Parks Board member resigns over Braves deal
January 13, 2014 10:41 PM | 1168 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

Although I, too, would like to see the Braves move to Cobb County, I disagree with the way in which the process was handled; the continuation of residential property taxes to fund it; and how significantly, and adversely, it may lessen the availability of funding to other county departments.

My specific concerns revolve around the way this project, to build a ballpark for the Braves/Liberty Media parent business organization, relates to the lack of county park funding for its residents’/voters’ needs, involving the new park properties that were purchased as a result of the 2006/07 $40 million voter-approved bond referendum/financing.

How can the county, so arbitrarily and without public input, decide to fund a ballpark for a private business enterprise and at the same time be unwilling to fund the park needs of its residents (parking areas, restroom facilities and necessary additional park personnel) for its newest parks?

This is especially disturbing since a major portion of the proposed Braves financing will come from a 30-year continuation of the residential property tax millage rate requirement originally earmarked to pay down the voter approved $40 million parks bond.

Although the county maintains there will be no new taxes for residents, I believe this 30-year tax continuation is merely a manipulation of wording that is viewed very differently by many resident voters throughout the county, across political party affiliations.

Additionally, I do not agree that another SPLOST financing is the only way that funding, for parks infrastructure/master plan development and additional personnel needs can be accomplished.

I believe the county’s offer to the Braves organization was hastily conceived, without appropriate and professional due diligence, and rushed through to approval by the Board of Commissioners. I think we can be fairly certain that the Braves/Liberty Media organization had numerous, professional, business and financial analysts evaluating this opportunity, while the county had only Commission Chairman Tim Lee and his inner circle of like-minded associates. It does not surprise me that the Braves wanted to consummate this “deal” as quickly as possible, before it had to stand up to any public or voter scrutiny.

As I understood the project from discussions after its announcement, it would generate $11 million dollars of revenue for the county; however, the yearly debt service alone, excluding any additional costs of maintenance, etc., will be $17.9 million. Hardly a positive cash flow scenario favoring the county.

At the end of 30 years, all that is likely to remain is an old stadium that the Braves no longer want to utilize (Turner Field being only 17 or 18 years old), and then, once again, the “new ballpark or we leave scenario” will resurface.

Believing as strongly as I do, and knowing that we disagree on the above issues, I hope Lee and the other commissioners will consider an opposing opinion, intended to be constructive.

Knowing the opposing views above are contrary to Lee’s position, I anticipated that the county would not wish me to speak openly about these concerns and continue as a board member of Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and, therefore, I have resigned from that position as requested.

Many governmental organizations encourage and welcome differing perspectives. I would like to believe that these issues might be more fully considered.

Jim Dugan

Powder Springs

Comments
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Voter & Payer
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January 14, 2014
Mr. Dugan your view of the situation is 100% correct, but I so wish you had not given up yet. Fight for injustice until the end. This deal is all about money and ego as is everything in politics and that comes before a resident's need or what is lawful. But I have a question, I thought the Braves signed a 20 yr commitment with Cobb and the new stadium bond is for 30 yrs. If so, that means Cobb citizens could be paying another 10 yrs without a tenant. Can someone clarify?
Michelle Sollicito
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January 15, 2014
Jim

I hope your bravery is rewarded and that someone steps up to offer you a job in lieu of the one you felt you had to give up in order to speak honestly and openly about this.

If only more people were this brave and willing to sacrifice in order to make a stand against injustices and wrongs.

Good luck finding another position - I feel sure someone will reach out to you
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