Thursday, April 26, 2012

Decatur mayor: Tea partiers, South DeKalb won't cheer if transportation tax fails... Charlotte and Dallas will

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Supporters of the regional transportation tax that voters will decide on July 31 touched on the usual points at last night's panel discussion about the road and transit funding measure at Emory University. In short: we're wasting our lives away sitting in traffic and losing jobs to other metro regions that are investing in rail. And by God, if metro Atlantans don't do something about it, we're all gonna drown in sorrow, while weeping.

But it was the way that Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd, one of the evening's panelists, framed the economic argument that really stood out. (His lines generated one of the few rounds of applause during the event.) When asked by moderator Sally Sears how tax supporters should speak with potential voters, the mayor responded:

"The key to it is to let people understand what's at stake here. I heard someone say this last week: Who do you think is gonna be cheering when this doesn't pass on Aug. 1? Is it gonna be the tea party people? Is it gonna be those in South DeKalb? Is it gonna be those who think we're paying a penny and we don't want to pay any more? It's gonna be Charlotte, it's gonna be Dallas, it's gonna be Phoenix. It's gonna be everybody we compete with for jobs on a daily basis. They will know we've stepped back from the plate. They will know we are not willing to take the steps here to move this region forward."

Another interesting moment - one that generated some anger from my Twitter followers: When asked how metro Atlantans would pay to operate the new buses and trains built with tax revenues once the 10-year measure sunsets, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis candidly responded that elected officials don't know. The issue, Ellis said, would have to be decided closer to that time.

Here's video of Floyd's talk - including some glowing words about the Atlanta Beltline - and some other elected officials' thoughts.

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