Presiding over his first work session as county chairman, Mike Boyce on Wednesday announced the creation of a joint task force for the Braves stadium with the aim of making the ballpark a success.
Boyce warned that the county could not afford any missteps.
“We’re all in this ship together,” Boyce said. “We’re not going to fail on opening day.”
The task force will be an advisory body under the auspices of District Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the Cumberland area. Ott put forward a list of 28 names of private individuals, public officials and employees of the county, as well as business owners.
Boyce and Ott said the committee was formed to keep the public informed and to make sure all deadlines are met in time for first pitch.
“I’m not saying there was a breakdown in communication,” Boyce said of his reasons for forming the body. “We didn’t have a wide enough spread … in our conversation.”
Commissioner Bob Ott said he would also reach out to the city of Sandy Springs and Braves representatives to participate in the committee.
Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Lisa Cupid expressed reservations that the committee’s responsibilities and authority could overlap with those of staff and cause confusion. They also voiced concern over the mixing of former and current county staff on the committee.
In addition, Commissioner Bob Weatherford questioned the legal status of the committee, but offered support for its mission.
Boyce said he would meet with the county attorney before the committee’s first meeting on Friday to confirm the county was “crossing its t’s and dotting its i’s.”
Ott acknowledged the unusual nature of the committee.
“No, we haven’t done it before, but we also haven’t built a stadium before,” Ott said.
Boyce also reiterated his commitment to buying at least $40 million in greenspace, one of his major campaign promises.
A majority of the board appeared to agree to vote Tuesday on whether to issue $24.7 million in park bonds. The proposed action includes increasing the millage rate by .13 mills, or $10.49 per year on a house valued at $200,000.
The $24.7 million represents the remaining sum the county can legally collect based on a $40 million park bond referendum that passed in 2008, but was shelved due to the recession.
Boyce pledged to make up the difference, but said he wanted to “send a message” to voters by issuing what bonds could be issued as soon as possible.
The board rejected a similar proposal, 3-2, in November, with then-Chairman Tim Lee and commissioners Ott and Cupid opposing.
Cupid said she is ready to support issuing park bonds, but Ott is opposed. He suggested the board identify the properties the county should buy first, and then find a way to fund the cost.
Separately, the board delayed a decision on county employee salaries to February.
“We’re going to have to hustle here,” said Boyce. “We need to send a signal to the staff that we’re going to do this.”
Braves stadium advisory task force: