1. The original plan in 2008 was to move some millage from the Fire Fund into the Debt Service Fund to repay Park Bond 2008. The Fire Fund millage can be transferred without any interruption to Public Safety funding needs.
2. Another option involves restoring the exact Debt Service Fund millage that was diverted to the Braves Stadium Bond back into the Debt Service Fund to repay Park Bond 2008.
A: It is true the county collected millage (property taxes) intended to repay Park Bond 2008, but the Board of Commissioners under Chairman Olens and Chairman Lee chose not to issue the money for it, despite that the availability of the funds, and the critical need for parks & greenspace listed in every Cobb long-range plan. In fact, over 6,000 acres are needed to achieve Cobb’s greenspace goals, and $40 million Park Bond 2008 will help purchase only a few hundred acres.
Q: If property tax money was already collected for Park Bond 2008 from the millage, what happened to those funds?
A: The collected property taxes from previous millage rates were spent on repaying the 2006 Park Bond 2 years earlier than planned. In other words, the property taxes were collected but applied to another debt. However, there is a “multi-million balance” in the Debt Service Fund not yet applied to Park Bond 2008. We have asked but not received confirmation about what happened to those funds when the millage rate intended for Park Bond 2008 was shifted into the Braves Stadium Bond in the 2017 budget. The Debt Service Fund balance should be applied to Park Bond 2008, which will lower the overall cost for any future millage rates.
- It's clear that the proposed 2017 millage tax increase is not due to the Park Bond, because the millage intended for Park Bond 2008 has been directly diverted into the Braves (See video above about the shifted .23 mills).
- In July 2016, the previous Board with Chairman Lee lowered the Debt Service Fund intended for Park Bond 2008 by .1 mills.
- So in just the last year, a combined total of .33 mills available for quick & easy Park Bond 2008 funding has been lost despite 8 years of waiting, asking, encouraging, and petitioning the Board of Commissioners to do the right thing as voters approved by referendum.
- All this happened as many properties selected by the Park Bond Cobb Citizen Advisory Committees have been developed and paved over, rather than preserved as green parks as Park Bond 2008 funding would accomplish.
- In 2008, 67% of Cobb voters approved $40 million Park Bond 2008 by referendum. Funding was planned by moving .1 mills of the nearly 2.56 mills from the Fire Fund. (NOTE: Currently the Fire Fund has 2.96 millage, and a $40 million balance, so moving .1 mills is still the simplest solution and would leave 2.86 mills, which equals more than $80 million a year.)
- In 2009, Chairman Olens said Park Bond 2008 would be delayed due to the economy.
- In 2013, the Board of Commissioners under Chairman Lee announced the exact millage rate set for repayment of the Park Bond 2008 would be directly “shifted” to pay for part of the Braves Stadium bond, but without funding the 2008 Park Bond first.
- Once it was known that the Park Bond millage rates would be "shifted" into the Braves Stadium Bond, we knew the "economy" was not the issue anymore. So concerned citizens started petitioning the Board of Commissioners to fund Park Bond 2008 as voters approved, before moving the millage into any other project. Note: The Cobb Parks Coalition has nothing against the Braves; rather our goal is to ensure the democratically elected Park Bond 2008 is fully funded as voters approved, before the millage intended for parks is shifted into any other project.
- In January 2016, Chairman Lee said he would consider issuing the Park Bond after a coalition of concerned citizens in every district of Cobb focused on one central mission: To achieve full funding of the $40 million Cobb County Parks Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2008 for the acquisition of park land.
- In July 2016, Chairman Lee and the Board surprisingly reduced the Debt Service Fund by .1 mills & the Fire Fund by .1 mills, thereby removing the 2 most viable options for Park Bond 2008 funding, already available in the millage rate since 2008!
- This .2 mills reduction of the millage was taken despite a multi-year campaign of literally thousands of emails, calls, and a committed group of citizens speaking at every Board of Commissioners meetings.
- In July 2016, Chairman Boyce won his campaign against Chairman Lee by the same 2/3 majority of citizens that voted for Park Bond 2008.
- In 2016, Chairman Boyce campaigned on the Park Bond issue (as well as other important issues). Greenspace acquisition resonates with voters due to the unprecedented growth in Cobb that has not stopped to preserve some historically and environmentally significant properties as mapped out in every long-range Cobb plan.
- In April 2017, Chairman Boyce and the Board issued $27.5 million of the $40 million voters approved, so today only $12.5 million more is required to fulfill this voter-approved mandate.