An unlikely alliance of school-board members, Tea Partiers and Democrats are combining to oppose any public funding of a new Atlanta Braves ballpark in Cobb County.
All three have their own reasons to oppose public money for the $672-million Braves ballpark, which will also include a $400-million development adjacent to the facility. This was a deal put together between the Braves and the Republican members of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners. To put the politics into perspective: Georgia is a conservative state, and Cobb County is one of the most conservative counties in a conservative state. For the Republicans to put together this deal is not a popular stance in a conservative county. So its no surprise that the sole vote against the project last week during a Cobb County hearing came from the only Democratic commissioner: if the measure was going to pass anyway, it was smart politics for her to oppose the measure.
And then there’s the local Tea Party, which is going to oppose any large public expenditure that benefits corporate players. From Bloomberg:
Tea Party supporters clogged county telephone lines with calls complaining about at least $368 million in tax-supported bonds Cobb has pledged to back a $672 million new Braves stadium. Opponents last week filed a lawsuit in county court challenging the legality of the funding plan….
“We’re all for capitalism,” Atlanta Tea Party leader Debbie Dooley said. “We’re against crony capitalism like this.”
The school board is opposing one part of the associated development, saying Cobb County has no power to offer tax breaks on bonds to the detriment of the school district. From the Marietta Daily Journal:
That right is “with the school board; therefore, the Development Authority cannot give it away,” the schools attorneys argue. They also argue that none of the parties offering the tax deal “seek to protect the school district or school board’s rights” and validating the bonds would “cut off the school board and school district’s right to collect the taxes due it.”
The motion also claims that Georgia laws governing public bonds does not allow school taxes to be waived. It only names taxes levied by state, county and municipal governments along with political subdivisions and taxing districts…
If developed into a $100 million project, the site would pump more than 15 times that amount annually into county coffers, with $436,400 generated for the county and another $756,000 for Cobb schools, according to estimates provided by the county finance office.
Politically, Democrats and the Tea Party can’t win: they may have public opinion on their side, but the Republican majority in Cobb County government will push the project. The courts may be the most likely source of some relief.
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