By Eva Galambos
lts from other cities in the U.S. of similar size. In many instances, Sandy Springs residents expressed even greater satisfaction than the peer comparisons.
However, one area that elicited complaints was TRAFFIC. Congestion on the roads and delays at rush hours are frequent complaints. They mirror the reality of the situation: ever more cars, without adequate arteries to take care of them, and a very limited public transportation system to take the load off the streets.
The Atlanta metro region will be voting in another year on whether to tax ourselves an extra 1-cent sales tax in order to pay for major transportation improvements. This would include both road and transit improvements, and, of course, Sandy Springs is doing everything in its power to get our transportation projects approved in the competition for funded projects out of the available funds, if the 1-cent tax is approved next year in the referendum.
This is a big “if.”
The issue is that Fulton and DeKalb county residents already are paying a 1-cent tax for MARTA. None of the other counties in the region now contribute. But of course we know that folks from Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties ride our MARTA system too, although they do not have to pay the penny MARTA sales tax.
If the referendum passes, two counties (Fulton and DeKalb) would pay 2 cents in sales tax, while the others would pay 1 cent.
The mayors of the municipalities in Fulton and DeKalb counties have addressed this inequity and are demanding the problem be addressed before we are asked to vote in the referendum.
The major issue boils down to this: We need a regional transit system to which the residents of all the metro Atlanta counties will contribute to finance public transportation. This means that all public transportation systems, including MARTA, need to be joined into one system, and that the entire region pay for that system out of the new 1-cent sales tax.
My feeling is that if I knew the other counties and their residents were contributing to a coordinated regional transit system with the new tax, then I would probably accept that we would still be paying 2 cents while others are paying 1 cent.
Until we mayors of Fulton and DeKalb municipalities see concrete evidence that a regional transit system is going to be in place, funded on a truly regional basis, we question the support for the new tax in next year’s referendum.
Eva Galambos is the mayor of Sandy Springs.