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 housing 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.