ALL THE BACK AND FORTH over the issuance (and/or non-issuance) of bonds to purchase green space in Cobb County is heating up with the runoff election just a month away. It’s a frequent topic at commission meetings, often appears in the MDJ Letters to the Editor column and is knocking around the internet like a pinball off a flipper.
Despite all the exposure, though, the issues aren’t fully understood.
Confusion has resulted because, like many things left to the politicians and bureaucrats, the various bond programs and their relationships to each other are overly complicated.
But misunderstandings also have resulted because the parks bonds and their link to the construction of SunTrust Park have become a political football for the upcoming runoff election between incumbent Cobb Chairman Tim Lee and challenger Mike Boyce.
If it’s going to loom largely in the election’s outcome, it’s important for people to have a clear understanding of the issue. And that’s just not been happening.
Case in point: Some believe that the county has been collecting taxes on the “2008 Parks Bond” despite the fact the bonds were never issued. This has led some to ask how that money has been spent if not for parklands. The point is illustrated by this excerpt from a recently submitted Letter to the Editor:
“Property taxes for all three Park Bonds (1996, 2006 and 2008) have been collected for years, but the 2008 Park Bond has not been issued, and not one acre of parkland has been purchased in nearly a decade. Many wonder where the tax money for the 2008 Park Bond went. Why have property taxes been collected for the 1996, 2006 and 2008 Park Bonds, yet the $40 million Park Bond 2008 has not been spent?”
The confusion comes from what is referred to by “2008 Parks Bond.” Some use the term when referring to the referendum approved by voters in November of 2008. Others interpret the term to refer to the parks bonds approved in 2006, but issued in 2008.
To clear up the matter, Around Town questioned Bill Volckmann, assistant comptroller for Cobb County, who refuted the statement and confirmed that the county had not been collecting money for bonds that were never issued. Here is his reply:
“The property taxes that are collected in the County’s debt service fund can only be used to pay the debt service on the County’s existing General Obligation Bonds. The County currently has three General Obligation Bonds outstanding (see below). The County did not issue the additional $40 million of Parks Bonds approved by the voters on Nov. 8, 2008. Again, the tax collections are needed to pay the existing debt service on the outstanding bonds. The County is not collecting taxes for the $40 million in parks that were approved by the voters, but not issued.”
Mr. Volckmann also provided a nifty table that makes things easier to understand.
While there are other disagreements and misconceptions out there over the parks bonds, Around Town’s intent here was to address what had been brought to our attention.
REPUBLICAN CONVENTION: Donna Rowe of east Cobb is one of several Cobb Countians who will be headed to Cleveland next month as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. But she’s not especially happy with the location the RNC chose.
During this week’s Development Authority of Cobb County meeting, Rowe, a board member, said she will not be able to attend the board’s July meeting due to her commitment to being a delegate.
“I’m sorry. I have to be in Cleveland,” Rowe said with a laugh. “I always get selected to go to the best places. Not San Diego, not Tampa. No, I was selected to go to Cleveland.”
Nelson Geter, the development authority’s executive director, tried to cheer her up.
“I was in Cleveland this weekend. … You’re going to be surprised. It’s a wonderful city,” Geter said.
Rowe did not appear swayed.
“I know you’re trying to make me feel better, Nelson,” Rowe said. “I’ll tell you how sad I was about this. I booked myself first class because I said, ‘If I’m going to Cleveland, I may as well go and have some fun on the way.’”
Later, board member Richard Moore said he also wouldn’t be able to make the July meeting because of a conflict with his duties on the board at the Coastal College of Georgia, which once again led to Rowe lamenting about her upcoming trip.
“Did he say the Coastal College of Georgia? You’re going to be down on the coast, I take it, Richard?” Rowe said. “And I’ll be in Cleveland, on the coast of some big lake. I don’t even know what lake it is.”
Other Cobb delegates going to Cleveland are Bob Barr, Robert Booth, Fred Elrod, Randy Evans, Dee Gay, Barbara Hickey, Scott Johnson, Carolyn Meadows and Sam Olens. Cobb alternates attending are Rose Wing, Louie Hunter and Carolyn Roddy.
For the record, Donna, it’s Lake Erie.
CLUB NEWS: Boots and Brews for Books is a Metro-Marietta Kiwanis Club fundraiser for the club’s Morgan Thomas Scholarship Fund, STAR Student Banquet and educational programs. The event is from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight at Red Hare Brewery, 1998 Delk Industrial Blvd., Marietta.
Tickets at the door are $45 and include Red Hare’s craft beer brews, Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q and live entertainment by the Yuppie Scum Band.
SICK BAY: Holly Tuchman, CEO of the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, was on vacation last weekend with her husband, Robert, when she began feeling poorly and was having difficulty breathing. She was admitted into Memorial University Medical Center on Saturday and has been unresponsive since, although we are told she is not in a medically induced coma. She was put on a ventilator on Thursday and doctors believe she may have a rare inflammatory disease called Bickerstaff brainstem encephalitis.
According to Friday’s post on the CaringBridge website set up for Tuchman: “At this time, we are still awaiting a confirmed diagnosis to be able to know a timeline, next steps, possibility of transport back to Atlanta, prognosis, etc. The good news is if the Bickerstaff is confirmed, there is a solid treatment and recovery path, so we are hopeful there will be answers soon.”
The family has asked that no one visit her at this time, but friends and colleagues are welcome to post on the CaringBridge site and family members will read the comments to Tuchman each day. Visit caringbridge.com and search for Holly Tuchman to post a comment and/or keep up with her progress.
AT wishes her a speedy recovery and that she will come home soon.
AT RAISES A PINT to Britain for declaring its independence from the European Union’s unelected central planners in Brussels. As the old song goes, “There’ll always be an England/And England shall be free/If England means as much to you/As England means to me.”