Category Archives: Ernest Moosa

Councilwoman Stephanie Endres Protect Us From Approving an Unseen $2 Million Lighting Design

In a recent work session, only Stephanie Endres kept the Johns Creek City Council from approving a $2 million lighting plan which no one has seen on Abbotts Bridge Road. Watch as she asks the hard questions on your behalf and keeps us from being forced to approve any plan on short notice.

Video Source: City of Johns Creek

Commentary: Ernest Moosa

Fake Outrage Sweeps Johns Creek

It’s an election year, and nothing works better for politicians than generating fake outrage at non-issues if it keeps residents from talking about real issues.

The Property Tax Model is Broken Beyond Repair

Let’s be honest. The system of collecting taxes for county, city, and school taxes is broken. And the larger the area dependent on funding from property taxes, the more broken it becomes. North Fulton County residents pay tremendously more for the same county services than South Fulton residents.  Why?

Here are three reasons it needs to be scrapped:

  1. There is no correlation between the amount of taxes you pay and the amount of “services” you receive.

A family of six living in a $500,000 home and a family of two living in a $500,000 home, pay the same property taxes if they live in the same community.  Why?  What makes us feel its fair to collect three times as much tax on a per capita basis from one family than another?  What if the family of two lives in a home worth one million?  What makes it right to collect six times as much for the very same levels of services?  Should I mention that the family of six likely creates more demand for services than the family of two as well?

When property values are high, and tax rates are high, this can have the effect of driving out empty nester residents to avoid the high levels of taxes relative to the services they receive for those tax dollars.

2.  Property values rising(and falling) should have no impact on how much tax revenue is needed to run your county, cities, and schools.

We’ve seen property values fall during recessions and rise during better times.  This should have nothing to do with how many dollars are needed to provide services in your community.  Yet we have made the tax digest the first step in the taxation process, followed by each government agency voting on the millage rate to be applied to that tax digest.  Elected officials vote far more often on how much they will tax you than you have a chance to vote on whether or not they should remain in office.

Let’s add to that the huge infrastructure we now have in place at the Tax Assessor’s office to track every piece of property, every structure, and every improvement you make to your home, all in the effort to make sure every $ of real estate(real or imagined) is taxed.

Why on earth should you owe the government more dollars because you decided to finish your basement or add a deck?

The perverseness of this likely discourages residents from making improvements to their properties.

How much time and energy is used by the Tax Assessor’s office to gather all of this information?  How accurate is it?  Is it worth it?  Who is really benefitting?

3.  How many hours of effort will the Public spend appealing these assessments?

If 1/4 of the households in Johns Creek appeal, that could be as high as 7,000 homes.  Spend five hours on this process, and cumulatively we will have spent 35,000 hours fighting our high assessments.

Instead, why don’t we take a moment and consider a different system?  We do not tax each resident within an HOA a variable amount do we?  It’s a flat rate per household.  While not necessarily the same on a per capita basis, it is a fairer system than taxing each household based upon the value of their property.

What would a fixed property tax collected per residence look like?  First, it would treat all of us as equally as possible.

We would not need an army of government employees tracking our properties, needing to know everything about the inside and outside of our homes.

We would never have to appeal property taxes in the future.

Our governments would be accountable to us directly for the rate of taxation we face, and there would be no finger-pointing as to who is to blame.

The current system of taxation has more expensive property owners subsidizing the less expensive property owners.  In a society where wealth redistribution is frowned upon by most of us, it is curious to me why we are so willing to allow tax redistribution with property taxes, where the level of services received are so far removed from what the property owner pays in taxes.

Johns Creek could lead the way to a better model of taxation for its residents.  It’s time we slay the beast that taxation based on property values has become.   Taxation should not be unfair or onerous.

It’s time for a change.  Contact your locally elected officials and tell them you want a different system.  Tell them you want a better, more equitable system.

 

Johns Creek: Second Best Suburb(and Now City) in Georgia(And Here’s Why)

Recently, Johns Creek was named the second best suburb(and Now City) in Georgia to live.  Coming in second to Decatur, I was curious as to what makes up that ranking (and what role might our local government take in that ranking.  Interestingly enough, other communities are omitted from the suburb category, but are some of the best cities in Georgia to live in.  (It seems that given enough rankings, we can all be winners)

The largest contributor to our ranking is the educational level of adults living in Johns Creek, of course.  We know we are well educated, and that category is 15% of the weighting.

Now which factors are because of our local government?

Property taxes show up in the Housing Grade category, with a ten % weighting.  The effect of Johns Creek on this category might be 1-2% points of that category.

Crime and safety is another category.  With a 5% rating, we will give ½ the credit to the police and fire, and ½ credit to the well-educated public, who should know better than to misbehave.  That brings us up to 3 ½ to 4 ½ %.

