Crony Capitalism Goes Local with Marietta Slush Fund - By Lance Lamberton
AFP NOTE: The Franklin Road Bond Referendum for the City of Marietta in Cobb County is being touted as an urban redevelopment initiative that will revitalize the city through the purchase and demolition of apartment complexes along Franklin Road. Nothing could be further from the truth and AFP Georgia opposes the Bond Referendum. In reality, it amounts to crony capitalism and the creation of a de facto slush fund for the city with wide deference into how the money is actually used.
It will cost you a lot in taxes
The Bond Referendum placed on the November 5th ballot will allow the City to borrow $68 million which Marietta taxpayers will have to pay back plus interest over 20 years. It will double the millage rate from 2 to 4 mills resulting in a tax increase of $3200 for a $200,000 home, or $9600 for a $600,000 home. Supporters call this an “investment” yet they are “investing” your money for their benefit. What will your return on that investment be? Absolutely nothing! Its real purpose is to bail out troubled property owners in the Franklin Road area. It will hurt the City’s economy by taking millions out of your pockets to spend on things you really need, like groceries, car repairs, or utilities.
The bond is an open check for special interests
A sensible and transparent bond proposal would identify the exact costs and benefits from spending public funds. But with this proposal we do not know how much property will be purchased by the City, or at what price. Nor do we know who will purchase it from the City and for what purpose. If history is any guide, the land will sit idle for years, waiting for prospective buyers who will eventually purchase it for pennies on the dollar. And while it sits waiting for buyers, taxpayers will be saddled with interest payments on money loaned to the City.
Crony Capitalists are the Beneficiaries
This kind of deal gives true economic freedom a bad name by using local government to play kingmaker in the private sector business community. With $68 million at stake, there is no doubt that powerful, well-connected business interests will reap a windfall, compliments of the taxpayer. Even if it would expand the tax base by attracting new businesses to the area, this would not result in any tax relief. They are not interested in reducing taxes (as is obvious by putting the Bond on the ballot in the first place) but rather in having more money to spend on their pet projects.
The real beneficiaries and driving force behind the Bond are property owners who are looking to the taxpayer to buy out properties in and around Franklin Road at above market rates.
Lance Lamberton is the President of the Cobb Taxpayers Association. The Cobb Taxpayers Association has been fighting to reduce taxes and government spending on the local, county and state level since 2005. For more information, go to: www.cobbtaxpayer.com