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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Senate passes Atlanta 'public safety' tax

The state Senate passed legislation today that would allow Atlanta residents to decide if they want to pay extra for more police officers and firefighters.

State Sen. Kasim Reed, a Democrat from Atlanta who's also a front-runner in the mayor's race, sponsored the bill.

Dave Williams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports:

Legislation asking Atlanta voters to tax themselves to pay for additional police and fire protection cleared an important hurdle in the General Assembly Thursday.

The Senate voted 30-23 to hold a referendum in the city in November on a plan to raise property taxes to hire more police officers and firefighters.

Reed said the legislation is modeled after a bill the General Assembly adopted allowing a sales tax referendum in Atlanta to pay for water and sewer improvements, which won approval from 71 percent of city voters. He said the property tax increase would expire after four years unless reauthorized in a subsequent referendum.

The bill now moves to the House. If approved, Reed says the owner of a $250,000 home would pay an additional $6 a month on their property taxes. The senator received some guff from his colleagues, who said Mayor Shirley Franklin and the City Council could resolve the dispute over raising taxes vs. cutting public safety themselves. But Reed says the problem can't wait for a new administration in City Hall.

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