The last category Johns Creek contributes to is Outdoor. One-third of that 5% is from having access to parks.  Since this is not limited to parks within your city limits, but all parks including National Parks within a large distance, we will score this category as a 1% contribution from the City of Johns Creek.

In total, that would suggest that 4 ½ to 5 ½ % of our overall score our City Government could take credit for.

The majority of the success for Johns Creek belongs to you.  Yes you.

Well educated, high income earners demanding great homes, working to keep the schools great through property and sales taxes, welcoming to people of all diversities, behaving in the eyes of the law, taking care of your health and the health of your families contributed the most to Johns Creek’s selection as the Second Best Suburb in Georgia.

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back.  You deserve it!

Factors Considered

Factor Description Source Weight
Higher Education Rate Percentage of residents who have received a bachelor’s degree or higher. U.S. Census 15.0%
Cost of Living Grade Based on the consumer price index and access to affordable housing. Niche 10.0%
Housing Grade Based on home values, property taxes, housing costs, local schools, and more. Niche 10.0%
Public Schools Grade Based on the average Niche K-12 Overall Grade for every public school serving the area, where each school is weighted by the number of students it serves. Niche 10.0%
Diversity Grade Based on ethnic, generational and economic diversity. Niche 7.5%
Shortest Commute Grade Based on typical commute times and methods. Niche 7.5%
Composite Overall Score Niche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the overall experience of the place. Self-reported by Niche users 5.0%
Crime & Safety Grade Based on violent and property crime rates. Niche 5.0%
Family Grade Based on school quality, safety, and family-friendly living. Niche 5.0%
Health & Fitness Grade Based on community health statistics and access to healthcare. Niche 5.0%
Jobs Grade Based on employment rates, job and economic growth, and cost of living. Niche 5.0%
Nightlife Grade Based on access to bars, restaurants, theaters, and other attractions. Niche 5.0%
Outdoor Activities Grade Based on weather, air quality, and access to parks and other recreational opportunities. Niche 5.0%
Weather Grade Based on number of sunny days, precipitation, and average temperatures in an area. Niche 5.0%

https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/rankings/suburbs/best-suburbs/methodology/

Letter to Editor: Chris Coughlin’s Victory Can Be a Very Positive Change for Johns Creek

Congratulations Chris Coughlin.  While I know that you cannot of your own accord change the direction of the City Council, I do know that you can move the conversation into the directions we need it to proceed. 
 –

While the majority does still lie with the FOUR who endorsed Coughlin’s opponent, the Council conversations during the Work Sessions and City Council meetings are in the eyes of the Public.  I hope that the right questions are asked so that we can get the answers on the record before us.  We will be watching. One of the FOUR, if they are listening to the points of view presented, will hopefully change their perspective and vote accordingly. 

I look forward to the discussions on traffic, our so called Intelligent Traffic Lights, actual traffic data, why we cannot work to improve the performance of underperforming intersections, as well as other opportunities within the world of transportation and commuting in and around Johns Creek.  

I look forward to an honest and frank discussion on business taxes, and the reduction of taxes for ALL Johns Creek businesses, as well as the reduction in regulations that do not add anything but challenges to business operations.  This is a conversation Coughlin started in 2015 and unfortunately, has not gone very far without Coughlin, despite the efforts of Council Member Endres. 

Johns Creek is indeed a great City, and I know Coughlin believes this.  Coughlin’s  approach to problem solving is not a product of Group Think, but a product of Critical Thinking.  I look forward to seeing the results of that Critical Thinking because defining the problems first and then pursuing the best solutions will yield better solutions than what we have been doing in the past: Starting with a solution preferred by a few on the Council and then working backwards to justify it. 

To the Four that endorsed Coughlin’s opponent- Are you listening?  You represent the same electorate that overwhelmingly voted Chris Coughlin to join you on the Council.  Coughlin did  not run a negative campaign.  Coughlin ran on the issues and offered solutions. Coughlin’s policies and principles for good governance were stated and discussed. Solving traffic issues, protecting the residents against higher density developments, reducing business taxes for all businesses, and doing it at the lowest possible cost to residents(even if they could afford to pay more) are the types of Council decisions we seek. 

What are you going to do with that information the voters have just provided to you?  Work against Coughlin’s clearly successful campaign based on ideas and supported by the voters of Johns Creek?  Or join with him and others and help keep Johns Creek the great city it is for the residents of Johns Creek?  I encourage you to each take a step back, and truly listen to the conversations and discussions that we will see occur during the work sessions and the City Council meetings.  Challenge your own beliefs on what is going on in Johns Creek and where we are heading. 

If you can have your beliefs challenged and at the end of the conversation, you still believe that is what best, then so be it.  But if you have your beliefs challenged and discover a better way, then I hope you take that opportunity and change your mind.  By doing so, all of Johns Creek will benefit, including yourselves.  

