For MARTA, facts can be stubborn things. For Fulton County taxpayers, facts about MARTA provide another reason to demand significant reform now. Despite receiving operational funding from Fulton, DeKalb and Atlanta taxpayers, MARTA continues to operate on a $33 million operational budget deficit. A new audit reveals that part of MARTA’s problem is based on its excessive personnel
- MARTA spends in excess of $50 million above the
national average for its public employees;
- Employee absenteeism cost $11 million per year; and
- Workers compensation claims cost MARTA $5.5M above
the national average.
These numbers show not just that MARTA is paying its employees more than it can afford, but that it is an outlier among other public transit entities across the nation.
The audit also concluded that privatizing service delivery – as we have done in Sandy Springs – could “erase” the operational deficit, and it could save between $60 million and $142 million over the next five years. The savings brought by privatization are, in large part, achieved by removing the burden of future pension obligations from taxpayers. The audit demonstrates that MARTA joins places like California, Illinois, and Fulton County, where the unfunded liabilities created by public pensions have passed beyond fiscal irresponsibility and now threaten the viability of government operations. Mayor Reed recognized this, and he successfully began reforming Atlanta’s pensions.
We’ve seen the success of such efforts in the new cities in North Fulton. Beyond the fiscal benefit, privatization resulted in vastly superior customer service and accountability over what we received as residents of unincorporated Fulton County.
Fulton County taxpayers should demand our legislators, County Commissioners and others exert proper influence over MARTA by forcing it to enter the 21st century and privatize certain operations. State Representative Mike Jacobs has been a leader on MARTA reform, and he will doubtlessly continue to represent us well next session, which brings me to the larger point. Fulton County taxpayers stand a much better chance of reforming MARTA if we properly reform Fulton County. We’ll have that opportunity after November’s elections, and if you would like to help in the effort to protect Fulton County taxpayers, join us at Reform