House Bill 264 would extensively change the way MARTA does business. Under the bill, the transit agency would be required to outsource some operations and change its pension plans. The proposal allows the governor to tap a retired superior court judge to help the transit union and MARTA officials iron out labor agreements. It also would allow mayors in Fulton and DeKalb counties, rather than county commissioners, to appoint MARTA board members. The governor would also be given the power to appoint a board member.
Some of the changes were requested by MARTA, said state Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Dunwoody, the bill's sponsor and chair of the Gold Dome committee that oversees MARTA. Were the bill to pass, MARTA would also get a three-year break from the so-called "50-50" provision that requires the transit agency to spend half the sales tax revenues collected in Fulton and DeKalb counties on operations and maintenance and the other on capital projects.
At a crowded House subcommittee meeting yesterday, transit union members and bus and rail advocates urged lawmakers to slow down and reconsider some parts of the proposal.
State Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta, the lone vote against the measure, asked why MARTA would be forced to privatize a laundry list of functions, including payroll or paratransit service, when the transit agency's new CEO Keith Parker has already said he'll consider making such changes. She also questioned if the Legislature was tying MARTA officials' hands with the provision.
"When I was running a small business and I really wanted to outsource payroll, I couldn't do it and find someone that saves us money," she said. "What if they put it out to bid and they are bad bids?"
Jim Stokes of the Livable Communities Coalition, a smart growth booster group, agreed: "We think the new GM should be given opportunity to decide what and how those services should be privatized. To require it now hamstrings an excellent new GM."
Gardner also asked why the state should be allowed to appoint anyone to MARTA's board when the state contributes nothing to the transit agency's operations - and why there is no oversight committee for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, which enjoys state funding support.
Union members and reps expressed concern that some of the proposals outlined in the law could run afoul of federal law. If so, they warned, MARTA could lose up to $80 million in much-needed federal funding. Jacobs, who thinks the changes are needed to help MARTA become a "21st century transit agency," says he didn't think the bill would cause such a problem.
yeah, TW, why'd you make the space so small?
My girlfriend is a vet, and in school she learned that no-kill shelters can be…
Yes, it was announced a few months ago. But Burns' piece gives some new information,…
Yes it is true that 72 shelters around the country have managed to pull off…
Day late and a dollar short on this story CL, this is not new news…