The choice is yours.  We are watching.

Ernest Moosa: Videotorials

Ernest Moosa compares and contrasts the City Council Candidates: Chris Coughlin & John Flores, from the JCCA debate.

Video Editorial on Traffic

Video Editorial on Business Taxes

 

Video Editorial on Property Taxes: Millage Rate

This Is Why We Are Frustrated With Traffic (In 90 Seconds)

In less than 90 seconds,  anyone should be able to clearly understand why we are frustrated with traffic and why we think that there are improvements that can be made without paving six lanes the entire length of 141.

While I took this video in Peachtree Corners, it was only because I saw it as an example of what ails us in Johns Creek.  We all experience the same thing on a frequent basis in Johns Creek.  It just happened to be convenient for me to film at this location.  Frustrated with the additional 10 minutes it took to get to Earth Faire at 12:30 p.m., I made it a point to stop and record it.

The questions I keep asking is why.  What does it take to resolve these sorts of issues with our traffic lights?


The video was taken Friday, March 10th 2017, just before 1:00 pm.  I am facing north on 141 on the eastern side of the intersection.

Be sure to watch to the very end where you will see as I zoom just how far the backup extends.

 

Update:

Saturday Afternoon gave me the opportunity to record the same issue, this time coming from Johns Creek.  With the sped up video  below, skip to 48 seconds in the video and hear recommendations for resolving this issue WITHOUT any additional paving needed.

This problem could be resolved sooner rather than later.

Johns Creek: Turning Your Home Into A Revenue Source

The City of Johns Creek wants to use permits to turn your home into an additional revenue source.  Without that permit you do not have the City’s “permission” to make repairs.

per·mit1

VERB

  1. give authorization or consent to (someone) to do something:

    “the law permits councils to monitor any factory emitting smoke” · 

    [more]

    synonyms: allow · authorize · give someone permission · sanction · grant · 

    [more]

NOUN

  1. an official document giving someone authorization to do something:
    “he is only in Britain on a work permit”

In a mere decade, residents who voted to become a city for local control of issues that mattered to them( Police, Fire, Traffic) are now seeing the City attempt to take local control of repairs inside their homes.

And that local control is coming with a price, as they demand your dollars and your time be in compliance with this questionable overreach of government authority.

The reasons behind this overreach?  $$$$$ 

Improvements to 141/Medlock Bridge Road that Preserve Johns Creek

The 141 (Medlock Bridge Rd) Corridor is a fundamental feature of Johns Creek. It defines the heart of our city. The City Council is expected to vote at its next meeting on Feb. 27 whether or not to widen this road to three lanes in both directions. The changes that we make to this corridor will have significant impacts not just on travel and convenience, but also on the look and feel and quality of life of our city far into the future. Much more research needs to be done and facts need to be shared before rushing headlong towards any option that we may soon regret.

Through critical thinking and analysis, Johns Creek can improve travel time and convenience while also maintaining the traditional character of our city’s main thoroughfare. We must be clear in our goal. Is the goal to make this route a highway for getting to 285 easier? Or is the goal to optimize the road in such a way that it helps Johns Creek residents without destroying the traditional character of our community?

Before any solution can be judged, the problem that is being solved must be defined first. The problem is not as simple as stating that we have too much traffic on 141. The problem is that we are not moving that traffic as efficiently as possible through the main corridor. A false definition of the problem can lead to a “solution” that does not solve the real problem, and while we may be able to pave our way to a solution, that is an option that might not be right for the residents of Johns Creek.

Drivers along the 141 corridor are more likely than not to get a red light repeatedly along the 141 corridor. In fact, the probability is 55% (or higher if there is traffic congestion) that while traveling south on 141 you will be stopped at State Bridge Road for a red light. This is a large part of the problem while driving 141.

The probability of catching two lights green in a row is 20%
(even without traffic congestion).

The 141 corridor needs to have green lights as a % of the traffic light cycle for both north and southbound traffic greater than 50%, especially at the normal chokepoints for traffic we see daily, and especially during rush hours if we expect to keep the traffic moving.

Additionally, the intersection of 141 and State Bridge has more vehicles arriving at the light each hour than can proceed through the light on green. This creates a backup in the queue of vehicles which can extend a mile or more on given days. Because this queue crosses several intersections, a ripple effect is created and additional problems get created at those locations.

The addition of a third lane southbound through the 141/State Bridge intersection will shorten or elimiate the length of the queue substantially and will reduce the likelihood of congestion related issues at other intersections.

The problems encountered at 141 and Grove Point Road are a result of the length of the backup queue created by issues at State Bridge Road and 141.

