Since realizing in July 2014 that the unissued funds for Park Bond 2008 are planned to be essentially re-appropriated into the new Braves stadium bond, people have started asking important questions about Park Bond 2008. Here are the top 3 questions and answers.
Q: “On the Braves FAQ page, it says the stadium bonds are using the millage rates of the issued Park Bonds from 1996, 2007 and 2008. Why is Park Bond 2008 included when it has not yet been issued?”
A: The $40 million Park Bond in 2006 was issued in two installments: in 2006-2007, $25 million of the $40 million was issued, and in 2008, $15 million of the $40 million was issued. In other words, part of the Park Bond 2006 money was spent in 2007 and the rest of it was spent in 2008. The Cobb County Braves FAQ is misleading because the real Park Bond 2008 has not been issued yet, but rather Park Bond 2006 was spent in 2 phases.
A: That is a good question, and many wonder why citizens should have to petition the County now on an already voter-approved referendum. Ethically, it would seem that Park Bond 2008 or any other voter-approved referendum should be at the top of the budget to-do list every year.
Q: “How can we pay for Park Bond 2008 without raising taxes at this point?”
A: Here are 3 potential ways without raising taxes to issue Park Bond 2008, besides the original way of paying for the Park Bond 2008 with the current millage rates that are now being shifted to the General Fund to fund the Braves stadium bond. Of course other creative financing solutions than these 3 could be fashioned by the County to honor its obligation, these are just ideas. In general, Park Bonds are issued and then paid back with the Debt Service Fund, which is funded by property tax income, also known as millage points.
- Use existing .1 millage of the Debt Service Fund, before the entire .33 millage of the Debt Service Fund gets moved into the Braves stadium bond fund: 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 would have been collected for the Debt Service Fund from 2011 until now. Coincidentally, in July 2008, the Board of Commissioners planned to add that same amount, .1 mills, to the Debt Service Fund specifically to pay for the 2008 Park Bond. So the .11 mills that is already in the Debt Service Fund could be directed towards paying for Park Bond 2008.
- By shifting millage from another Fund: In 2008, the Board of Commissioners planned to shift .1 mills from the Fire District Fund into the Debt Service Fund, which pays for Park Bonds. Some other Funds within the budget may have accumulated extra income and be available to fund Park Bond 2008.
- 2011 SPLOST surplus + 2006 Park Bond millage: The 2011 SPLOST has collected over $20 million more than budgeted in tax revenue. Perhaps some of that money could be used to fund Park Bond 2008 until Park Bond 2006 funds set to expire in 2016 are re-invested for Park Bond 2008.
We are asking that Park Bond 2008 be issued as soon as possible, before re-purposing the bond for any other project, such as the Braves stadium financing. Please support this endeavor by sending a quick email to the Board of Commissioners, asking them to use the Park Bond 2008 for parks.