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Report: Crucial TSPLOST funds might be falling short of expectations

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Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook and the Buckhead CID are scrambling to learn more

A photo of the Beltline trail
$66 million in TSPLOST cash was earmarked for the Beltline project, allowing officials to purchase the remaining right of way to complete the 22-mile loop.
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

Roughly two years ago, Atlanta voters elected to tax themselves four-tenths of a penny—or 4 cents on a $10 purchase—in hopes that, over five years, the program would round up some $300 million for transportation enhancements.

Now, however, Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook and members of the Buckhead Community Improvement District are calling attention to the possibility that the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSLPOST) isn’t quite panning out as expected, according to Reporter Newspapers.

Shook, who sits on the CID’s board, helped pass city council legislation in March that called for an independent review of the TSPLOST’s progress by the city auditor’s office.

Tom Weyandt, interim manager for the Renew Atlanta Bond Program and the TSPOLST funds, called for another internal review, meaning the auditor’s office is investigating possible shortfalls twice-over.

But if the TSPLOST fails to bring in the cash it was supposed to, the city council will need to determine which transportation projects will be knocked from the list.

In Buckhead, the CID board is worried about PATH400, the multi-use trail project being constructed along Ga. Highway 400. Some $5 million in TSPLOST funds are earmarked to help build the path, which would need to seek out a new funding source if it’s bumped off the current list.

Elsewhere in Atlanta, projects such as the Beltline, “complete streets” initiatives, and sidewalk improvements rely on big chunks of TSPLOST funding, and the tax program is also used to leverage federal cash.

Although Shook, according to the newspaper, is frustrated that the audit process has taken so long, he said he expects full reports to be ready later this month.

It’s worth noting that the More MARTA tax program, approved by voters at the same time as the TSPLOST, is not facing similar concerns at the moment.