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Tea party group to mobilize against Braves stadium

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CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY | November 19, 2013 06:38 AM EST | AP


ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Tea Party is gearing up to oppose the new Atlanta Braves stadium being planned in Cobb County, arguing the $672 million project is a bad deal for taxpayers.

The statewide group will be reaching out to county voters through emails and automated calls detailing its opposition and urging them to contact the county commission ahead of a key vote Nov. 26, said Debbie Dooley, co-chair of the Atlanta Tea Party. The group is also organizing an event for early next week, looking to call attention to the financing details of the project that calls for public funds to be used to cover 45 percent of costs.

"This is another example of the good ol' boys getting rich and the taxpayers getting the shaft," Dooley said in an interview. "They are going to have to raise property taxes."

Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has called the project an "excellent deal," with the Braves assuming 55 percent of costs and no plan to raise taxes on residents. According to details of the 30-year-deal released by the county last week, the public's share of the annual bond payments would come from reallocating $9.6 million in existing property tax revenue and collecting $8.3 million in new taxes on business and tourism.

A county spokesman did not respond to an email requesting a response to the tea party group's opposition.

Dooley said the "devil is in the details" and expects local taxpayers will still end up bearing significant costs. Missing from the county plan were details on how it will pay for its portion of annual capital maintenance costs.

Anthony-Scott Hobbs, a tea party activist in Cobb County, said it's unfair that an existing tax on property owners set to expire in three years will instead continue as a funding source for the stadium.

"It's a great economic development opportunity as long as you do it right," Hobbs said. "We were promised that property taxes would go down to pre-2010 levels and they haven't."

Meanwhile, Brionte McCorkle with the state chapter of the Sierra Club said the group is concerned because the new site lacks adequate public transit, which will affect not only ticketholders but also stadium employees who may need affordable transportation.

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Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Christina.