Councilwoman Carla Smith recalled the city’s troubles prior to the decree and said if the city hadn’t acted on it the federal government would’ve intervened.
“The good thing with this is we’re doing it ourselves,” Smith said.
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“If this tax is not renewed, then the whole burden of finishing the sewer work for the rest of the consent decree will fall to ratepayers,” Smith said. “And we don’t want to raise rates again. This is also a way tourists and people that don’t live in Atlanta can contribute to paying for using the bathroom when they come to town.”
Last year, the city collected $145.2 million from the penny tax. The city is expected to spend an additional $1.4 billion by 2027, when to complete water-related projects that would clean and maintain Atlanta’s storm sewers to avoid flooding.
Since its inception, the penny tax has raised about $2 billion for its updated sewer system, city officials said.
Atlanta was notorious for having high rates and once paid 108% more than New Yorkers in rates, the AJC previously reported.
With the tax, the city has also repaired and replaced 375 miles of old sewer lines and increased sewer capacity, officials said. Sewer spills have also been reduced by 97 percent between 2004 and 2018.
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BY THE NUMBERS
$145 million: How much the sales tax raised last year.
$750 million: How much the sales tax is projected to raise in the next four years, if renewed.
$2 billion: The amount raised since 2004 for Atlanta’s upgraded water/sewer system.
$4 billion: Projected total cost to fix Atlanta’s water/sewer system.