In the Aug. 6 Around Town, Commissioner Bob Ott calls for a new $40 million green space referendum on the November ballot.
In 2008, 67 percent of voters approved a $40 million bond to “ acquire land located in Cobb County for use as public parks in perpetuity.” Since 2008, not one acre of land has been purchased, not one dollar has been funded.
Referendums are legally binding. Why do the commissioners think they are above the law?
Commissioner Ott’s proposal to ignore Park Bond 2008 and start over is another stalling tactic. Who benefits? Well, just follow the money. Developers benefit from paving and flattening precious land that should have been preserved as green space for Cobb residents.
In 2009, the Citizens Advisory Board submitted a list of 29 potential park properties to the commissioners and they ignored the list. Now half the properties are gone forever, making a profit for developers.
Using the smoke screen of “not raising taxes” is a moot point. The money was available in the Debt Service Fund until two weeks ago when Chairman Lee cut the park bond money and allocated the remainder to the SunTrust Park/ Braves Stadium complex.
Commissioner Ott states, “Let’s just do it again. Let the people decide. My guess is they’re going to say yes.”
We don’t need to do it again. The voters said yes in 2008. Why are the commissioners stalling?
Fund $40M before we run out of green space
Bob Ott’s idea calling for a new Parks Bond referendum is moot because this issue has already been voted on, not once, but twice by the voters of Cobb County.
First, in 2008, with 67 percent voter approval in favor of spending $40 million to buy land for parks, and second, in 2016, by voting to replace Tim Lee with Mike Boyce by an overwhelming majority.
The voters favored reinstating the democratic process that was usurped by Mr. Lee when he chose not to let Cobb County residents vote whether they wanted to pay for the Braves stadium or not.
At this point, delaying funds for months will not only harm the greenspace initiative, but will severely destroy many possibilities for land purchases. Eight years of watching proposed park land being bulldozed into oblivion due to Mr. Lee’s reallocation of park land money into the Braves coffers has been heartbreaking to watch. To delay any further would usurp the democratic process once again — that is to deny a referendum voted on and passed by the residents of Cobb, and to watch inaction once again by the Commissioners.
We already voted and have waited patiently for our commissioners to do the right thing. Please heed this warning. Don’t force voters to express their outrage again at the voting booth. Fund the $40 million as soon as possible before there is no greenspace left in Cobb.
Cobb voters duped in a shell game
This sounds like a classic shell game to me. “Let’s take the money here, promise it here, put it here and call it something else.” Then delay, look away, concentrate on something big, like the Braves stadium. With the focus off, we’ll say, “Oh well, darn, let’s just start over.” And nothing is happening except that developers are gobbling more and more of our precious greenspace and the citizens of Cobb are duped yet again. What is going on in our county? Looking forward to changes in January.
Been there, done that
I am commenting on the August 6, 2016, “Around Town: Ott Calls for New Green Space Referendum”.
Commissioner Bob Ott is calling for a new $40 million green space referendum on the 2016 November ballot.
Cobb County voters already approved $40 million via the 2008 ballot to buy park land that still awaits funding by the Board of Commissioners.
It’s the baseball stadium that was never approved by voters and should be listed on the ballot in November 2016!
Heart of referendum debate is about democracy
As Americans know, a referendum is the purest form of democracy, and 67 percent of Cobb citizens voted for the 2008 Park Bond Referendum.
Until two recent events, we thought the county would do the right thing by funding the $40 million Park Bond 2008 with the taxes already in the Debt Service Fund as planned.
The first event was on July 26, when Chairman Tim Lee asked the Board to reduce the Debt Service Fund used for Park Bond repayment to zero as the Braves stadium takes the rest of the Fund.
The second event we read in the Aug. 6 Around Town where Commissioner Bob Ott recommends the county nix the $40 million 2008 Park Bond and vote for a new $40 million 2016 greenspace referendum instead.
During these years of citizen effort, we have not said the board misappropriated the $40 million Park Bond funds from citizens. However, if the 2008 Park Bond is not funded as voters decided by referendum, and the county shifts the exact tax money set for repaying the Park Bond into the Braves Stadium Bond, then it appears to be the definition of misappropriation of funds.
According to the Georgia Constitution, any bonds can be refinanced, so the full $40 million 2008 Park Bond amount can be funded legally and easily today. Also, county financial transactions do not need to wait for the next budget cycle. For example, at the July 12 meeting, the board took out a $30 million loan for current expenditures without a referendum.
One important question is who benefits from these greenspace funding delays? We note only the developers who have bulldozed or threatened to develop over half the ideal properties the 2008 Cobb Citizen Advisory Committee selected for parks next to schools, neighborhoods, and trails. The time to act is now because developers are revving their engines on several more Park Bond properties.
The heart of the Park Bond referendum debate is actually about democracy. If a board decides not to fund a voter-approved referendum, and then shifts the money into another project, then that board is not aligned with the democratic process.
The Cobb Board of Commissioners should fund the referendum we voted for without delay or misappropriation. Voters can look to future referendums once the board fulfills this democratically elected mandate on greenspace.
Cobb Parks Coalition