Atlanta Fire Union proposes public safety surcharge on ticketed events

May 7, 2024

Union suggests new funding method for essential equipment

As reported by Atlanta News First, the Atlanta Fire Union is exploring innovative methods to fund necessary equipment by proposing a ‘public safety surcharge’ on ticketed events in Atlanta.

During a budget hearing, Atlanta Fire Union President Nathan Bailey presented the proposal, highlighting its potential to support public safety and relieve financial burdens from city taxpayers.

Bailey said: “If we can help get some support, we can help pay for all those apparatuses and can use it toward public safety debt.”

He referenced the recent Taylor Swift concert at Mercedes Benz Stadium, explaining that a three percent ticket surcharge over the event’s three days could substantially aid in acquiring vital firefighting equipment.

“We could get two ladder trucks, or we could get four engines just off 3 days of revenue.

“Again, if the administration supports these ideas, wonderful, [and] if they don’t, we’re just throwing out ideas,” Bailey elaborated.

Legislation efforts and challenges

Councilmember Dustin Hillis has been leading the push for this initiative, which has been stuck in the state legislature for the past three years.

The proposed surcharge would affect venues throughout Georgia, requiring events with a significant number of attendees to implement this fee.

“Any ticketed event that is over — I don’t know what the magic number is — 5,000 or 2,000 people have to charge this fee and submit this fee to the state, who would distribute it how it’s supposed to,” Hillis explained.

The aim is to bolster funding for public safety departments statewide without increasing property taxes for Atlanta residents.

Hillis remains optimistic about gaining momentum in the upcoming legislative session.

“It’s just a very, very expensive thing to keep up and we don’t want the burden to be on our property taxpayers in the city of Atlanta,” he said.

FSJA Comment

The proposal by the Atlanta Fire Union to introduce a public safety surcharge on ticketed events represents a strategic approach to funding essential public safety needs without further taxing Atlanta’s property owners.

This initiative could provide a sustainable funding stream for necessary equipment and services critical to maintaining safety and efficiency in emergency responses.

The ongoing discussions and legislative efforts highlight the complexities and challenges of funding public safety in urban settings.

How this proposal will evolve in the legislative process could serve as a benchmark for similar initiatives in other states.

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