Failure to rezone property costing Cobb school
June 04, 2013 12:06 AM | 1903 views | 10 10 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

I’m writing about the Cobb County School Board’s $86 million budget deficit. I agree that requiring senior citizens to pay the school tax is not the solution.

As a former Cobb teacher, it is disgraceful what has happened. Cobb’s school system is in crisis! With 183 teacher jobs eliminated, five forced unpaid furlough days (a 2 percent decrease in pay) year after year, and class sizes increasing, it’s time for a change.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa recently compared Cobb’s spending per student to neighboring counties. Cobb student spending at $83 per student vs. Fulton at $181 vs. Gwinnett at $240. Not only are teachers not paid fairly but we cannot afford to give students adequate resources to be successful.

Is there a solution to improve the quality of our education with multi-year budget deficits? Gov. Deal’s goal is to recruit new businesses for our state. What a grand idea! It creates new jobs, provides new services, and generates millions in new tax revenues that directly fund the school system, dollars desperately needed.

Why does West Cobb Commissioner, Helen Goreham refuse to support rezoning major parcels along Dallas Highway that would generate millions of dollars in taxes? In April 2013, Jeff Fuqua, a large commercial developer, discussed placing an upscale farmer’s market concept and other retailers on the corner of Casteel and Dallas Highway on a 20-acre tract, adjacent to the Avenues. The annual estimated taxes were $20 million, yet Goreham not only opposed that proposal but has repeatedly opposed commercial zoning in west Cobb for over 10 years. That one property over a decade could have generated $200 million in new taxes for our schools.

Why aren’t citizens up in arms? I suggest a call to action. Let’s work smart to develop our community with new businesses that we need, create new jobs, and simultaneously get the much needed tax dollars to pay our teachers fairly and become the best school district state wide.

Susan L. Wright

Kennesaw
Comments
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West Cobb Resident
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June 19, 2013
I wonder if you have ever even stepped foot into West Cobb. We currently have 3 strip malls in our area alone that were started in the last 3 years. All were suppose to bring tax revenue and Jobs to West Cobb. After cutting down beautiful wooded land two of the strip malls were NEVER completed and sit in total disrepair. The third was finished but only has one tenant. there are too many retail spaces available for rent, they are just not needed.

The commissioner refuses to rezone because they understand there is not a demand for more retail space in West cobb. There are many factors in the decision to allow zoning. Does the project have stable funding, is there a demand for the service or goods the project will produce, Will the project have a chance of success or will it end up failing and become an eyesore.

If commissioners were to just approve everything because it MIGHT bring in tax revenue. We would have a lot more empty and unfinished buildings, becoming a hazard and destroying our community.

west cobber
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June 06, 2013
Please keep this as zoned, least we end up like East Cobb. Furthermore, we don't need more commercial property when commercial buildings sit empty in West Cobb.
Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 05, 2013
Laura, Lindsey Field has done an excellent job of providing this information about where Cobb's school tax dollars are going in just about every article she has written on the budget. I am FURIOUS that Dr. H considers this "The New Normal" and that Cobb Citizens are not marching at the Capitol!!!!! I would be happy to take me and my wheelchair to the Capitol if I tought it would make a difference! They have been "sticking it to Cobb" for 30 years!!!!!!! It is time for them to stop.
@ Dr. Plenge
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June 06, 2013
I'd be less concerned about the new normal and more focused on rallying teachers and families across Georgia to apply pressure to Georgia's reps, senators and Gov. Deal to restore the school austerity cuts.

If you are paying attention, districts across the state are beginning to raise school property tax millage in an ongoing era of decreasing revenues.

Gwinnett is doing so while also enjoying more than $40 million in equalization funding that the Cobb and Marietta systems fail to receive.
Keli Gambrill
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June 04, 2013
Land Use Plan. The guide and policy framework for making land use decisions within the community.

Commissioner Goreham has been consistent in upholding the Land Use Plan as she has continually denied, with the support her constituents in West Cobb, commercial development on this parcel and others along Dallas Hwy.

Cobb County Schools are in crisis, but compromising on the Land Use Plan is not the solution. There are benefits and burdens to every decision ever made by our Government, and unfortunately, we are beyond simple solutions with only burdens left to fall on “We the People”.

I have been reading the discussions on issuing a Bond for Franklin Road to make it appealing to the business community as we do not have enough office space to meet demand.

The parcel in question is currently zoned for a two-story Low Rise Office which could be built today.

West Cobb currently has several shopping centers and office buildings that are not occupied which were (could be) built according to the Land Use Plan.

For the past decade the Cobb County Commissioners have favored residential developments over commercial, which has resulted in a bedroom community with overcrowding of our schools and existing infrastructure.

The recently approved E-SPLOST and SPLOST do not include plans or funding to address the overcrowding of our schools or infrastructure in West Cobb. West Cobb will not have another opportunity to receive funding for improvements from these taxes for at least another 5 years.

Mr. Fuqua still has the opportunity to bring a quality development to the area and the Land Use Plan has several sites available that are currently zoned and ready for his proposed development.

West Cobbian
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June 04, 2013
The stability of home values depends greatly on adhering to the Future Land Use Plan. The FLUP is also why Hwy 120 is still residence-oriented in West Cobb compared to the commercial exploitation of the same road in East Cobb. If you want commercialization of residential property, I suggest you ask the Planning and Zoning Board to rezone residential parcels near your house to commercial so you can "enjoy" the noise, lights, and traffic attendant to commercial sites, not to mention the resulting decrease in your house's value.
Dr. Teresa Plenge
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June 04, 2013
Gwinnett spends $240 per student because the long outdated QBE formula allows Gwinnett to get $65 million of COBB TAX PAYERS MONEY every year and that amount will go up every year!!!!!We need that money right here in Cobb, but our own legislators think it is funny to watch the School Board scramble to pass a budget. They will not be laughing in 5-10 years when home values in Gwinnett are so much higher than those in Cobb because of educational funding inequities. There indeed should be a tax payers revolt in Cobb!!!!! Why are the citizens of Cobb not already up in arms about this one issue? Why do they let the legislators off the hook and just complain to the School Board members who are not at all happy about our money going to Gwinnett. Whould someone PLEASE explain this to me? I just don't get it.
I'm ignorant
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June 04, 2013
Thank you Dr. Plenge. This infuriates me to know that $65 million of our tax dollars are going to Gwinnett. Excuse my ignorance - but who are our legislators here in Cobb to address? I am relatively "new" to the community and want to know where to direct my disappointment.
Amen to that!
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June 04, 2013
Dr. Plenge is absolutely right! Why aren't Cobb citizens outraged? Because they are low-information voters, that's why... no one makes an attempt to connect the dots, no one cares enough to get involved. They just want to complain and whine. It's sad, really.
Laura Armstrong
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June 05, 2013
The QBE provisions you mention were established in the early to mid 1980s by entities such as the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (I seem to remember working on the issue). It's way beyond time to update those formulas and quit "spreading the wealth around" to counties such as Gwinnett that have boomed since then. Thanks, Dr. Plenge, for reminding us of this. Also, the existing school board needs to ramp it up and try working WITH legislators, now that the demagogues on the board are gone. They might already be, but we are just not reading about it. MDJ?
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