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February 18, 2016

Per Capita Cost of MARTA Expansion Estimated at $51

It is estimated that a half penny increase in sales tax for MARTA rail expansion in Fulton and DeKalb counties would cost the average resident $51 per year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution spoke with a researcher with Georgia State University's Fiscal Research Center who calculated the cost.  Peter Bluestone provided the projection and based it on a similar analysis of spending trends in the Atlanta region during the 2012 TSPLOST debate.

In 2012, GSU analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers of overall consumer spending and calculated the impact of a 1% increase in sales tax.  Items not subject to sales tax, such as housing and services were removed from the calculation.

The GSU cost estimate stands in contrast to figures from transit expansion opponents that have estimated the cost at $400 per year.  Bluestone says those estimates are inaccurate since they simply divide the cost of the project by the population.  Such a calculation ignores the significant amount of sales tax revenue that is captured by people who make purchases in Fulton and Dekalb but do not reside in the county, such as travelers and Georgians who live in other parts of the metro region.

The AJC's article can be found here

A link to GSU's economic analysis can be found here