May 2, 2022 - News

Exclusive: City Council aims to rebuild trust in Atlanta's TSPLOST program

Illustration of a bike with quarters for wheels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

City Hall wants to assure voters that the $750 million list of bike lanes, sidewalks and other public projects — which Atlanta voters will decide this month — will get built on time.

Driving the news: Monday afternoon, council member Matt Westmoreland introduced legislation to create safeguards, committees and reviews to help restore trust in the TSPLOST and infrastructure bond measures.

Catch up quick: Some Atlantans, particularly cycling, pedestrian and transit advocates, say they don’t trust the city to complete the projects on time and on budget, or to stick to the project list city officials pitched to voters.

Yes, but: Other advocates say they don’t want to pass up an opportunity to generate additional funding — but that they’d feel a lot better voting yes if the city tightened up its planning, procurement and construction practices.

  • That’s where the legislation — co-sponsored by more than 10 of Westmoreland's colleagues — comes in.

Details: Under the proposal, the project list attached to the so-called "Moving Atlanta Forward" initiative would be binding. What voters were sold on the project lists is what voters would get, and the spending of leftover cash would require City Council oversight.

  • Council members would also have to create plans for the $3 million they would be allocated to spend on their districts.

An advisory group of residents and advocates with experience in “construction, law, accounting, real estate, engineering, planning, auditing, finance or project management” would make sure city officials don’t stray from budgets and schedules.

  • The city departments with oversight over certain project areas — the parks and rec department, for example — would brief the relevant committees every quarter. The legislation also requests that the city auditor review the infrastructure programs every year.

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