The issues we are addressing are the primary reasons for our traffic congestion issues, and while other issues may contribute, it is important to focus on the most important issues.

Our elected officials must protect the city of Johns Creek first and foremost. We need leadership that seeks alternative strategies for transportation that also maintain our residential community. The widening of 141 to six lanes raises legitimate questions about our future. Think about it: Peachtree Industrial is a six lane highway. Will a six-lane highway be the forerunner to a mass transit rail line or to dedicated MARTA bus lanes? Will increased road capacity be the excuse to allow more high-density housing in Johns Creek?

With both the Comprehensive Transportation Plan and a joint study with Peachtree Corners of the 141 corridor due in September, it is premature to move one step towards widening 141. It must be noted that Peachtree Corners does not have any plans to widen their part of 141 nor does GDOT have plans to do so at this time. Therefore, any widening in Johns Creek would not pay off like some might expect. Also, a wider 141 will require additional red lights to help people get out of their subdivisions safely. These additional lights will also erode gains made by increasing road capacity.

Additionally GDOT data that is available to the public does not support the statements that we have an ever growing volume of traffic in this corridor. The annual rate of growth between 2001-2015 on 141 just south of AAC for instance, shows a decrease in traffic volumes of -0.7% between 2001 and 2015.

Not only are significant studies still in process but the future of McGinnis Ferry Road (MGF) is still being debated. Each morning, commuters weigh which route to take to work. Widening 141 will probably increase the number of drivers choosing 141 over GA400, which may worsen the problem. A widening of MGF added to the new multi-million dollar McFarland Interchange may lead many Forsyth and upper Johns Creek commuters to use GA400 and Peachtree Industrial Blvd (PIB). These roads were designed as highways and do not run through a residential area.

There are several other changes that should be investigated to improve our current traffic volume in Johns Creek on 141 that do not involve widening the road:
· Adjust speed limits
· Increase turn lanes at key intersections for easier access to GA400 and PIB
· Intersection and lane improvements in Forsyth and Gwinnett County.
These are all things that can be done to decrease the incentive to use Johns Creek as a cut-through. Already, South Forsyth has taken away much of the incentive to drive into Johns Creek simply by making itself a new destination in its own right full of shops, offices and restaurants.

Changes to speed limits, increasing turn lanes at key intersections for easier access to GA400 and PIB, and intersection and lane improvements in Forsyth are all.

Intersection improvements up and down 141 will better serve the travel needs of Johns Creek residents. These improvements will improve commutes, but also ease the ability to live, shop, and play inside our city. By widening the intersection at 141/State Bridge, we can get big benefits without the unnecessary damage to the neighborhoods just slightly north. Improving the intersection at 141 and State Bridge is long overdue. However, Johns Creek should delay any decision on widening 141 beyond the intersection. Careful consideration should be given to other ideas that can improve travel but not harm our community.

There is relatively little expense to intersection improvements compared to widening the road. We have already seen these ideas implemented on State Bridge Road east of 141.These intersection improvements can give significant travel gains along the corridor. Most if not all of the intersection improvements would be near commercial development and not residential developments. If we widen 141, we can never undo that and the intersection problems will still need to be addressed. If we make these intersection improvements, there is little to no downside and the widening of 141 could always be done in the future if truly warranted and it was desired by the residents.. These intersection improvements can be done without doing irreparable harm to the look and feel and quality of life of Johns Creek.

It seems clear that there are real improvements based on real world observations and data that will greatly benefit Johns Creek drivers. More efficient intersections throughout the corridor as measured by more lights green more of the time for North and Southbound traffic is preferred over the creation of a six lane highway bordered by residential homes. Widening 141 is an unnecessary step that will have a lasting negative impact. It is a step that once taken, will be irreversible and have costs much greater than just the dollars spent on construction.

Source: Preserve Johns Creek

Johns Creek Traffic Volumes: Not As Advertised

The City of Johns Creek has created a myth about our traffic volumes.  Either that or the GDOT Web Server, which stores thousands of data points for traffic across the state and which is used for traffic planning is entirely worthless and wrong.

The City of Johns Creek tells us we have an ever growing body of traffic from Forsyth County.  I have challenged that idea over the last two years only to be summarily dismissed by City Officials.

Once again here is the most updated data from GDOT which clearly shows no major increases on 141 over the last decade EXCEPT for two locations.

The first location, with the largest increase is in Forsyth County, south of 400.

Were the majority of that growth actually traveling through Johns Creek, then the data just south of Laurel Springs Parkway on 141 would also reflect strong growth in volume.  It does  not, and is actually down over the last eight years.

The other location to show an increase is on 141 North of Abbotts Bridge.  Frankly, this should be expected.  This location in Johns Creek has had the biggest increase in high density housing within the city.

