Five cities were named Thursday, July 14, that will share $24 million in funding from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Bloomberg Philanthropies. The cities will use the funds to design and implement programs to address pressing civic needs. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed confirmed that the city will receive $1.4 million annually for the remainder of his first term in office. Atlanta will use the funds to create and fund a comprehensive 311 system to improve governmental customer service throughout the city and to reduce Atlanta’s street homeless and panhandling problems.
“I am grateful to Mayor Bloomberg’s generosity with advice and time,” Reed said. “This funding will raise the level of performance in Atlanta and focus on what it takes to build a best-in-class 311 center.”
Each of the five cities will implement Bloomberg’s initiative to fund a five- or six- person “Innovation Delivery Team.” The city of New York, for instance, established teams to develop anti-poverty, sustainability and efficiency movements that were adopted into the Bloomberg administration.
Although cities like Baltimore, Charlotte and Miami have robust 311 systems, Atlanta has not been able to build one due to a lack of money or resources. Atlanta’s 911 system is often overburdened with non-emergency calls because residents have no guidance in finding a department or city service.
In office since January 2010, Reed has closed an $18 million budget gap and created a surplus toward $20 million. A former state senator, Reed was instrumental in helping the state of Georgia lay groundwork for a regional transportation plan as well as gain oversight of Atlanta Public Schools amidst its cheating scandal. Reed regularly lobbies the federal government for funding to deepen the Port of Savannah so that the eastern seaboard of the United States may remain competitive with the Panama Canal as it culminates it expansion project that will enable the port to accommodate supersized cargo ships by 2014. Most recently, Reed successfully reconfigured Atlanta’s pension obligation that will save Atlanta taxpayers $270 million over 10 years.
While in New York to accept the Bloomberg Philanthropies award, Reed was asked to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ. Later, he was interviewed on PBS Nightly Business Report: –a. robinson