If you haven’t done so yet, you only have a couple of more hours to take advantage of early voting in Fulton County.
Advance voting for next Tuesday’s presidential primary ends at 5 p.m. and see here for voting locations if you want to squeeze it in.
Along with the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries, Midtown and city of Atlanta voters will decide on extending the 1-cent Municipal Option Sales Tax (MOST) for four years. The tax funds on-going federally-mandated upgrades and maintenance of the city’s water and sewer system, and city officials have said water and sewer rates will rise if the tax is not extended.
This week, the city’s Department of Watershed Management’s Financial Model projected no rate increases for city water and sewer customers over the next four years if the tax is extended by voters.
The MOST applies to most goods purchased in the city of Atlanta. These funds allow visitors and business people who use the city’s water and sewer infrastructure but do not pay city water/sewer bills, to help pay for upgrading and maintenance of the infrastructure – offsetting higher bills for residents.
City officials have stressed that this is not a new tax; it is the reauthorization of an existing tax.
The MOST was initially approved on July 20, 2004, and reauthorized by voters in 2008 by a 3-1 margin. Accoding to a city release, from 2004 through 2010, it provided more than $700 million to help ensure Atlantans a future of clean, safe drinking water and environmentally sound wastewater treatment.
“It is imperative that voters are educated about the benefits of the MOST and what we have been able to accomplish since it was approved in 2004,” said City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong, chair of the City Utilities Committee, in a press release. “According to a recent study by the American Water Works Association cities across the country are funding upgrades to their aging water and sewer systems.”
Archibong said the study found that repairing and expanding the U.S. drinking water system between 2011 and 2035 will cost at least $1 trillion, an amount that will largely be paid for by higher household water bills.
“We are fortunate that here in the city of Atlanta, our residents do not solely bare the cost of repairing our water and system. Through the MOST, visitors have offset some of the cost,” Archibong said.
Since the authorization of the MOST, the city has been able to repair and replace miles of old, decrepit sewer lines in compliance with two federal consent decrees. The Clean Water Atlanta Program also increased sewer capacity throughout the city, supporting billions of dollars in development that would otherwise not have been possible.
According to a city release, the work also resulted in significant decreases in both the number and volume of sewer spills (62 percent and 97 percent decreases, respectively between 2004- 2010).