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Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Dan Klepal; Staff

A grass-roots organization opposed to Cobb County's $300 million investment in a new Atlanta Braves stadium will hold a town hall meeting tonight, at which the group is expected to discuss the taxes associated with stadium financing, potential lawsuits and other aspects, such as additional costs for public safety and transportation related to the stadium.

It's the second in a series of town hall meetings hosted by Citizens for Governmental Transparency, a conglomeration of 10 different community organizations that represent a cross section of political interests.

Member Sharon Hill said the real purpose of the meeting is to give residents an opportunity to express themselves "since the Cobb (commissioners have) not provided this opportunity, and we have been contacted by many in the community ... who feel this whole process has been unnecessarily rushed and secretive, with a continued lack of transparency, accountability and fiduciary responsibility."

Cobb spokesman Robert Quigley said that commissioners have listened to the public. Each district commissioner held a town hall meeting before the board approved a preliminary agreement with the Braves on Nov. 26, and there is time for public comment before each commission meeting, he said.

"We're slated to have a communitywide Braves town hall meeting this fall to update the public and answer their questions," Quigley said. "It will be televised and stream online, as well."

The financing agreement calls for county taxpayers to spend $17.9 million annually for 30 years to pay for Cobb's $300 million commitment toward ballpark construction. That annual payment will cover principal and interest on the public portion of the financing. Additionally, the county will spend $1.2 million annually for 30 years of capital maintenance.

The county's former public safety director has said the county will also need to spend millions more in public safety upgrades, including more officers and vehicles, a new fire station, enhanced communications equipment and a police precinct near the stadium.

"Really, these (Citizens for Governmental Transparency) meetings are to give people the opportunity to vent, if they want to, and hopefully enlist them for active support in their community," said member Rich Pellegrino.

The meeting, at Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Marietta, starts at 7 p.m.


March 18, 2014




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