Commentary: MARTA contract is a bad deal for metro Atlanta

Ed Williams. Ed.D. Chair
Concerned Citizens For Effective Government

Tell MARTA that it must renegotiate the service contract and that a new contract should be presented.

Bad Deal: Any way you look at it. For all the diversity and education that we have
on the MARTA board, we seem to be in a worse situation than if neither existed.
Fifty years after the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, MARTA wants to deny citizens
their right to vote in a referendum to extend the sales tax as the law requires.
DeKalb and Fulton, and the City of Atlanta have been members for almost 50
years. What do we get for it? MARTA offers us more debt, no more transparency,
no referendum, no new project list, no new train stations, and less control of our
sales tax or investments.

Anybody who supports or extends the current MARTA contract and its
amendments should be removed from office. What is so frustrating is that MARTA
agreed in the Gwinnett 2019 contract even though the citizens voted it down to
give them better transparency and a larger share of control of their one percent to
remain in Gwinnett county, a separate contract from the RTCAA, new train
stations, a 30-year contract limit. Gwinnett is not even a member of the MARTA
board, unbelievable.

Incredible and Sad 55 years after Civil and Votings Rights Act.
There has not been a train station built since 2000 so, why would anyone agree to a
bad deal? There is no reason to rush and sign any amendments. The counties of
DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton and the City of Atlanta are in the best position to
renegotiate the terms of the contract that we have ever been in.

 

Concerned Citizens for Effective Government

There has not been a train station built since 2000 so, why would anyone
agree to a bad deal? There is no reason to rush and sign any amendments. The
counties of DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton and the City of Atlanta are in the best position
to renegotiate the terms of the contract that we have ever been in.
Why is it that MARTA has 3 state appointed board members on the board
and it is the only transit system in the country that does not receive any state
funding after 50 years of existence? Why does the new ATL Link HB930 2018
law have a 30-year limitation on the time period for the other counties’ contracts
and require voter approval, but DeKalb, Fulton, and Clayton are not being offered
a similar deal, and are stuck with a hundred year contract into 2057. It does not
make any rational sense.
Most people do not know that the Gwinnett contract that was voted down by
the voters of Gwinnett in March 2019 was a separate contract arrangement and was
not going to be party to the 1971 RTCAA contract. So, why does MARTA want
DeKalb and Fulton, and Clayton to stay with a bad deal?
The current 1971 RTCAA contract is suppose to end in August 2021. This
is the best opportunity for all the parties to revise and renegotiate the terms of the
contract without being in breach of the original terms of the 1971 contract. This
time the parties should make sure that the MARTA contract is county centered and
focused on the needs of the counties and its residents, not just MARTA.
We do not believe MARTA should continue to receive the one percent sales
tax collected from DeKalb, and Fulton County without a voter referendum to
extend the 1971 RTCAA beyond August 31, 2021. In addition, we are absolutely
opposed to any increase to the local MARTA sales tax beyond one percent.

●We want the new contract to be taxpayer centered
●We do not believe MARTA should continue to receive the one percent
sales tax collected from DeKalb, and Fulton County without a voter referendum to

Concerned Citizens for Effective Government

extend the 1971 RTCAA beyond August 31, 2021. We are absolutely opposed to
any increase to the local MARTA sales tax beyond one percent.
●MARTA should be more transparent and accountable in regards to how our
sales tax dollars are being spent.
●It should be the goal of MARTA to plan for a new referendum for the next
presidential general election, November 2020 and to work with the community
groups in the local jurisdictions to establish a new and updated project list with a
transit contract that has better terms similar to what was proposed for Gwinnett
County in 2018. We want the new contract to be taxpayer centered where the
residents have a say on approving substantial changes and what will be added to
the project list and engineering report. The new contract should not be extended,
amended or the sales tax increased or extended without voter consent.
●Residents should have a say on approving substantial changes and what
will be added to the project list and engineering report.
●A new contract should not be extended, amended or the sales tax increased
or extended without voter consent in the future.
●The terms of the contract covenant provisions should not be amendable
without voter consent.
●The current contract requires that the sales tax funding be the same for
each of the counties participating in the contract. It is not clear how the City of
Atlanta was able to add half a cent to it resident’s sales tax. The current 1971
RTCAA contract was voted on county-wide and the City of Atlanta did not have a
separate vote in 1971. It was the residents of Fulton and DeKalb counties who
approved the contract and levied the sales tax. The parties to contract are the
counties.
●The Street Car contract that was signed by MARTA and City of Atlanta
was a separate contract arrangement from the RTCAA and is not an amendment to
the RTCAA.
●MARTA should be required to provide an expenditure report of how each
county tax revenues are being allocated and spent each year.

Concerned Citizens for Effective Government
●MARTA should not be allowed to mix the methods of funding in one
contract. Currently the RTCAA only permits retail sales tax as the method of
funding.
●MARTA should be required to come back before the voters every ten
years, no more 30 years to renew its contracts. This would make MARTA more
accountable when it knows that it has to come before the voters and not just the
commissions for approval.
●MARTA owns all the property purchased over the last 50 years and that
the counties are paying for services and do not own any of the property of
MARTA. The counties and City of Atlanta, federal government built MARTA.
We do not own anything. Who is responsible for all the bond debt that MARTA
has? MARTA is rolling over its debt far into the future beyond anything that
counties are permitted to do. The state knows it and that is one of the reasons it
does not want to get involved.

Ed Williams. Ed.D. Chair
Concerned Citizens For Effective Government
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ccegov/

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