Proposal seeks greater oversight for 2022 infrastructure ballot measures
Legislation introduced during the Council’s May 2nd meeting aims to ensure that the $750 million list of projects that voters in Atlanta will decide on this month are completed with accountability and a commitment to project delivery. Introduced by Post 2 At-Large Council member Matt Westmoreland, the proposed ordinance would install several measures to serve as safeguards and oversight during the process.
“This proposal says that our city clearly has a lot of infrastructure needs right now and that it is vital that we build trust throughout Atlanta in our ability to stick to the project list and tighten up how these projects are delivered to the community,” Westmoreland said.
In 2021, the Council approved two legislative items that called for this year’s referendum to consider three ballot questions that, if passed, would provide the $750 million in funds for transportation, recreation, public safety, and arts projects across the city.
Under Council member Westmoreland’s proposal, the project list as approved through 21-R-3927 and 21-R-3928 would be binding. The list approved by the voters would be the final version, and any leftover funds would have to be allocated through an ordinance adopted by the Council and signed by the mayor.
“We’re going to spend dollars on items that are on the list — safe streets, sidewalks, protected bike lanes, trails, and fire stations. What you vote for on May 24 is what we’re going to deliver,” Westmoreland said.
Additionally, any bond premium generated by the issuance of public improvement bonds would only be allocated through an ordinance approved by the Council, signed by the mayor, and only to support the existing project list or in the categories listed in the project documents.
As part of the proposal’s aim for increased oversight, quarterly progress reports on project delivery will also be required. Each quarter, reports will be provided by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Enterprise Asset Management, and the Department of Procurement. Additionally, each year, the City Auditor’s Office will be asked to conduct a review of the financials and project delivery for this year’s package of infrastructure ballot measures.
If approved by the voters, the bonds issued for improving public safety, parks, and recreational facilities will provide each Council district office with $3 million in discretionary dollars for projects that would not already be covered by the larger citywide investments. As part of the proposal from the May 2nd meeting, the Council must adopt a preliminary, nonbinding plan for all 12 discretionary accounts by Dec. 31, 2022. By Dec. 31, 2024, Council must then adopt a binding plan encumbering the discretionary dollars.
To generate greater community engagement, the proposed ordinance also calls for the creation of a stakeholder oversight committee that would consist of 15 members representing the interests of residents. The committee would include two appointments by the mayor, one from the Council president, four members appointed by Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and Post 1 At-Large, four members appointed by Council Districts 5, 6, 7, 8 and Post 2 At-Large, and four members appointed by Council Districts 9, 10, 11, 12 and Post 3 At-Large. The committee would meet quarterly and provide feedback, advice, and recommendations to the mayor, chief operating officer, and the Council on spending, budgets, and projects.