Fine Print of the Park Bond 2008 Referendum

On November 4, 2008, Cobb voters voted “YES” to this ballot referendum: “Shall Cobb County, Georgia, for the purpose of providing funds to acquire land located in Cobb County for use as public parks in perpetuity, issue bonded debt in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $40,000,000?”

Here are the fine details of the Park Bond 2008 Referendum that passed 65% of the vote.

“Pursuant to a Resolution adopted by the Board of Commissioners (the “Board of Commissioners”) of Cobb County, Georgia (the “County”) on July 22, 2008 (the “Resolution”), and a call of election issued by the Board of Elections and Registration of Cobb County, Georgia, notice is hereby given to the qualified voters of the County as follows: 1. On November 4, 2008, an election will be held in Cobb County to submit to the qualified voters of Cobb County the following question: ( ) YES ( ) NO “Shall Cobb County, Georgia, for the purpose of providing funds to acquire land located in Cobb County for use as public parks in perpetuity, issue bonded debt in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $40,000,000?” 

2. All qualified voters desiring to vote in favor of the County issuing such bonded debt shall vote “Yes” and all qualified voters opposed to the County issuing such bonded debt shall vote “No.” If more than one-half of the votes cast are in favor of the County issuing such bonded debt, then the County thereby shall have authority to issue such general obligation bonded debt in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $40,000,000 (the “Proposed Park Bonds” or the “Bonds”).

3. If approved, the County shall be authorized to issue the Proposed Park Bonds in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $40,000,000. The proceeds from such Proposed Park Bonds, if issued, shall be used to fund all or a portion of the cost of acquiring land located in the County for use as public parks in perpetuity and to pay the expenses incident thereto. The final maturity date of such Proposed Park Bonds shall be no later than December 31, 2023. The maximum rate or rates of interest on such debt shall not exceed seven percent (7.0%) per annum. The maximum amount of principal to be paid in each respective year during the term of such Proposed Park Bonds shall not exceed the following amounts: Year Principal Amount 2010 $ 3,500,000 2011 1,050,000 2012 1,110,000 2013 1,430,000 2014 1,510,000 2015 1,590,000 2016 1,670,000 2017 3,440,000 2018 3,610,000 2019 3,800,000 2020 4,000,000 2021 4,210,000 2022 4,430,000 2023 4,650,000 Total $40,000,000 The County may issue such Proposed Park Bonds in an aggregate principal amount less than $40,000,000 and may reduce the principal amounts maturing shown above.

The County may issue the Proposed Park Bonds at one or more times, provided that the aggregate principal amount so issued (excluding refunding bonds) shall not exceed $40,000,000. 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.

4 Reference is hereby made to Section 36-82-1(d) of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, which provides in part that any brochures, listings or other advertisements issued by the Board of Commissioners of the County or by any other person, firm, corporation or association with the knowledge and consent of the Board of Commissioners of the County shall be deemed to be a statement of intention of the Board of Commissioners of the County concerning the use of the bond funds, and such statement shall be binding on the Board of Commissioners in the expenditure of any such bond funds or interest received from such bond funds which have been invested, unless the Board of Commissioners uses such bond finds for the retirement of bonded indebtedness in the manner provided for in such Code Section or as otherwise authorized by such Code Section.

5. The last day to register to vote in the election is Monday, October 6, 2008. Anyone desiring to register may do so by applying in person at the voter registration office located at Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration, 736 Whitlock Avenue, Suite 400, Marietta, Georgia 30064, or by any other method authorized by the Georgia Election Code.

6. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. This 3rd day of October, 2008. COBB COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND REGISTRATION By: Sharon Dunn Director for the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration 10:3,10,17,24,31

Read more:Georgia Press Association Public Notice Website – M 2666 NOTICE OF ELECTION ON COBB COUNTY INCURRING BONDED DEBT TO ACQUIRE PARK LAND TO BE HELD ON NOVEMBER 4 2008

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Top 3 Q&A on Park Bond 2008

Top 3 Questions and AnswersSince 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.

 Q: “Are the results of voter-approved referendums binding? In other words, isn’t the County under an obligation to fund a voter-approved referendum, certainly before re-appropriating those funds?”Referendum

 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.

  1. Use existing .1 millage of the Debt ServicHistory of Debt Service Fund Millage Ratee 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. ChattahoocheePlease support this endeavor by sending a quick email to the Board of Commissioners, asking them to use the Park Bond 2008 for parks.

