Setzler wants the Cobb delegation to go over the 10-year tax’s project list at a Monday meeting, as well as hear from Cobb commissioners and school board members about proposed redistricting lines.
Setzler said the proposed light-rail line connecting Cumberland to MARTA’s Arts Center Station in Atlanta doesn’t do enough to justify its cost.
“The rail line that’s being proposed spans a grand one mile into Cobb County,” Setzler said. “A billion dollar project.”
Take the 250,000 households in Cobb, and that means every Cobb household will pay $4,000 just to construct the line, he said.
“Four thousand dollars just to construct it, and it services Cumberland Mall? I mean, 5 percent of the people in Cobb County might be able to use that as a transit tool, but every household’s going to pay $4,000 just to build it?”
It would be delightful to have a light rail system through the county, Setzler said, but the trouble is that it costs $100 million a mile to build. Moreover, the average light rail line in the U.S. is 77 percent subsidized by taxpayers, he said.
“I mean, the best ones are 70 percent subsidized,” he said. “And if you think about a 77 percent subsidy on top of a $4,000 per household cost for that line, and it services Cumberland Mall? Goes one mile in Cobb County? How does that serve the interests of people across the county?”
Fortunately there is time to change the project list, since it doesn’t have to be finalized until Oct. 13, he said.
Setzler said he wants to get a conversation going so voters will understand what they’re being asked to approve next year.
“I don’t think Cobb County voters have looked this project square in the face, understood it and been heard on it. I can tell you the delegation who helped support the TSPLOST concept to create the project list created a process whereby the region could vote down the project list or accept the project list or change the project list for a reason, so that good projects and only good projects would ever be put on the ballot,” he said.
Next year, voters in Cobb and other metro Atlanta counties will decide whether to pay an additional 1 percent sales tax for 10 years to finance road and transit projects. The tax is estimated to bring in more than $7 billion region wide over the decade. On Monday, the regional roundtable group finalized its list of $6.14 billion worth of projects the regional tax would pay for. Of those, Cobb would get about $1.1 billion worth of projects, with the costliest being the light-rail line at $857 million.
Also on Monday’s agenda, Setzler said he would like to hear from Cobb school board members and county commissioners about redistricting. No reapportionment maps for the school board or commission would be adopted until January, he said.
“This is a chance for the BOC to be heard about their ideas about maps, and any school board members that want to be heard about their ideas about maps,” he said.
On Aug. 10, the Cobb school board moved forward, 5-1, with David Banks opposed and Lynnda Eagle absent, in its adoption of a reapportionment map.
The Board of Commissioners, while eyeing a few proposed maps of its own, has not yet adopted one, spokesman Robert Quigley said.
Setzler said it would be the delegation that ultimately decides the boundaries.
“It is the legislative delegation’s job to draw maps for the county BOC and for the school board,” Setzler said. “The school board and the BOC’s recommendations are just kind of requests and ideas. I think our delegation takes their job of drawing them very seriously. And I, as delegation chair, am going to do nothing to cede, to give away or to fall short of our delegation’s obligation to draw the maps.”
The meeting will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, located at 18 Capitol Square, SW, Atlanta.