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Friday, January 7, 2011

Saporta: Mayor Reed likely to join transportation tax roundtable

Just before Christmas, word started spreading that a deal was in the works to have Mayor Kasim Reed join the five-member executive committee that will help decide what road and transit projects receive funding from a proposed one-cent sales tax referendum.

The committee's elected leadership — nearly all five members are from the 'burbs — worried transit and intown advocates who thought Fulton and DeKalb counties' revenues would fund road projects and do nothing to help the urban core's transit woes.

Discussions picked back up yesterday in House Speaker David Ralston's office, Maria Saporta reports. At next week's executive committee meeting, one roundtable member will most likely step aside so Reed, who personally lobbied for the transportation funding legislation, can represent urban core interests.

Saporta writes:

Word has it that earlier today, Speaker Ralston had a meeting in his office with the five Roundtable executive committee members, Mayor Reed, Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead, ARC director Chick Krautler and state Rep. Donna Sheldon.

Ralston is said to have spoken about the important role that Reed had played in getting the regional transportation sales tax bill (HB 277) getting through the legislature last year. Ralston also recognized Reed’s willingness to work for the whole state by supporting funding to deepen Savannah port.

Because of Reed’s leadership, Ralston said it was important to have his leadership and presence on the Roundtable’s executive committee.

Reed apparently told folks at the meeting that he was aware that serving on the executive committee would be time consuming, but he would be willing to serve if one of the existing five members would step down. The person who agreed to resign would be able to continue serving as the non-voting chair of the committee.

Saporta says the group agreed that person will most likely be Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson. The meeting apparently ended with handshakes and smiles.

Now if state lawmakers could only fix provisions of the bill that are hostile toward MARTA — or create a regional transit system that includes the transit agency — they might have a sales-tax measure Fulton and DeKalb voters could support.

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