As Mark Twain said, “Buy land. They are not making it anymore.” We continue to ask the Board of Commissioners to fund the 2008 Park Bond Referendum that 67 percent of Cobb voters approved before the land is gone. The board has denied the democratic process by not funding the referendum created to provide an oasis of green space for communities.
Before July 26, 2016, the board could have funded both the $40 million 2008 Park Bond and the $400 million Braves Stadium Bond with the 0.33 mills property tax rate in the Debt Service Fund. But now the Debt Service Fund is in trouble.
At the July meeting, Chairman Tim Lee proposed lowering Debt Service Fund taxes by 0.1 mill, and the Board approved this reduction after already committing the other 0.23 mills in the Fund to the Braves Stadium. Reducing the tax rate nets just $8 for the average homeowner, saves no parkland, and appears to take the Debt Service Fund down to an unprecedented zero.
Zeroing out the Debt Service Fund would result in a tough situation for newly elected Chairman Mike Boyce. According to Cobb’s online records, the Debt Service Fund has never dropped below a 0.22 mill tax rate. The board should restore at least 0.1 mill to the Debt Service Fund for Park Bond 2008 repayment.
We also recently discovered the Debt Service Fund has been taking in millions more than projected for years due to the upbeat economy. So much more that Park Bond 2006 will be repaid a full 2 years earlier than planned. That means taxpayers could lose millions for Park Bond 2008 if the Board doesn’t fund it before Park Bond 2006 is repaid.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Because more than half of the 29 park bond properties have been bulldozed by developers, and more are in danger, we must keep pressing for Chairman Lee and the Board to fund the Park Bond now. The 46-acre Bells Ferry park property in Commissioner JoAnn Birrell’s District 3 is again under serious risk of development, and many more chosen park properties are, too.
Would citizens rather have 300 acres of pristine parkland or a one-time $8 refund? The choice is clear, and fulfilling Park Bond 2008 will be a win for everyone.
Cobb Parks Coalition
From the MDJ Letters to the Editor: How commissioners can fulfill the voter referendum on parks