And yet, that has not translated into higher volumes at any of the locations where traffic volumes have been measured south of Abbotts Bridge.

Let’s be honest.  One cannot have declining volumes at so many locations and still make the claims that the COJC is making.

And we should not be planning to widen 141 to six lanes in each direction without a better understanding of the data.

If the GDOT data is wrong, it needs to be proven.  If it is not, we need to put the brakes on decisions being made without solid data behind it.

Clearly, higher density housing leads to many more trips where the housing is located. But let’s not make the wrong assumptions, and change the face of Johns Creek permanently pursuing the wrong solutions.

We need to resolve the right problem.  As I have contended for the past two years, that problem is the traffic lights.  Isn’t it time we solved the right problem?

Year Daily Volume Year Daily Volume
141 between HBR and Spalding 2000 54400 2014 50000 Down
141 South of River 2005 49890 2015 47000 Down
141 South of Old Alabama 2007 51750 2015 47800 Down
141 North of Wilson Road 2006 42440 2014 40500 Down
141 North of Abbotts Bridge 2006 36260 2014 42200 Up
141 South of Laurel Springs PKY 2006 34070 2014 32800 Down
141 South of Majors Road 2005 22730 2015 40200 Up

 

Source & More at: http://ejmoosa.com/

Me Versus You: Your Rights End Where Mine Begin

In the City of Johns Creek, there is a very interesting battle taking shape over a proposed noise ordinance which is meant to address sound(and the sound waves that generate vibrations) from a commercial business, which is detrimental to the homeowners nearby.

At first glance, it would seem to be a rather easy situation to address.  There are the usual questions people like to discuss:

Should residents next to a commercial property expect to hear silence?

Does the commercial property owner have a right to do business?

What is an acceptable level of sound one should be expected to tolerate?

The list could actually be somewhat endless.  Why?  Because in this day and age, too many parties want to do as little as legally possible.  They choose not to remedy the harm they have caused to another party, and will try to as little as law mandates.

That is a shame.

Are we in a society where we wait for the government to tell us what is the right thing to do? Apparently so.  This issue has dragged on for two years.  Children go without sleep on school nights.  People cannot enjoy their own homes more than half the evenings in a week.

I can empathize.  I live in the same neighborhood as those affected, although I cannot hear the music or the vibrations from my home.  What I have struggled with for the last ten years pales in comparison, yet is along the same lines.  Lawn care companies have arrived on my street on Mondays and Fridays and just after 7:00 am have started with the relentless leaf blowers and lawn mowers.  Because they do multiple homes, this goes on for hours.  Twice a week.

I am a night person.  The intrusion of sound is more than disturbing for me.  So I can only imagine how terrible it is for my neighbors.

I even heard several of my neighbors speak for the establishment in question.  I have been there myself and enjoyed it. I heard City Council members speak out about what might be a remedy and what it might cost. I heard supporters speak out on the venue about the money invested by the owners.

They seem to be forgetting one thing.  We are talking about rights.  As a Libertarian I am a firm and complete believer in rights.  And in this case, even if it was just one home with one resident being negatively affected, it is one home too many.

Individual rights are the cornerstone of the American system of justice.  And despite how it appears at times, we are not granted “more” rights because we are part of a group.  That may be the way inept politicians have attempted to deal with things, but it was a boneheaded approach and should be reversed.

Because the individual has rights, they must be protected even IF another party suffers material losses.

Why?  That’s simple.  In this case the business had the burden of making sure that they did not violate the rights of anyone as they went into business.  Was it up to the homeowners to make sure the business did their due diligence before opening?  No.  That rests completely with the business.

Sure, it sucks for the business.  But that is their job and not the job of the residents.

We cannot have a society where we look at some residents and say “you must make a sacrifice because there are more of us than you, and we want it”.  Especially when it is a for profit business at the expense of your residents.

Were I to be causing damages to my neighbors, I would not wait for a law to be passed to address it and tell them tough luck.  I would do all within my power to remedy the situation on my own.

The City Council of Johns Creek needs to start with one basic purpose:  protect the rights that come with the property for BOTH parties.

Unfortunately, for the business involved, one does not get the right to generate vibrations which are then sent into the homes of neighbor, which then reduce the rights of the homeowners to enjoy their own property.

If the homeowners had some way to reduce the rights of the business to operate to the full enjoyment of the business, we’d have already been in court and had this situation resolved.

Rights start with the individual.  Another party does not have the “right” to diminish your rights for the benefit of themselves.  To do so would effectively eliminate our way of life.  We’d have mob rule on every issue.

In this instance, the business did not and does not have the right to send sound waves and vibrations trespassing into the neighboring homes.  Yet they have been doing so for two years.

The business can do the right thing before the City Council takes action, or they can wait and be forced to take action.  The choice is theirs.

