DeKalb commissioner pushes for more local spending on transit

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry says the county should consider investing more local transit dollars to take advantage of available federal funds (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Originally published in WABE

Last year’s federal infrastructure law will mean hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade public transportation in metro Atlanta.

But the plan also expands opportunities for projects that improve transit equity.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry told WABE’s “All Things Considered” this week he’d like to see a transit referendum placed on the ballot this fall for the county’s voters.

“Even if it’s a quarter-penny,” Terry says, local investment would make DeKalb eligible for more federal dollars.

“The longer we wait, the higher possibility that we miss out on really what we think of as a once-in-a-generation level of funding that can I think really catalyze a lot of economic development and job opportunities,” said Terry. “And with that we can address affordable housing and environmental issues at the same time.”

He says some loan programs available as part of the infrastructure plan require as low as a 20% match from the cities or counties seeking them.

“Right now we don’t have a local match available to meet those demands,” said Terry. “So what I’m really hoping we’ll be doing over the next several months is to consider: what is our local transit funding formula?”

He says increasing public transit in South DeKalb, adding more bus routes, as well as free rides for seniors and disabled individuals, can help improve transit equity in the county.

“We have a lot of metrics that the transit folks are looking for,” said Terry. “They’re looking for underserved populations, they’re looking for equity issues. We know that in South DeKalb, they’ve been paying for MARTA for 40-plus years now, but haven’t received the type of investments that would be commiserate with that sales tax money.”

Terry says long-term projects that could improve mobility in DeKalb include heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and transit that uses managed lanes on 285 and I-20.

“It would become a reality sooner if we get the local funding in place,” he said.

South River Watershed Alliance, DeKalb Commissioner seek order to stop ‘Cop City’ construction

Originally published in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA — A DeKalb County Commissioner has joined with the South River Watershed Alliance and a member of an advisory committee overseeing the construction of a police training center to seek a restraining order to stop construction on the site.

The Atlanta Police Foundation is constructing an 85-acre police/fire training facility located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest, called “Cop City” by activists. The location has historically been the Old Atlanta Prison Farm site.

The project will cost approximately $90 million. The area will feature a burn tower; space for high-speed chases, a helicopter pad, a shooting range, and a mock village.  One-third of the bill will come directly from taxpayers, and the other two-thirds will come through the Atlanta Police Foundation, a collection of private non-profits who financially support APD in various ways. The land will be leased to the Atlanta Police Foundation for $10 per year. 

The debate over constructing the facility has become international news. Police officers shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26, on Jan. 18 near the site, and a state Trooper was wounded during the incident, which has resulted in several protests.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a member of the advisory committee helping to oversee the project, Amy Taylor, is appealing the county’s issuance of a land disturbance permit that would allow construction to move forward.

The South River Watershed Alliance and DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry joined Taylor in filing a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court on Feb. 13 seeking to halt construction activities related to the training center.

Despite Taylor’s appeal, “Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. refused to stop clearing the site,” the complaint says.

“Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. claimed the site ‘is exempt from county zoning requirements altogether’ because it is ‘being developed for a public facility,’” the complaint says.

DeKalb County issued a land disturbance permit on Feb. 2. Taylor filed an appeal with the county’s zoning board of appeals on Feb. 6. To see the appeal to the county’s zoning board of appeals, click here.

“Amy Taylor appealed the planning director’s issuance of the land development permit because sediment discharges caused by clearing, grading, and excavating will violate state law,” the complaint says.

The complaint asks a judge to grant a restraining order to stop land disturbance on the site and to prevent any future disturbances while Taylor’s appeal is pending.

To read the complaint, click here.



DEKALB COUNTY, GA (Monday, February 13, 2023)  -–  On Monday, February 13, at Georgetown University, DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry will join an impressive group of fellow County elected officials from across the country to launch Counties for a Guaranteed Income (CGI). This roundtable and subsequent kick-off for CGI is an expansion of the success of the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), which began in June 2020. 

Currently, MGI has grown to represent more than 29 million and has provided more than $210 million in relief to Americans. CGI aims to expand that, driven by a commitment to advancing a federal guaranteed income – direct, recurring cash payments to the poor and middle class.

“It is a bold idea and will spark conversation about the future of work, the challenges faced by the working poor, and the sad realities of the welfare system in America,” Commissioner Terry said. “I am honored to not only represent DeKalb but also to be the only participant from the entire state of Georgia. It is imperative that we as leaders come together from across state lines to discuss real solutions for all.” 

Like MGI, Counties for Guaranteed Income will consolidate key learning from the pilots taking place in CGI member Counties to address knowledge gaps and allow the organization to layer data with anecdotal evidence through rigorous experimentation and narrative methods.

Participants of the roundtable included MGI Founder Michael Tubbs and CGI Founders: 

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry

Durham Commissioner Nida Allam

President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Susan Ellenberg 

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Lindsey Horvath

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando

Ramsey Commissioner Rena Moran 

President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle 

Founding members include:

Durham Commissioner Nida Allam 

President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Susan Ellenberg

Harris Commissioner Rodney Ellis

Hennepin Board Chair Irene Fernando

Caddo Commissioner Stormy Gage-Watts

Hennepin Commissioner Marion Greene               

Los Angeles Supervisor Lindsey Horvath

Durham Board Chair Brenda Howerton

Santa Fe Commissioner Hank Hughes 

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando

Multnomah Commissioner Susheela Jayapal

Ramsey Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo

Pierce Council Chair Ryan Mello

Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Holly Mitchell

Ramsey Commissioner Rena Moran

Dane County Executive Joseph Parisi

President of the Cook Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle

DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay

Commissioner Ted Terry on Cop City

Atlanta and DeKalb County officials announced plans to move forward with building a $90 million Atlanta Public Safety Training Center at the site of a former Georgia state prison farm. Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, who represents constituents where the facility is expected to be built, is calling for more transparency. He talks with Rose about the path forward.