Broome unveils revived transportation tax plan

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome this morning formally announced a property tax proposal that would fund road and infrastructure projects. Voters rejected a similar proposal last December.

    But before the new 5-mil tax proposal goes before voters, the Metro Council must vote to place it on the ballot. Several council members say they’re eagerly waiting to see a list of projects in the plan and hope to avoid what happened when former Mayor Kip Holden’s Green Light Plan 2 tax proposal failed by nearly 7,000 votes. That tax would have raised $20 million annually for 30 years.

    “From everyone I’ve talked to, (the Metro Council) believes in giving the public another bite at this apple,” says Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg. “I think it’s going to depend a lot on what (Broome) says this morning as to how many folks she has on board.”

    What projects ultimately go in the list could go a long way toward making council members enthusiastic about the plan, Freiberg adds. The mayor’s team has met with the council and given them a broad strokes outline of a plan that includes ambitious traffic monitoring and remediation projects.

    Broome’s team and other leaders have spent months gauging the public’s appetite for a tax benefitting road projects. A group of industry leaders commissioned a poll asking about the plan and state Sen. Regina Barrow says she has pitched the idea at recent town halls.

    The mayor and council has less than four months to rally the public behind the plan before the election on Nov. 18.

    “For the last Green Light, (Holden) was in his last hoorah and they decided to do it pretty quickly,” says state Rep. Steve Carter, a Republican who tried, unsuccessfully, to increase the state’s gasoline tax at the Legislature earlier this year. “People didn’t know where Green Light tax plan money would go.”

    Carter says he has no problem with efforts to improve infrastructure in the city, even if it comes at a cost—a view echoed by many business leaders and moderate politicians in the Capital Region.

    The tax proposal, which was first reported by Daily Report last week, will be the mayor’s first real policy push after a quiet several months to begin her mayoral tenure. Earlier this year Broome took the first steps in adding to the ballot a tax proposal to fund the Bridge Center for Hope, a mental health diversion center, but later backed off. The proposal died when the the council shelved the plan.

    —Sam Karlin

    View Comments