Ask yourself this question: If your next door neighbor suddenly got a dog that barked from 9:00 p.m to 1:00 a.m., how long would you tolerate it?

Would it matter that the dog won dog shows and was popular with others who did not live next door?

Exactly.

When the battle becomes Me Versus You, no one is entitled to more rights at the expense of the other party.

Equal treatment under the law is easy to enforce, once you remember the law is based on individual rights.

I’ve heard some say that the someone will win here and someone will lose.  That is the wrong conclusion.  If the rights of the homeowners are not upheld, then we will all be losers.

We will learn rather quickly that the rights we know we should have and thought we had, that they are only give to us by government, and not protected by our government.

What’s The Real Cost Of the Old Alabama Road Delay to Drivers, Johns Creek?

Johns Creek residents have been fighting a losing battle with traffic for the past several years. Key road closures and construction projects have taken their toll on drivers and residents who find themselves trapped in their neighborhoods during rush hours, or face 20 minute ride to the grocery or school, which is within a mile or two of their homes.

Last year I did some calculations to determine what our delays cost us. Some local residents asked me to do the same for the Old Alabama-141 project, and so I have. You can read more about the details in the link below, but I explain as we go how the numbers are generated.

http://ejmoosa.com/blog3/2015/06/05/the-high-cost-of-traffic-dollar-and-sense/

The Old Alabama Road project is, has, and will be going on for a long time, by any measure that you can find. With less than a 1/2 mile of widening to be accomplished, the cost of the road construction itself is at least $5 million and maybe higher. The City of Johns Creek went with the GDOT to do the project to save the taxpayers money.

But, like any government agency, they seem to forget about the costs to the taxpayers themselves. Being stuck in traffic for two years or more has a very high price. Most DOT project guides that I have seen give credence to the costs of that impact on residents. Johns Creek may be the exception.

According to the Georgia DOT webserver on traffic volumes, there were about 8619 cars per day traveling on Old Alabama during the three morning and evening hours that make up peak travel periods in Johns Creek in 2013.

Most of us have experienced worse delays than the 10 minutes I use for this example, but we will use that as the additional time each vehicle is taking to make it through the intersection.

That equals 86,190 minutes per day wasted sitting in traffic.

That equals 1,436 hours per day. At a value of $16 per hour(based on what other DOTs use for the cost of traffic delays), that works out to a cost of $22,984.00 per day.

And since there are 250 or so work days a year, that works out to $5,975,840.00 per year.

This suggests to me that the residents and drivers in and around Johns Creek will have nearly $12 million dollars in lost time, wear and tear on their vehicles, and general frustration while the City of Johns Creek will have saved around $5 million by having the Georgia Department of Transportation run this project.

Was it worth it?

http://ejmoosa.com

What’s The Real Cost of that MARTA Ride?

marta_logo MARTA is in the news a lot lately in Fulton County, as they push for more funds to expand heavy rail, especially in North Fulton County. We are told of the benefits of MARTA, and one could argue that there are indeed benefits, especially for those that do not own vehicles.

MARTA is pushing today for a sales tax increase that would increase their sales tax revenues by 50%. By doing so, Fulton County will be increasing the subsidies that are given for each MARTA rider.

But what is the true cost of of this Mass Transit system today, and where do the funds come from? Is it a positive or negative expense when it comes to other modes of transport?

Only 22% of MARTA’s funding comes from fares.

Twenty-two per cent of MARTA’s funding comes from Fare Revenue, 58% from sales tax revenues, and the other 20% from other sources such as State and Federal government. What would it cost if MARTA relied entirely on fares, and not on sales tax dollars,and federal and state dollars?

Using this data, I can make a rough calculation of just what this trip on MARTA would cost.

“MARTA needs an additional $8.86 to cover the cost of one trip.”

Let’s take family of four, who have decided to take a trip to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke. They would need to spend $20 in fares to go to those attractions and return. To help cover the cost of these trips, MARTA today collects an additional $8.86 per trip, or $70.88, for a total of $90.88.

While that may be a great deal for the family on that day, is that really a great deal for our society overall? We must ask ourselves should we spend more than necessary overall just for the sake of spending it?

The distance from North Springs MARTA Station (a possible boarding point for our family) is 14.9 miles by vehicle to the World of Coke, according to Google Maps.

Before gas prices plunged, the estimated cost to drive a large SUV (insurance, taxes , gas, etc) was 75.7 cents per mile.  It’s much cheaper now to fuel up, even at the higher price per mile, it’s still cheaper.

Therefore the distance to and from our destinations would be 30 miles. The cost would be around $22.71 plus parking. Splurge on parking for $15 dollars and the trip costs $37.71. More than $53 less expensive than mass transit.

“Are We Better Off In The End?”