 

Read more: Top 5 Reasons why the Park Bond 2008 should be issued in 2014. Please fund Park Bond

5 Reasons to Issue Park Bond 2008 Now in 2014

Please fund Park BondThe $40 million Park Bond 2008 was overwhelmingly approved by voters, yet the Board of Commissioners has not issued the Bond to purchase any park property. To fund this Bond, only .1 millage is required, or about $9 a year on the average home. In 2011, the Board of Commissioners approved .11 millage as a preventative measure against the economy. Providentially, since the economy improved, the Debt Service Fund now has the perfect amount to cover Park Bond 2008 without raising taxes.  However, the new Braves Stadium bond plans to take the entire .33 millage from the Debt Service Fund before paying for the 2008 Park Bond. Therefore, we request that the Park Bond 2008 be issued before this, and here are 5 reasons why.

  1. Voters approved this Park Bond in 2008 and have the right to petition the County to use those funds, especially before the County re-appropriates those funds for any other purpose.
  1. Property values only get higher, and the sooner the $40 million from the 2008 Park Bond is spent, the more value Cobb County residents will get for their money they approved in the 2008 referendum.
  1. Developers are purchasing and building properties at an alarming rate, leaving very little ideal land left to be saved.
  1. $40 million is such as a small amount but what it gives back to people is priceless: a place to enjoy nature with friends and family.
  1. Passed in 2006, the Park Bond has been allowed to languish for 8 years and counting. This is too long to wait for a voter-approved, easily funded referendum.

 

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. ChattahoocheePlease support this endeavor by sending a quick email to the Board of Commissioners, asking them to use the Park Bond 2008 for parks.

A Win-Win: How to Pay for the 2008 Park Bond & the Braves Stadium, Without Raising Taxes

Sope CreekIn 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.

History of Debt Service Fund Millage Rate
The Debt Service Fund Millage Rate 1999-2013 in Cobb County, Georgia

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.

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.

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.

Please support this effort by sending a quick email below to the Board of Commissioners, asking them to use the Park Bond 2008 for parks.

More information on this topic: 

Chairman Budget Message 2009 2010
In the 2009/2010 Budget, the Board of Commissioners planned to move exactly .1 millage to the Debt Service Fund for Park Bond 2008.

Park Bond 2008 and Braves Stadium funding

Cobb Park Bond 2008 apply logoJust this past week, we confirmed that the $40 million Park Bond of 2008, which was approved overwhelmingly by voters, is still on the books and can be applied to purchase parkland at any point! However, we also recently realized that the Braves stadium bond financing package includes the very same unissued Park Bond of 2008.  In other words, the Park Bond 2008 has not been used to purchase parkland yet, but now it appears that it may be re-purposed or re-appropriated to pay for the Braves stadium. We have asked for confirmation or clarification from the Board of Commissioners about this point, but we have not received a reply.  We will update the blog with any news we get about this.

Here’s what we know so far.  On the Cobb County Braves FAQ page, the Q&A related to funding $397 million of the Braves stadium appears to be based on extending or re-purposing past Park Bonds:

“Will my property taxes be used to pay for this? Currently .33 mills of your property taxes pay for the parks bonds that were issued in 1996, 2007 and 2008. The last of those bonds will be paid off in 2017 and 2018. The millage will then be shifted to the General Fund when these bonds expire to raise an equivalent amount of revenues of $8.67 million. Those monies will then be used to pay for bonds to finance stadium construction. The average amount of .33 mills per household is $26 per year and this shift of funding will not impact other government services such as police, libraries, parks and other services.” 

Actually, .33 mills is only from the 1996 and 2006 (issued in 2007) Park Bonds, because the 2008 Park Bond was not used to purchase any property and did not affect the millage (property tax) rate.  In terms of the history of these Park Bonds, the $30 million Park Bond 1996 was used to purchase much needed parkland, as was the $40 million Park Bond in 2006The Park Bond in 2008 had already formed a Committee, which detailed a list of properties to purchase, but the Bond was not issued due to the economy and no amount of the $40 million bond money was spent on purchasing those properties. 

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.

Add a Park Bond to the November 2014 Ballot

Many current & future building projects are planned for Cobb County, including the new Braves Stadium, so Cobb citizens want to take this time to preserve enough parkland & green space for our growing population to enjoy.

  • The 2006 Park Bond for $40 million was a great success & protected nearly 400 acres. 
The 2006 Park Bond established Parks in which 400 acres of land was saved
  • The 2008 Park Bond for $40 million passed with overwhelming support but was never used to purchase parks, and some of the land slated to be saved has either been developed or is under threat of being developed.

  • The 2014 Park Bond would give us another chance to protect Cobb County from overdevelopment, keep Cobb beautiful, positively affect our quality of life, home values, and the environment. 

View the Top 10 frequently asked questions about the 2014 Park Bond.

Actions to helpPlease email the Commissioners directly from here, share the Park Bond message with others, & sign up for updates.

The Board of Commissioners has until early August to add items to the ballot.

 

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