Cities want Haddix ousted from transportation group
The city councils of Peachtree City, Tyrone and Fayetteville voted Thursday night to ask for a new representative to be appointed to a regional transportation group
in place of Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix.
With a potential 10-year regional sales tax reaping an estimated $700 million a year, Fayette’s two representatives on the Regional Transportation Roundtable are charged with getting high-priority transportation projects on the list for potential funding.
Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker said Fayette’s ability to negotiate with other members of the 21-person roundtable has been “irreparably damaged” by Haddix’s failed bid to remove Fayette County from the Atlanta regional area.
That, Imker said, could severely damage Fayette’s ability to get crucial projects on the list for potential funding.
“I can’t possibly see how any fruitful negotiations can happen when one person has identified themselves as so negatively opposed to actually even being there,” Imker said.
Haddix insisted that he cannot be removed from the roundtable and said he would not resign. The legislation that created the roundtable doesn’t provide for any member to be removed once appointed.
Imker, however, indicated that by Wednesday a group of Fayette’s mayors will meet to remove Haddix from the position. Haddix was appointed to the roundtable several weeks ago by a 3-2 vote of those mayors with Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele breaking the tie in Haddix’s favor.
It was pointed out that since the legislation requires roundtable representatives to be chosen by Nov. 10, the mayoral group, of which Haddix is a member, could convene again and vote to change their minds by appointing someone else instead of Haddix.
Tyrone and Fayetteville’s votes were unanimous, while Peachtree City’s vote was 3-2 in favor, with Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum voting against.
Haddix asserted that he was having fruitful discussions with several roundtable members. He promised to get cart path funding allowed under the regional tax, and previously has said he would advocate for improvements to the interchange of Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 74 in Fulton County, an intersection that gets clogged during commuting hours which significantly affects commuters in western Fayette County.
The motion to ask the mayor’s group to select a different RTR representative passed 3-2 with Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch, Imker and Councilwoman Kim Learnard voting in favor.
The roundtable consists of 21 members, two from each county: one of which is the chairperson of the county commission and the other is a mayoral representative from that county whom is selected by the majority vote of all mayors in the county. The 21st member of the roundtable, as authorized by the legislation approved last year, is the mayor of Atlanta.
The project list for the 10-year regional transportation sales tax will be compiled by the roundtable. The tax is expected to raise $700 million a year and is pitched as Atlanta’s “best shot” at helping alleviate gridlock and improve traffic for commuters.
Haddix has argued that Fayette County could avoid the tax altogether by leaving the Atlanta region and moving to the more rural Three Rivers regional commission. His argument went nowhere two weeks ago as he was unsuccessful in convincing his own council that it was the right move; doing so requires approval of the Peachtree City Council, the Fayette County Commission, the state legislature and also the Three Rivers Commission itself.
Several residents at Thursday night’s council meeting criticized the bid to remove Haddix from his roundtable seat. A few, specifically former Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown, were highly critical of the possibility that Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele would be the most likely candidate to replace Haddix.
Brown, who was voted in as a Fayette County commissioner earlier this year and will assume office Jan. 1, alleged that Steele is a big supporter of mass transit for Fayette County, which he said is not in the best interest of Peachtree City. Brown also claimed that Steele “has siphoned millions upon millions” of tax dollars away from Peachtree City.
Resident Robert Brown argued that Haddix was the better choice to serve on the roundtable because “it is better to have somebody who will stand up and fight for what is best for Fayette County.”