Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday visited the Atlanta City Council to ask members to become better educated about a referendum slated for 2012 that would allow the region's residents to tax themselves for transportation improvements.
Reed said he was invited to the chamber to talk about House Bill 277, which passed earlier this year to set up the referendum. He argued that its passage would be an economic stimulus for the city, which he said has lost many as 88,000 jobs and is struggling to find work for the middle class.
"It's our own economic stimulus," Reed said.
The mayor said the referendum, if successful, would create $500 million in infrastructure investment over 10 years, according to a financial analysis he has had conducted. He did not provide the analysis at the meeting and when asked by Councilman C.T. Martin when it would be released, he said on Wednesday.
The visit comes days after members of the council decided to plan a town hall meeting to discuss the bill's effect on MARTA. Some members wanted to know more about a provision in the legislation that would not allow MARTA’s current system to receive operations funding from the tax. MARTA was the only one of the state's many taxpayer-funded transit systems singled out for such a restriction.
Reed a strong backer of the referendum, sought the council's support because he said it will be a tough sell.
"The vote for the referendum on HB 277 is going to be a close vote," he said. "So how members of council feel matters."
Martin thanked the mayor for his input, saying, "You make the point that we have to get involved in the political process."
Afterwards he said he was more assured that the mayor and the council were getting on the same page. Martin said he remained somewhat skeptical of the measure from the legislature and the governor's office, especially since Georgia will have a new leader in January.
"We just don't want the mayor to get double-crossed by the state," he said. "The state clearly has control of it now."
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