Is our society better off by having a family of four taking mass transit for a total real cost of $90.88, or taking their own vehicle for a cost of $37.71?

The other $53.17 must come from somewhere. Where that somewhere is can be debated. Taken from your pockets every time you spend a dollar, taken from your tax returns at both the federal and state levels, taken from your future earnings as we pay off the ever increasing federal debt, it will be taken.

Here is one of the major shortcomings of Mass Transit and why it fails to compete with personal vehicles: In your own vehicle, the cost per passenger per mile plummets the more passengers you have. With Mass Transit, your costs increase proportionally.

“There are no economies of scale with Mass Transit”

For the family of four the cost per passenger for this trip is $37.71 divided by 4, or $9.42 per passenger. Add another passenger and it would only be $7.52. Add another passenger on Mass Transit and you will spend 20% more on fares.

I’d argue no, our society is NOT better off. We’d be better off if every family was able to keep as much of their earned income as possible and spend it in a manner that they chose.

Imagine for a second that MARTA did not exist. There would be a lot more money in the pockets of everyone in Atlanta.  Money they could spend on dining, retail, health care, entertainment and other choices.

It’s my belief that we need our elected officials to look at the true total costs of any project or service that they promote, and are asking their constituents to fund. It’s also inappropriate to look at a project and say it’s costing us less because we are getting Federal and State dollars to offset the costs. Unless you are exempt from federal and state taxes, you (or your children in the future) will be paying for the entire costs. There is no free ride.

I’ll leave you to think about that choice. Then share with me your thoughts. I’d love to know whether or not you still think MARTA is SMARTA after all?

Cost of owning and operating a vehicle in the USA

MARTA Annual Report

http://ejmoosa.com/

Johns Creek and MARTA: The REAL Reason it is NOT the Right Answer

Recently, the City of Johns Creek passed a resolution effectively saying they would not support an increase in the MARTA sales tax, which is and has been collected in Johns Creek since MARTA was formed.

That decision has led to the usual bellowing of racism. Racism is on the path to becoming the argument of first resort when people, generally on the left, do not get their way. It used to be the argument of last resort, but why wait?

I am sure that there will be people that claim that my views are biased as well. They would be wrong.  I graduated from Georgia State University, and I took the train from Hightower to Georgia State daily. Even then, it took longer by train than by car. Which is generally true for a lot of MARTA versus car travel cases.

For example, Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to the Atlanta Airport would take 42 minutes at 1:33 p.m. on 11/23/2015.  By bus/rail? One hour and 27 minutes(if you get there as soon as the bus arrives).  Click on this link, and it will show you current travel times by both modes.

We are often told “Look at how successful the METRO is in Washington, D.C.”. Of course that system is successful. It was designed and built the proper way a transportation system should be built. MARTA took a different path. Well they basically took two paths: North-South and East-West. That’s their failure. That they have continued to this day without modifying that plan is why MARTA is not and cannot be the answer.

Have a look at the two systems.  Here are the maps for each:

Washington METRO Map

Washington’s METRO has multiple 8 spokes to their transportation system.  Those 8 spokes three separate transportation circular routes that allow passengers to get to where they are going without the need for everyone to transfer at one primary station if they need to change directions while traveling.

This system is a functional system, and provides for additional expansion because they can connect any two outer spokes, creating another circular path, when the demand is there.

marta-map

Atlanta’s MARTA system is shown here:

As you can see, there is no connectivity between the two main spokes, except at Five Points.  There are no circular paths for patrons to take to get to their destination.

This also creates another major problem.  If MARTA has a failure between Lindbergh and the Airport, or between Holmes and Indian Creek, it disrupts all traffic and buses muse be used.  The Washington METRO allows riders to pick another route if one of the stations happens to be on one of their circular sections of track.

So if you want to know why MARTA is not the solution for Johns Creek, look no further than the maps above.  One day MARTA might be a good solution for some people.  But until MARTA actually expands to allow connectivity between the two main lines at a location other than Five Points, the appeal is limited.

Had MARTA really wanted to get the ball rolling, there would be a line connecting the Dunwoody and Doraville stations.  They would have also built a line North along I 75 as far as they could in Fulton, and then connected that station to Dunwoody as well.

Instead, what we are told is that by 2030 they were to have a station at Windward Parkway, extending the North Line.  As far as I know, that is they only direction they are expanding.  That plan was announced in 2000 or so.  This leave me wondering how that their vision over a thirty year time frame could be so limited.

Johns Creek could have MARTA buses.  But who will ride them?  We already have both GRTA buses and a Gwinnett County bus that is operated by GRTA.  They run mostly empty all day long.

The desire to have MARTA needs to be for more than a transport system to a ball game or to the airport.  It needs to be something that someone can use in place of owning a vehicle.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Unless you are willing to park or sell your vehicle, and use mass transit, for more than 50% of your trips, mass transit is not the answer that makes sense.

