With all but two of 170 precincts in Atlanta reporting early Wednesday, voters overwhelmingly approved renewing a sales tax that supports the city’s water and sewer system.

Of those voting, 86% approved reauthorizing the 1-cent municipal option sales tax. It be collected over the next four years and support $750 million of water and sewer projects.

Sales tax proceeds also help the city finance a $4 billion capital improvement plan for its aging sewer system mandated by a federal consent decree.

Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management, an enterprise agency, had $3.18 billion of outstanding water and wastewater bonds as of June 30, 2011.

The bonds are rated A by both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service.

Without the sales tax, financial experts estimated that Atlanta would have to raise water and sewer rates by up to 30% over the next four years to meet its financial and environmental obligations.

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