In the current environment, all sales tax revenue generated for MARTA is allotted along a 50-50 split, half going to operating expenses and half going to capital improvements.
Fulton and DeKalb counties, who have a 1% sales tax devoted to MARTA, primarily generate this sales tax revenue and by law must be budgeted for evenly. However, currently MARTA is operating under a 3year waiver of this mandate that will expire on June 2, 2013. The recent passage of the fiscal 2013 operating budget of $434 million and a capital improvement budget of $230 million can be directly attributed to this waiver. In addition to the waiver expiring in 1 years time, a lack of information about the future of the 50-50 split mandate and the July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum, MARTA is necessarily facing a multitude of unknowns and obstacles in planning for the future.
With regard to the 50-50 split mandate, agency board member Noni Ellison-Southhall asserted, “We want permanent removal of the 50-50. It will not solve all of our problems, but it wouldn’t add to those we already have on the table.” Essentially holding that an additional waiver would not necessarily increase revenue but allow the agency to exercise increased flexibility. Along with the 50-50 split issue, MARTA must also address the July 31 RTR. Agency Deputy General Manager Dwight Ferrell, confident in the Transportation Investment Act encouraged, “The TIA would fund what’s already there, and with the elimination of 50-50, free up those dollars.”
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