The people of Cobb County, Ga., have a budget conundrum on their hands, thanks to craven former county chairman Tim Lee’s insistence on spending almost $400 million in public money for a stadium without giving the public a chance to vote on it. Despite a record-high tax digest, the county is $30 to 55 million in the hole after unlocking a $21 million rainy day fund to fill out the 2018 budget. (Tax cuts passed by Lee have also contributed to the shortfall.) The parks budget has already been beset by issues; non-profits have seen their funding dry up. The latest public institution on the chopping block is the library system, only months after Cobb County unveiled a fancy $10 million new library.
Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as many as eight libraries face being closed or consolidated in an effort to save $2.6 million per year starting in 2019. Libraries Director Helen Poyer was told by the county’s budget committee to find a way to cut the money, which would be possible if six libraries were closed, two were consolidated and all part-time positions were eliminated. The 2019 budget will be approved in July.
“Any closing of libraries ... has an impact on the community,” Poyer wrote in a draft document obtained under the Open Records Act. “Consequently, the closing of any valuable and essential service such as libraries when needed by the young, older adult, disabled, or disadvantaged has a negative impact on the quality of life throughout the County.”
This is what happens when you blow hundreds of millions on a big dumb stadium in the least democratic way possible.