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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kasim Reed: Atlanta tax increase should be smaller

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State senator and mayoral candidate Kasim Reed held a hastily called press conference today at the shuttered Fire Station No. 7 in the West End to make two proposals:

  1. The city should reopen No. 7 and keep all existing fire stations open.
  2. The city should raise taxes by 1 mill — and no more — in order to end police and fire department furloughs.

"There's a crisis in Atlanta," he said at the start of the press event. "Public safety is critical to Atlanta's future and we need to do what it takes to end the furloughs."

(Apparently, Andy, Reed doesn't believe the crime problem is simply one of perception.)

Mayor Franklin has proposed, in a budget now on its way to the full Council, that the city raise property taxes by 3 mills — an increase that will allow one-day-a-week furloughs to be ended for all city workers. But Reed advocated for a 1-mill increase, saying that's enough to put police and fireman back on the job.

As for No. 7 and other fire stations where operating hours have been cut back, Reed said closing stations costs taxpayers more in the long run through higher homeowner insurance rates.

Finally, without naming names, he aimed a few barbs at an opponent, Councilwoman Mary Norwood, by pointing out that simply criticizing the mayor for police furloughs while offering no suggestions as to how to come up with the money to pay salaries isn't helping the situation.

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