The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously to put a referendum on the November ballot to allow voters to decide whether MARTA will get an extra half-cent in sales tax for expansion projects.

In July, the council will take up a potential second referendum for a transportation sales tax – or TSPLOST – to fund bike trails, sidewalk and road projects for five years. If voters approve another half-penny for the TSPLOST along with approving the MARTA tax, that would increase the city’s sales tax to 9 percent – the highest in the state.

Councilmember Felicia Moore said she voted for the MARTA tax referendum, but said “sales tax is regressive.” She said many of her constituents depend on MARTA to get to work and shopping, so she said expanding the system would help, while the sales tax will hurt.

“The poorest among are the ones being the most hurt by it,” Moore said. “The new way of funding projects is to ratchet up sales tax. People who are dependent on MARTA don’t have the option to go somewhere else with a lower sales tax to buy goods and services.”

Before the vote, Councilmember Kwanza Hall had three infill stations at Mechanicsville and Krog/Hulsey Yard,  identified in the 2007 Infill Station Study as having the greatest cost-benefit, to the potential project list.  Hall also amended the list to add the proposed “S” Light Rail line that would connect Murphy Crossing, Atlanta University Center, the current Streetcar, the BeltLine Eastside to Armour Yard, and eventually on to Emory University.

Councilmember C.T. Martin introduced an amendment to add 10 rail cars to the Blue Line.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.