In 1971 Fulton and DeKalb counties voted to tax themselves a 1 percent sales tax to fund “rapid transit”, and MARTA was formed.
Throughout the following 41 years, literally millions of people have moved into the area, each arriving to find that their purchases carried this tax. Most have never questioned it; instead they simply consider it a cost of living in Fulton or DeKalb counties.
Let’s focus for a moment on the current reality. If your family is middle-to-upper income, which defines the majority of people in the non-downtown parts of the region, you will spend approximately $35,000 per year on retail purchases.
The 1 percent MARTA tax directly costs you $350 per year before you take the first ride.
Even with this massive subsidy, MARTA cannot operate at break even and has fallen over $1 billion behind on its maintenance. Its ridership, never a high percentage of commuters, has fallen to less than 5 percent of the areas it serves. It is doing absolutely nothing to relieve congestion on our highways.
We are now being asked to vote for an additional 1 percent tax to fund even more “rapid transit” construction that will do even less to relieve congestion.
For the average family, that now means you will be paying $700 per year to fund rail transit. Is this a good deal? I think not.
Do we wish to become a high-tax region like New York or San Francisco? Do we wish to deter people from moving here?
The Transportation Investment Act T-SPLOST vote, if successful, will raise our taxes region-wide by almost $7 billion. The project list directs over half of this money into rail transit projects. These projects are not fully funded and there is nothing in the budget for ongoing maintenance. It is a tax trap that will continue for the indefinite future. It also will absorb money that could alternatively be used to fund road projects that could relieve congestion.