In March, Congress passed and the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018
. This bill builds on the economic power of cities across the country by maintaining or increasing funding for priorities like Community Development Block Grants, TIGER grants and public transit, broadband infrastructure, workforce development and education programs, and water infrastructure.
While the Omnibus funding bill provides a down payment for infrastructure investment, it will not be sufficient to meet the overwhelming needs to maintain and improve our nation’s infrastructure, including in Georgia, where cities’ projected 5 year capital needs exceed $11.2 billion
. Cities lead the way in investing in local infrastructure improvements through property taxes, sales taxes, and municipal bonds. In the past ten years, local residents have approved 94% of SPLOST referenda, and from 2012 to 2016, cities and consolidated governments collected approximately $2.4 billion to pay for voter-approved capital projects. In 2017, seven out of nine T-SPLOST referenda were approved and additional referenda are on the ballot for 2018. TIA regions that approved the TIA in 2014 continue to use those revenues to invest in capital needs, and from 2011 to 2015, municipal debt issuances exceeded $5.5 billion.
The State of Georgia has also made significant investment in infrastructure improvements, through passage of the 2015 Transportation Funding Act which will bring in $1 billion in funds for the state and local governments. The state has also supported local government access to funding tools like TSPLOST and TIA. The state legislature also recently approved the creation of an Atlanta–Region Transit Link (ATL) Authority to operate, plan and provide transit services in the metro Atlanta region. The legislation also authorizes counties to call for a transit sales tax referendum to fund transit services. The sales tax is authorized at a rate of up to 1% in increments of .05 % for up to 30 years.
Despite these significant investments, local and state funds will not be enough to meet cities' needs for transportation, rural broadband, water and sewer, public safety, and other critical needs. For us to succeed in addressing comprehensive infrastructure needs, the federal government must remain a long-term partner.
As Congress continues work on a comprehensive infrastructure funding package, now is the time to talk to our federal leaders about our local capital needs. As GMA’s Federal Policy Council Chair, I urge all officials in all Georgia cities to reach out to your members of Congress and ask them to develop an infrastructure plan that works collaboratively with cities and reflects cities five guiding principles:
- Sustainable Investment. Together, cities and our federal partners must address the existing core infrastructure backlog, reestablish long-term funding and use new technologies that will serve America's cities for the next 100 years.
- Locally-Driven Projects. Local leaders, from cities large and small, are best positioned to identify where infrastructure needs are greatest and should be given a stronger voice in how limited federal dollars are invested.
- Federal-Local Partnership. Cities are already paying their fair share and need a steady federal partner to fund existing national programs and make significant capital investments for the long-term benefit of the economy.
- Expand Revenue Tools. Cities should be given more flexibility to raise revenues and use innovative financing techniques while protecting existing tools, such as tax-exempt bonds, to drive regional investments that tie into the national network.
- Rebuild and Reimagine. Cities are leading the way in building intermodal, sustainable and interconnected infrastructure networks that support a modern economy. Congress must invest in cities' vision to rebuild and reimagine America's infrastructure.
Please join the City of Dublin and other cities across the state in this effort to share stories about infrastructure investment in your community. All examples submitted to GMA will be compiled and shared with Georgia’s Congressional Delegation in time for National Infrastructure Week, May 14-18, 2018. Suggested ways you can contribute to this effort include:
- Write op-eds for your local newspaper to highlight infrastructure needs and investments your city has made to improve infrastructure – include pictures.
- Host ride-alongs and local events with your Congressman to point out infrastructure needs and investments in your community
- Record short videos sending a message to Congress about the need for federal – local partnerships. Include visuals of projects your city needs help with or that you have already completed. Share images that illustrate the vision for your community and how Congress can help.
- Share your stories on social media and with GMA!
By sharing our stories with Congress, we can inform them how cities are innovating, but also where cities need additional resources to improve our infrastructure.
For any questions or to learn how GMA can help, please contact Becky Taylor of the GMA staff at firstname.lastname@example.org