The irony? The Board of Commissioners could easily have funded the 2008 Park Bond Referendum voters overwhelmingly approved AND the new Braves stadium with the .33 available in the Debt Service Fund.
Why doesn't the 2017 Budget include Park Bond 2008 funding? 3 Reasons.
1) The Board officially shifts the earmarked tax money for Park Bond 2008 into the new Braves stadium bond account for 30 years. The Park Bond 2008 could have been quickly paid before shifting the money in just a few short years because the Braves money is actually moving 2 years earlier than planned because of the extra funds in the Debt Service Fund due to the booming economy.
2) At the previous July 26 meeting, the Board of Commissioners lowered the Debt Service Fund rate, which pays for park bonds, by the exact amount needed (.1 millage is equal to an $8 refund for the average homeowner this year). This .1 reduction zeroes out the Debt Service Fund for future Park Bond funding, because the Braves will take the rest of the millage in that fund, .23 of the total .33 millage currently available.
The Board's shifting the Debt Service Fund taxes into the Braves stadium leaves the Debt Service Fund at an unprecedented zero. The Debt Service Fund is like the County's credit card, so no new bonds can be taken out without raising taxes. We continue to ask that the County restore the Debt Service Fund. See history of Cobb County Debt Service Fund rate above and below.
3) To add insult to injury, after delaying the Park Bond 2008 funding for years, Chairman Lee now says only a certain amount of the park bond remains, $24.7 million out of $40 million. The full $40 million voted for by referendum in 2008 should be available via the Debt Service Fund for many reasons.
"Cobb County is basically taking away $15 million from a $40 million voter approved referendum before the 2008 Park Bond game even starts. It's like a baseball game, if a game is postponed due to rain, the next game doesn't start with the home team down 15 runs. Or like when a timeout gets called, again, the home team doesn't come back to find the other team is 15 runs ahead. It's a timeout."
1. The Board restarted the Park Bond property evaluation process in January 2016, and the Parks Department has reported their Committee will announce the park nominations for purchase in October 2016.
2. The Incoming Chairman Mike Boyce centered a good part of his Chairman campaign on funding the 2008 Park Bond, and he has publicly reported he will fund the Park Bond in the Marietta Daily Journal and on WABE radio.
The Park Bond will ensure a great legacy for any Commissioner who funds it, and that is what should happen in our great American democracy for any voter-approved Referendum.
Having nearby parks:
- helps the roads have less traffic
- keeps the water table high with drinkable water
- ensures less flooding due to impervious surfaces
- creates healthier and safer communities
Parks also increase home values, tourism, and the overall quality of life.
Park Bond 2006 was a huge success and purchased Green Meadows Preserve, Hyde Farm, Mabry Park, and Price Park among others, which is why 65% of voters approved Park Bond 2008 and we continue to press for it to be funded.
Some more history: The Cobb Parks Coalition met with each Commissioners in the Fall of 2015 and noted the Board could easily use .1 millage of the .33 millage to pay for Park Bond 2008 exactly as planned in 2008 under Chairman Olens. Chairman Olens completed the property evaluation process for Park Bond 2008 but chose not to buy the properties in 2009.