Hous­ing, Rat­ings Top City Agenda

The Bond Buyer - - Front Page - By SHelly SiGo

BRADEN­TON, Fla. — Newly elected At­lanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms said pur­su­ing a $1 bil­lion af­ford­able hous­ing pro­gram and higher credit rat­ings are among her ini­tia­tives.

Bottoms, 47, said in her in­au­gu­ral speech Tues­day that hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity, trans­parency, pub­lic safety, ed­u­ca­tion, and trans­porta­tion are pri­or­i­ties for her ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“I am hon­ored to have the priv­i­lege of serv­ing the peo­ple of At­lanta, and I am thrilled to serve as only the sec­ond woman Mayor of our great city,” Bottoms said. “As the 60th mayor of At­lanta, I will seek a new un­der­stand­ing, one grounded in ci­vil­ity and pro­duc­tive di­a­logue, to build a greater At­lanta.”

The $1 bil­lion af­ford­able hous­ing pro­gram is ex­pected to be a pub­lic-pri­vate ef­fort that is part of a multi-faceted plan. She did not say if it will re­quire bor­row­ing.

Other el­e­ments of the hous­ing pro­gram in­clude form­ing a work­ing group to ac­cel­er­ate tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment projects that in­clude af­ford­able hous­ing along the MARTA tran­sit lines, a pi­lot pro­gram to of­fer le­gal as­sis­tance to res­i­dents fac­ing evic­tion, and a rental hous-

ing ini­tia­tive.

“We came back from the Great Re­ces­sion and worked hard for eight years to put At­lanta’s fi­nances in a strong place,” said Bottoms, who was a city coun­cil mem­ber for nearly eight years be­fore be­com­ing mayor. “We have made many sac­ri­fices, been good stew­ards of your tax dol­lars and, as a re­sult, At­lanta is on its strong­est fi­nan­cial foot­ing in more than 40 years.

“That is why we will pur­sue a triple-A credit rat­ing for At­lanta, the high­est a city can achieve,” she said. “We are close, but we need to fin­ish the job and show the world that At­lanta’s ca­pac­ity to meet its fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments can­not be sur­passed.”

Bottoms said she will work with state law­mak­ers to reau­tho­rize the Mu­nic­i­pal Op­tion Sales Tax, a 1% sales tax that par­tially funds the city’s sewer and wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram, and sta­bi­lizes rates.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with mem­bers of City Coun­cil this year to pro­tect against sky­rock­et­ing wa­ter and sewer bills and to con­tinue the work of over­haul­ing our in­fra­struc­ture,” she said.

Bottoms re­places for­mer Mayor Kasim Reed who couldn’t run again due to term lim­its.

Shortly be­fore leav­ing of­fice, Reed an­nounced a plan to con­sol­i­date the city’s three pen­sion boards, say­ing it would im­prove gov­er­nance and ef­fi­ciency while re­sult­ing in stronger fund per­for­mance and po­ten­tially rat­ing up­grades.

He said past pen­sion re­forms helped At­lanta achieve gen­eral obli­ga­tion bond rat­ings of AA-plus by Fitch Rat­ings and S&P Global Rat­ings, and Aa1 by Moody’s In­vestors Ser­vice.

Bottoms, an at­tor­ney, will ap­point most of the new pen­sion board mem­bers.

We came back from the Great Re­ces­sion and worked hard for eight years to put At­lanta’s fi­nances in a strong place,” At­lanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms said.

In her in­au­gu­ral ad­dress, At­lanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms said she will pro­pose a $1 bil­lion-dol­lar af­ford­able hous­ing plan.

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