8 February 2016
Dear Commissioners ~
Thank you for your February 5 letter clarifying your understanding of the legality of fully funding Park Bond 2008. However, it still appears clear that the Board of Commissioners has absolute authority to fully fund the Park Bond with new "terms and conditions" according to the fine print of the ballot referendum language, and here is the reason why:
When the Board of Commissioners chose not to fund the Park Bonds in 2009, the Board, in effect and automatically, changed the terms and conditions going forward. The Park Bond's terms have already been changed once because the bonds were not issued on the planned start date.
In other words, fully funding Park Bond 2008 now in 2016 would be the second time the Park Bond's terms and conditions were re-set by the Board of Commissioners. Therefore, the Board can again modify the terms and conditions, including a new repayment schedule.
According to the Park Bond details: "The Proposed Park Bonds shall be dated, shall be payable on the dates, shall have such redemption terms, shall be issued in such denominations, and shall have such other terms and conditions as the Board of Commissioners may determine prior to the issuance of such Bonds."
Also, since the Park Bond has not yet been funded, it is still "prior to the issuance of such Bonds", and the repayment dates must automatically and evidently be re-termed since the issuance of the Park Bond was delayed.
The voters and the County should not be negatively impacted by the previous Board's decision, when the current Board canlegally fix the situation by fully funding the Park Bond, just as easily as the previous Board legally created the situation by not funding the Park Bond as anticipated.
The simplest repayment schedule would be to extend the Debt Service Fund (currently at .1 mils) by 7 years, because it was delayed 7 years, now that the Braves financing is only taking .23 mils of the available .33 mils. A complex repayment schedule could complete the Park Bond repayment by 2023 while maintain Braves funding with the Debt Service Funds: If .23 mils were applied to Park Bond repayment for fewer than 7 years ($6 million x 7 years = $42 million from 2016 to 2023), and .1 mils were kept for the Braves for 7 years, and then moving .13 mils more for the Braves for the remaining 23 years of the 30-year stadium financing bond, then the Park Bond could be funded by 2023 as stated in the original terms.
In Article 36, Section 82, another option is the Board could refund or refinance the Park Bond for the full $40 million after issuing it, because this is also allowable under the law: the interest rates are lower now and the repayment schedule would be shorter.
A final significant issue here is that in any democracy referendums are binding and are mandated to be successfully funded. A referendum literally means "to refer an issue of importance to the direct vote of the electorate". Voters approved this "issue of importance", and the full $40 million amount should be funded as voters elected. The earmarked Debt Service Fund Park Bond money should not be reappropriated for another project instead of funding the voter-approved Park Bond Referendum of 2008.
The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a Board is obligated to fully fund voter-approved referendums as intended. Other court cases around the country support the democratic right of direct referendum funding, and certainly before moving earmarked money for any other project.
Cobb citizens will welcome the Board of Commissioners' decision to fulfill its obligation on the Park Bond 2008 Referendum, and we look forward to Park Bond 2008 being fully funded at the February Board of Commissioners meeting.
On behalf of the Cobb Parks Coalition
29 January 2016
Dear Commissioners ~
We have re-read the Park Bond 2008 legal paperwork, where it says the Park Bond must be paid by 2023. There is actually a phrase in this same document which gives the Board of Commissioners the leeway to modify the repayment terms, for example to extend the Bond 7 years, because it was delayed 7 years:
"The Proposed Park Bonds shall be dated, shall be payable on the dates, shall have such redemption terms, shall be issued in such denominations, and shall have such other terms and conditions as the Board of Commissioners may determine prior to the issuance of such Bonds."
This is the full legal notice for Park Bond 2008: Georgia Press AssociationPublic Notice Website - M 2666 NOTICE OF ELECTION ON COBB COUNTY INCURRINGBONDED DEBT TO ACQUIRE PARK LAND TO BE HELD ON NOVEMBER 4 2008
and you can also read the notice here: https://cobbparkbond.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/fine-print-of-the-park-bond-2008-referendum
This phrase "shall have such other terms and conditions as the Board of Commissioners may determine prior to the issuance of such Bonds " gives the Board of Commissioners the authority to re-time the Park Bond repayment dates by 7 years to match the economic reality, since the Board has delayed the Park Bond 7 years. The Board can in essence create new terms & conditions that align with the delayed funding.
The fact that the Park Bond was delayed could be considered legal according to the Georgia Constitution, Article IX, Section II on Home Rule for Counties.
Since the earmarked Park Bond money is being moved to pay for another project for 30 years, clearly the economy has recovered enough to honor this 2008 Referendum for 15 years. The same amount of money planned to Park Bond 2008 is available now to pay it in the same about of time, since the Braves now only use .23 of the total .33 available earmarked for Park Bonds in the Debt Service Fund. The .1 left would be enough money to easily fund the full $40 million by 2030.
This is a simple solution every voter can understand: The Bonds were delayed 7 years due to the declining economy, so now the Bonds will be extended 7 years due to the improved economy, in order to fulfill the obligation to fund the voter-approved Park Bond Referendum of 2008.
We ask the Park Bond 2008 be funded at the February Board of Commissioners meeting.
On behalf of the Cobb Parks Coalition