It is amazing that Cobb leaders are rushing to vote on the Braves financing deal by Nov. 26, the deal just having been made public on Nov. 11, and an abbreviated outline of the financings just released on Nov. 14. Something with as much potential impact on Cobb County should not be done in such a hurry. Cobb taxpayers should be allowed to vote on whether we want the county to spend $300 million of our tax money to subsidize what one has to assume is a wealthy sports franchise.
For openers, we should wonder about a couple of things the Braves cited as rationales for the move.
They said Turner Field did not have good access to major roadways. What? You can walk from Turner Field to access ramps for I-75/85 and I-20. Somewhere down the road, the Braves could use that same reasoning to give Cobb County the shaft.
We read the Braves have an option to buy the 60 acres from a private landowner. If the Braves can afford to buy it, let them do it. But if ownership is then transferred to the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, that little sleight-of-hand will take the property off the tax digest, so that’s one more cost (loss of tax revenue) to Cobb taxpayers.
Right now, the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority owns the Cobb Galleria Centre and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. That real estate is exempt from property taxes if you check the tax assessment records. A check of the online tax assessor records also shows an appraised value of over $5.5 million for personal property between the Cobb Energy Centre and the Cobb Galleria Centre on which it appears no tax is being collected.
One very troubling phrase in the financing details is that Cobb will finance $8.6 million of its annual subsidy to the Braves by a “reallocation of existing revenues.” If the county has this much money to transfer to the Braves every year, I’d rather they reduce our property taxes by a commensurate amount. There needs to be a lot of explanation on this annual $8.7 million “reallocation of existing revenue.”
Finally, there is some rumbling that if we get the Braves, MARTA will not be far behind. The last thing we want is for Cobb residents to have to pay the extra MARTA sales tax and for Cobb County to be on the hook to underwrite MARTA’s probable future needs due to its mismanagement.
Paul Chellis Marietta