As details are starting to materialize after yesterday’s surprise announcement that the Braves plan to move to Cobb County (and almost my backyard) for the 2017 season, there are still many more questions than answers. We’ll start to try to break these down into specific posts for each of the many issues that this relocation will face (and/or create).
The $450 Million dollar question – an amount that is also still in question – is how will Cobb produce the amount of public money that is at this point still rumored, but not confirmed, as the public contribution. Dave Pendered of the Saporta Report gives us a primer on how it may work:
The Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority (Cobb-Marietta) has the sole power to set the hotel tax rate, according to state law. The Braves began talks with the coliseum authority in July, according to espn.com.
The coliseum authority now operates three destinations in the Cumberland area near the site of the planned Braves ballpark – Cobb Galleria Centre, Galleria Specialty Shops, and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
In 2010, the hotel tax generated in excess of $9 million. That figure is based on a report in the Marietta Daily Journal that an 8 percent payment from the authority to the Cobb County Convention & Visitors Bureau would amount to $8.9 million.
I went online today to sample hotel reservations in various Cobb hotels, and it does appear that the local hotel tax is set at 8%. Note that this is on top of the local sales tax of 6% which is also levied. Thus, we currently burden our visitors with a 14% charge to pay for the services they receive during their stay.
More importantly, according to Pendered’s article, the maximum amount of the tax under state law is 8%. For those looking to a quick increase, you’ll need to look to the Georgia legislature. Now look back at that word quick….Anyway,
$9 million/year won’t service the debt on $450M. There are other possibilities such as Tax Allocation Districts, CID funds, even local SPLOST dollars. But those are speculation. While questions are needed and advised, rampant speculation isn’t necessarily helpful. But neither are secrets now that the deal has been announced.
In short, we still have more questions than answers on how Cobb County taxpayers will be affected. Only when we have these answers can we attempt any sort of credible Cost/Benefit analysis and discussion.