In the last few months, hundreds of people have asked the Board of Commissioners to honor its commitment to save land for parks by issuing the $40 million Park Bond of 2008, before using that park bond’s millage rate for the new Braves Stadium. Here’s how we can do both, and do it without raising taxes.
The current Debt Service Fund is set at .33 mills from property tax revenue. Of the total .33 mills, .11 mills was added in 2011 as a preventative measure against the economic downturn and to protect from low property tax income. Luckily, the economy improved and is on track to improve over the next few years, so a surplus tax revenue has been collected for the Debt Service Fund from 2011 until now.
Also, in the 2009/2010 Budget, the Board of Commissioners planned to add that same .1 mills to the Debt Service Fund for Park Bond 2008, if the Bond passed, which it did with over 65% of the vote.
In other words, .1 mills (which works out to about $9/year on an average home) is all that is needed to issue the 2008 Park Bond, and fortunately .11 mills was added in 2011 as a buffer against economic downturn. The years of economic upturn since 2011 have created this simple solution to issue both the Park Bond 2008 and the Braves Stadium Bond:
- First, keep .1 mills of the current .33 mills in the Debt Service Fund, while moving the other .23 mills into the already-approved 30-year Braves Stadium bond fund. Note that no new taxes would need to be raised.
- Next, issue the 2008 Park Bond for $40 million dollars, starting in late 2014 or early 2015.
- Finally, once the 2008 Park Bond is paid for in 2024 or earlier, that same .1 mills can be rolled over into the existing Braves Stadium Bond, as planned, but after paying for the 2008 Park Bond obligation.
If Park Bond 2008 is not issued before moving Park Bond millage rates from 1996, 2006 and 2008 Park Bonds to the General Fund, it gives the impression that Park Bond 2008 funds are being misallocated by the Braves stadium deal. To avoid that, we are asking that the County honor the 2008 referendum by issuing the $40 million dollars for the purchase of parkland.
Using the full amount of Park Bond 2008 to purchase greenspace / parkland will greatly improve home prices, people’s health and the environment as well as the overall quality of life in Cobb County. These improvements will in turn add to the economic vitality of Cobb County, and that is a win for everyone.
More information on this topic:
- By 2018, .22 mills of debt from previous bonds, including the 1996 and 2006 Park Bonds, will be paid off.
- In early 2014, Cobb County announced a plan to transfer the entire .33 millage rate for 30 years from the Debt Service Fund to the General Fund to pay for the new Braves stadium, and in July 2014 that bond plan was approved.
- In July and August 2014, people started asking the County to honor the 2008 Park Bond referendum by issuing the voter-approved $40 million dollars for the purchase of parkland, as intended, before reallocating these funds for any other project.