funded 157 different transportation projects, ranging from new interstate highway construction, extending a line of the MARTA rapid transit system, and improving roads. The project list was about half roads, half transit. Only 37 percent voted in favor of the Atlanta T-SPLOST.

Voters seemed to balk at the long list of projects (one legislator derided much of it as pork that would have no impact on commutes) without a key attention-getting project, the vagueness of some of the items, and the sense that other areas would benefit more.

Atlanta has long had woes with transportation funding, with tax defeats, withdrawals from transportation districts, and a state government unwilling to spend much on local transit.

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