The City of Atlanta is in a tough spot. From a transit system that needs expanding to public works and infrastructure that needs rebuilding to sustaining the arts and quality of life and economic development initiatives to funding schools, our needs are outpacing our ability to pay for them. Infrastructure has an impact on so many things including Atlanta real estate, companies relocating and so much more.

Atlanta is not alone in this struggle. During the Urban Land Institute’s Atlanta chapter’s Infrastructure Summit held earlier this summer, Maureen McAvey, ULI’s national executive vice president of policy and practice, pointed out that China is currently “spending $1 trillion in the next five years on its infrastructure…It will have 10,000 miles of high speed rail by 2020. In the United States in 2020, we will have zero.”

McAvey said estimates from the America Society of Civil Engineers for suggested infrastructure investments in the U.S. in the next five years reach $2.2 trillion; but taxpayers just aren’t too crazy about paying that kind of money. For example, the nation’s gasoline tax has been at the same rate for almost 20 years and Americans aren’t interested in increasing the tax despite the critical need to improve infrastructure.

In Atlanta alone, it is estimated that $750 million is needed to fund our increasing infrastructure demands.

There’s some optimistic news on the horizon: Atlanta’s penny tax is planned to raise about $8 billion over 10 years and would fund some, but obviously not all, of the needs the city faces. That money would fund transportation projects, and eventually, the city’s water/sewer system and arts, quality of life and economic development programs.

The problem is that the penny tax can’t pay for everything, and Atlantans are not eager to pay any additional taxes. While the need to invest in our communities is great, overall, residents aren’t willing to open their pocketbooks, so to speak, to pay for that investment. Read more about infrastructure, some of the project planned and how a new tax will help with the problem in our article Atlanta’s Regional Mobility Plan One Step Closer to Completion.

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