Where we live, time has a premium value.  We drive our own vehicles because despite the traffic problems we have, it’s still faster than mass transit can be as it is configured today.  If you understand that, then you will understand why Johns Creek does not think MARTA is the answer for what ails us.  And it has nothing to do with race.

Read more of Mr Moosa’s thoughts here.


Editor’s Notes:

MARTA’s continued stance of using heavy rail is unacceptable. Heavy rail is for transporting heavy goods, such as box cars, oil drums, cargo, etc. Heavy rail requires infrastructure to support it, from bridges, and overpasses. It is more expensive to build, maintain and costlier to use as well as takes much more time to implement.

Light rail, is cheaper, quick and more efficient for passenger transportation. The infrastructure required is lighter, therefore less costly to build the bridges and overpasses.

Johns Creek or even North Fulton has no use for heavy rail. We have no cargo containers or oil tanks to transport here.

The train has left the station, regarding MARTA in Johns Creek. It would take decades to happen, and by then would be outdated.

It is time we look toward new technologies and seek innovative concepts and put our City ahead of the curve. See below, these shuttle pods are in the horizon. Door to door: comfortable, efficient, clean and safe.


driverlesscar

Rain Charts for Fiscal Year 2015

2015 Water Summary II

Introducing the Residential Authority of Fulton County

I’d like to propose (for illustration only) a new agency for Fulton County.  We will call it the Residential Authority of Fulton County(RAFC).  This authority will do for residents what the Development Authority of Fulton County(DAFC) does for businesses.

Fulton County needs to attract some of the best and brightest residents out there who are looking for new homes.  There are many attractive locations, and it would be in Fulton County’s own best interest to attract them here.

We can attract them by helping them get the financing they need for their homes.  We will help them to float bonds for their residences, and offer tax incentives for those that are willing to purchase those bonds.

thankyouCurrent residents that are already in their homes?

We will offer you a hearty thank you. Thank you for not questioning our actions.

Thank you for continuing to pay the full taxes on your property.

Thank you Thank you Thank you. (If you are one of our valued residents come in and chat-we may be able to work a favorable deal for you as well).

We will also offer through the RAFC property tax breaks for you that will lower your cost of residency during your first ten years.  We will lower your property taxes by 50%, and then slowly increase your taxes over the years.  And if needed to keep you happy, we will work with you to help lower those taxes in other ways as well.  We are here for you.

Current residents that are already in their homes, and paying the full tax rates without any abatements-once again we offer you a hearty thank you!

Once a month, the RAFC will get together and look over the list of those who have applied for an inducement to have their residence within Fulton County.  We will be evaluating you based on what you say will be the benefits of having you here.

Are you a high income earner and will be spending dollars?  There’s a plus.

Going to be hiring a maid and lawn care and nannies?  Babies on the way? Greater purchases of goods and job creation is always a plus.

Building a new home versus a resale?  Even better. Raw materials purchased.  Building permits and inspections. More jobs.

So we invite you to apply.  Make your case.  Help make Fulton County a better place for all.  Your RAFC will make the right choices picking the right new residents for Fulton County.

Crying-baby-cartoon_0For those current residents who will be living besides our beneficiaries of the RAFC, do not be concerned, upset, or feel cheated.  These new residents will add value.  They are bringing in new construction projects, jobs, and other intangibles.

We assure you this will not lead to overbuilding or speculation in our markets.  Do not look at these new residents as getting a tax break at your expense.  Look at it as incremental revenue that we will spend on behalf of everyone.

Let’s create the RAFC and do for residents what we are doing so well for our business community!

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Now that you have a sense of how the Residential Authority of Fulton County might work, you can see why I would oppose the Development Authority of Fulton County, and the prospect of a Development Authority of Johns Creek.

It picks winners actively and losers passively.  Current businesses pay more taxes than those that make deals with the DAFC.

It encourages speculation and overbuilding.

My list is long as to why I think the DAFC is a bad idea.  Despite the fact that “everyone has or wants a development authority”, it artificially stimulates demand for commercial space.  It also comes with a price: Property Tax Abatements.

Treat everyone and every business equally.  If the idea is accepted that lower taxes stimulate(as the DAFC can affirm by why it does what it does), then lower taxes across the board for EVERYONE.

Lower business taxes for everyone.  It’s the only equitable way to do business.

If you create a business environment that benefits ALL participants then that is the single best thing you can do.

Do not penalize current businesses by giving newcomers better deals and tax breaks.

It’s just that simple.

If you create that sort of environment for your businesses, you will not have to “induce” them to be in your community.  Instead, they will beat a path to your community, and everyone will benefit.

Sincerely,

Ernest Moosa