Cobb County spent all its money on Braves stadium, doesn’t have enough left for public parks

In 2008, voters in Cobb County, Georgia, approved a $40 million bond issue to acquire and build new public parks. The money still hasn’t been spent yet, though, because at first it was delayed by the Great Recession (are we still calling it that?) and now by certain other spending priorities:

County officials say only $20 million will be available to buy park land.

Many of those public speakers at the commissioners’ meetings have wondered why the full amount could not be made available through the debt service fund, requiring no tax increase, since the commissioners were able to fund nearly $400 million for the Atlanta Braves to move to Cobb…

Commission Chairman Tim Lee has said a tax increase would now be needed to pay for the $40 million Park Bond 2008.

This guy is really trying hard to lose the election, isn’t he?

It’s worthwhile to note that this isn’t just a case of the county spending general revenue on the stadium and having none left over for parks, which would be bad enough; rather, the county actually redirected tax revenue that had been earmarked for public parks to pay for the stadium bonds, even though the park project was approved by voters, and the stadium never was. I’d say something snarky here about Cobb County’s attitude toward democracy, but Lee has already managed that quite nicely himself.


16 comments on “Cobb County spent all its money on Braves stadium, doesn’t have enough left for public parks

  1. Something on a smaller scale happened in Trenton, NJ back in the 90s. The voters of Mercer County approved an open space tax to preserve farms and other green spaces and then the freeholders (NJ equivalent of county commissioners) diverted $3 million from the Open Space Fund to help build a stadium for the AA Trenton Thunder.

  2. Serious??? No money left for little ‘insignificant’ things like….public parks?

    Is it just you, me and others here with functioning minds…but have the people in Cobb County had their brains baked by the heat? And all this done for not a baseball team….but a real estate operation, disguised as s baseball team.

    • Only five people in Cobb County, really, since that’s the number of people on the board of commissioners that approved this. And one voted against it, as I recall, so really only four people.

      • Neil….even so, this crap is insane. Even Eddie Antar would have stayed away from this scam….and those current and former NYC kids know what Antar did.

        So how many decades before the Braves decide to leave…and take up space in ….oh let’s say …..Athens?

  3. If Tim Lee does not have already lined up with the Braves a cushy high-paying job that requires no morals, no ethics, no talent, and no human decency, than it is truly an unfair world.

  4. On the lighter side of the Braves relocation mess, Garrison Keillor slammed the deal with a skit at one of his shows in Atlanta. http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2016/06/06/as-he-exits-garrison-keillor-skewers-atlanta-braves-move-to-cobb-county/

  5. My county rep voted against it. Tim Lee and his cronies acted in their own interest in spite of the will of the voting public.

    • Voting percentages can be misconstrued. Is that a percentage of the TOTAL voting population, or a total of the registered Republican base? Remember, this is a partisan position – elected by party – which means any registered Democrat or Independent could not vote on this important race without foregoing the right to vote for other key elected positions outside the County Board of Commissioners (where only registered Republicans are running).

  6. And yet only 13.3% of registered Cobb voters bothered to vote in the recent primary. Even fewer will show up for the run-off in July.
    http://www.cobbelections.org/pdf/OfficialResults/2016/24May16_ResultsOfficialSummary.pdf

  7. I bet it’s called SunTrust “Park” so that Lee can say it’s technically a park.

    If this guy isn’t voted out I’ll lose more hope for humanity.

    • I would respectfully submit, that if you haven’t already lost most of your “hope for humanity” yet, you haven’t been paying attention. As for me, whatever is left of my hope for humanity (or at least the part of it which resides in the U.S.), will be on the line November 8. We shall see.

  8. For Context:
    http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2016/06/07/cobb-chairman-lee-county-didn-t-choose-suntrust.html?ana=e_atl_bn_breakingnews&u=1rPoEGbsuv3c8XxjSz%2FDZQ0f93bf56&t=1465332893&j=73829322

    • Technically, Lee’s right in the exact wording of his statement: The county didn’t vote to take money away from parks and give it to the stadium. Rather, as I understand it, when tax revenue came in too slowly to pay off the entire set of planned parks bonds on time, the county said “Sorry, time’s up!” and directed future tax revenue to the stadium instead.

      It’s a bit like promising your kid a new PS4, and then saying, “Sorry, Daddy’s paycheck was late this week, so you’re not getting it. The good news is, Daddy’s getting a new motorcycle!”

  9. 1) This post is not factual. In fact, if I am reading it correctly, it is actually made up. The Board of Commissioners did not divert 2008 Park Bonds to fund the Braves Stadium. The 2008 Parks Bonds were never issued. One cannot divert something that does not currently exist.

    2) The decision not to issue the parks bonds was made in 2010 by a former commission chairman. They were not issued because we were in the middle of the great recession. This was widely reported at the time http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/millions-for-parkland-in-cobb-county-highly-unlike/nQcPB/ .

    3) Taxes in Cobb County have been DECREASED 3 times in the last 3 years. The millage went from 7.32 to 7.12 to 6.82. Taxes are lower today then they were 3 years ago, not higher. No one ever declared that taxes are going to be raised. Ever. Taxes will not be raised for SunTrust park or any park. That is simply false.

    I encourage you and any of your readers to contact me any time for the facts. I have actual documentation to back up every single thing I just typed and I can be reached at kelliemcdonough@hotmail.com

    • 1) The tax money existed, and the park bonds were voted for. The money was not used to pay for the park bonds, though that’s what voters had approved the tax for. Cobb County itself uses the term “shifting” the tax money from the park bonds to the stadium, which if there’s a semantic distinction from “redirected,” I don’t know what it is:

      http://cobbcounty.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2713&Itemid=698

      2) True, and explained further in my followup post two days ago:

      http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2016/06/08/11197/tim-lee-steamed-at-reports-he-siphoned-off-parks-money-for-braves-stadium-but-yeah-he-sure-did/#comments

      3) There’s currently no money budgeted for the 2008 parks bond, because the money approved at the time has been shifted to the stadium. The only ways to fund it now would be to a) raise taxes, b) cut some other spending, or c) rob a bank.

      FYI, since she doesn’t ID herself, Kellie McDonough Brownlow is Tim Lee’s communications director:

      https://www.facebook.com/mlstephens/posts/10205342822277428
      http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/cobb-chairmans-chief-deputy-plagiarized-a-second-t/nnhr5/

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