I attended the town hall meeting held my State Legislature Rich Golick on January 25th and I was given some interesting information. He brought along two other county officials to assist him in the endeavor. He was there with Cobb County District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott and Cobb County School Board Member Tim Stultz.
State House Representative Golick opened with an overview of the state of Georgia’s economic state. He made it quite clear that Georgia is in a great financial state. It has an AAA credit rating which makes it one of only a very few states that can say that, maybe eight. He also stated that Cobb County also was in the same shape and it also was one of very few counties with that going for them. The main reason Georgia is so solvent is because it has a Balance Budget Amendment written within its state constitution. That makes it almost impossible for a state to become insolvent because when the state is required to balance its budget. It is unfortunate that our federal government does not understand this.
Mr. Golick also stated that Georgia is staying solvent all the while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates among all the states. Georgia is also carrying a half a billion dollar “rainy day” fund but he did say that fund should be one billion, not half a billion. He made it quite plain that Georgia is not in any financial struggle.
School Board Member Stultz talked about the plans being put in place for the schools in the county. He said that the test scores were all increasing. He mentioned several schools in the county that have been given national recognition for excellence and talked about how some were in need of some improvements. He informed the crowd of the School Board’s plan to start what they call “Career Academies”. These academies will educate students for a career instead of priming them for college or technical schools.
The speaker who had the most to discuss was the County Commissioner Bob Ott. He had a lot to talk about because of concerns about the Braves Stadium. He informed the crowd (about fifteen people) that there was a plan in play to improve traffic conditions, prior to the Braves announcement. He stated that there will of course be new improvements added to the already planned changes. Some of the changes already coming are: adding two new reversible toll lanes to I-75, turning the intersect of US41 and I-285 into round-about, converting the Windy Hill and I-75 ramps into the same configuration as what was done at Ashford Dunwoody Rd. and I-285 but on a much bigger scale, widening I-285 in the area, improving the Atlanta Road and I-285 intersection which will include removing the Pilot gas station that is located inside the perimeter, and the bridge for Oaklane will be removed.
He clarified the parking plans which included 6000 new spaces under the new stadium and some 10,000 other parking spaces in close proximity to the stadium. There will also be trams available to move people throughout the new development. The stadium alone will take up 15 acres of the development and the remaining part of the 82 acres will be for commercial development. That part of the development will be owned and maintained by the Braves Organization, it will used to complement the stadium by installing businesses for the fans to go to and from, before and after the game. Those businesses will operate as normal businesses, not like the stadium which only operates when the Braves are playing home games or when the stadium is being used for some other event.
Mr. Ott also had to answer questions about how the stadium was going to affect the county taxes. It was very interesting how the county commissioners have played with the numbers so that they can say that most county residents will not have a property tax increase. However if they live within the “New Cumberland Special Service District” that can’t be said.
I will discuss this new district in a moment but first I want to explain their creative taxing. It is true that the taxes for most property owners will not increase, except for those within the new district. That is because there is a county held bond that is about to be paid off which is being paid by a 0.33% millage rate within our present tax rates. The commissioners are going to add a 0.33% millage rate to the tax rate to pay for the county’s part of the stadium bill, just as the bond is paid off, effectively keeping the millage rate exactly the same. They will be making us pay more taxes without increasing our taxes and that is very creative.
However there will be some new taxes added in the county. There will be a 3% tax added to all rental cars transactions within the county. There will be a $3 per night, tax added to all hotel room transactions within the New Cumberland Special Service District. Also there will be an increase of 3 mils to the tax rate on those within the New Cumberland Special Service District.
The New Cumberland Special Service District is virtually the same area as the old Cumberland Community Improvement District which is an area that includes some 5.5 square miles. The Cumberland Community Improvement District has the authority to increase the tax millage up to 5 mils for the property within their jurisdiction but no more than 5 mils at a time. The Cumberland CID had met and voted to increase the taxes within their area by 5 mils prior to the county increasing their rate by 3 mils. That means the county’s tax increase of 3 mils for the CID tax payers is on top of the 5 mils that the CID voted to add to the taxes within their district jurisdiction. Therefore their millage rate will be increase by 8 mils total.
The actual land area within the CID that we are talking about is composed of unincorporated land as far north as Terrell Mill Road, as far south as Atlanta Road, as far west as Cobb Parkway and as far east as the Chattahoochee River at I-285. It is a very convoluted assembly of properties which is centered pretty much, around the Cumberland Mall area.
The meeting discussed several other minor issues and concerns. There were many issues that were planned to be addresses but weren’t addressed because the meeting ran way over the set time limit, so it was concluded with just these issues being addressed.
Over all I feel it was a very successful meeting and it allowed the public a chance to talk directly with three local elected government officials. Mr. Golick did a great job of answering questions but as a politician he did spend a lot of time explaining things and talking as most politicians do. I have to give him credit because he did an excellent job of addressing the concerns brought up and explaining some issues that he addressed on his own. Mr. Ott also did an excellent job of answering questions and he didn’t just answer the questions and leave it at that. He spent a large amount of time explaining what they did, why they did it and what it means to us. Mr. Stultz did a good job of answering questions but it was apparent that he was inexperienced in public speaking which is understandable considering of his age. But over all they all did a great job.
Thank you, Mr. Golick for taking the time out of your busy schedule to address our questions and to meet with us.
This article was written by Bertrum J Meisner Jr. I am not a professional writer. I am just a common every day laborer like most of you. I write from my heart, logic and life experiences. I am a devout Constitutional conservative and Christian. My only degree is in life experiences, which comes from a lifetime of learning from life. I derived my education from being part of this great nation and that has given me more of an education than I could ever get from any text book. I love this country and everything it is supposed to stand for. I write to bring it back to its roots and to help stop the destruction that is coming to this country both morally and physically.
Bertrum James Meisner Jr.
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