Atlanta voters OK $750M in transportation, infrastructure spending

An Atlanta voter takes her ballot to be tabulated at South Atlanta High School. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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An Atlanta voter takes her ballot to be tabulated at South Atlanta High School. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

The city of Atlanta will have access to a whopping $750 million to spend on roads, sidewalks, parks and other infrastructure improvements as preliminary results showed voters overwhelmingly supported a slate of ballot questions in Tuesday’s primary election.

With nearly all precincts reporting, the three referenda on the city’s latest T-SPLOST and bond package all had widespread support — the T-SPLOST with 69% approval and the two bond referendums at more than 80%, according to unofficial results.

The mammoth $750 million package, which is larger than the city’s annual general fund budget, is believed to be the single largest infrastructure investment in the city’s history, according to city officials.

“These investments will transform our roads, trails and pedestrian infrastructure, construct new public safety facilities that meet the needs of the women and men who serve our communities, and transform our parks, recreation centers and pools,” Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement early Wednesday. “The voters have demonstrated their trust in the city to carry out these projects, and now it is up to us to deliver.”

One of the approved ballot questions will allow the city to continue levying the extra sales tax known as T-SPLOST, which charges an additional 4 cents on a $10 purchase. That tax, the city estimates, will generate $350 million to fund road, sidewalk and bridge repairs.

Explore‘The stakes are high’ for $750M infrastructure package on Atlanta ballots

The other two questions allow the city to borrow a combined $400 million in general obligation bonds to fund infrastructure improvements including:

  • Over $125 million for park and pool improvements
  • Over $50 million to replace four fire stations
  • $17.5 million to replace the Zone 4 police precinct and make other public safety facility fixes
  • $15 million for the city’s 911 call center
  • $8 million for the city’s future Center for Diversion and Services
  • $15 million for arts initiatives

The passage of the ballot questions is a victory for City Hall officials, including the mayor, who have spent the last several weeks campaigning for them to pass, amid questions over whether the city can be trusted to deliver on important projects with so many taxpayer dollars.

A ballot committee called Moving Atlanta Forward, led by local political operatives who are allies of the mayor, raised about $275,000 to push for the measures to pass, records show, receiving strong support from the city’s business community.

The City Council last week took steps to add guardrails to the spending. An ordinance passed by the City Council last week institutes yearly financial audits, requires quarterly progress reports from officials, makes the project list binding and creates a oversight committee.

A full project list for the referenda is available on the city’s website.

In the Fulton County races, incumbent Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, and Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. appear to have easily defeated primary challengers.