Families angered over plan to shut down Cobb parks, sports facilities

- From little league players to parents and coaches, hundreds of families are crying foul over a worst-case-scenario budget plan to shut down 12 Cobb County parks, sports facilities and other programs, in light of a $30 million dollar budget shortfall for the county and its government. 

"What are these young girls going to be able to do-- and young boys that play baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, all these sports here? " said one concerned parent whose daughter plays in a softball league at Lost Mountain Park, one of the parks set for a full closure, where hundreds of parents bring their kids for practice. 

"We've got about 750 [players] in our program. We don't have another place to go right now," said John Klontz of the West Cobb Girls Softball program, which plans to have hundreds of players and their parents come out in full force at upcoming town meetings.

To save $3.3 million, the county has proposed shuttering the following parks and facilities: 

"Nothing has been defined- nothing has been decided. But here are some options if we have to cut," said William Tanks, the Public Services Agency director, who said officials have been swamped with calls and complaints from concerned parents, worried they could lose their local playgrounds and practice facilities. 
The proposal comes as other county agencies have been tasked with finding and proposing similar cuts to the Board of Commissioners to address the 2019 budget shortfall. Officials said the lack of revenue comes from a decrease of the millage rate with a population increase of 300,000 people in Cobb County, with 52 percent of residences  having a homestead exemption. 
On June 12, the Cobb Board of Commissioners will meet with county officials to finalize the proposed budget and possible cuts. 
Some county officials have proposed increasing the millage rate to offset any cuts and restore already-cut services. 
"I could close every library, every senior center, probably half the parks, and I probably wouldn't get to $30 million. What is the price for a five star county?" said Chairman Mike Boyce,  on an interview that aired on Cobb County public television, who has proposed an increase from 1.1 to 1.9 to fund the shortfall. 
Town hall meetings are set for the following dates: 
  • June 18, East Cobb Senior Center, 7 p.m. 
  • June 19, North Cobb Senior Center, 7 p.m.
  • June 20, Senior Wellness Center, 7 p.m.
  • June 25, Freeman Poole Senior Center, 7 p.m. 
  • June 27, West Cobb Senior Center, 7 p.m.
  • June 29, South Cobb Community Center, 7 p.m. 
  • July 9, Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center, 7 p.m. 

The public hearings will be held July 10 at 9 a.m., July 17 at 6:30 p.m., and 25th at 7 p.m. at the Board of Commissioners meeting room on the second floor of 100 Cherokee Street in Marietta. 

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