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Cobb BOC tables ‘Rain Tax’ vote after more than four hours of citizen complaints in opposition


The Cobb County Board of Commissioners was all set to vote on the stormwater utility fee at their Tuesday night meeting. Dubbed a tax by Cobb citizens, they showed up in record numbers to voice their opposition to what many say is an ongoing assault by their government as it relates to taxes. The BOC faced significant opposition to their stormwater proposal, as citizens expressed frustration and concern over what they saw as excessive taxation and lack of clarity on the proposal’s details.

Chair Lisa Cupid’s efforts to push through the fee faced resistance from both citizens and some commissioners. After hours of citizens’ complaints against the proposal, citizens remaining in the room applauded when commissioners voted 5-0 to table the proposal. The vote came nearly five hours after the start of the meeting and was taken after midnight. Citizens were happy, but Cupid clearly was not.  

Cupid has led the efforts to create a dedicated stormwater utility tax based on the amount of impervious surfaces at homes and businesses instead of water usage. Many in the room felt that Cupid was not going to end the meeting until the rest of the BOC surrendered to her demands to pass the bill. However, after commissioners listened to hour after hour of strong opposition during the public hearing on the proposal, it was clear to any member leaning towards passage that doing so was not a good idea. Many citizens in attendance voiced their opposition to Cupid’s leadership among themselves and out loud as the commentary grew louder and louder. Some labeled Cupid “Triple Tax Cupid” as they expressed dissatisfaction with her fiscal decisions for the county. In exchange, Cupid took a break to summoned more police to the room, including Cobb Public Safety Director Michael Register, who was stationed at the back of the room, with several police officers looking for trouble. There was none.

The opposition to the proposal was not limited to citizens; the Cobb Chamber of Commerce also expressed concerns about the fairness of the fee, particularly for commercial property owners.

Commissioners Keli Gambrill and JoAnn Burrell added their voices as they raised questions and expressed concerns about the proposal during the meeting, while Commissioner Jerica Richardson signaled her opposition, indicating a shift away from support for Cupid’s agenda. This change in dynamics, coupled with the inability of county staff to provide satisfactory answers to citizens’ questions, led to the decision to postpone the vote.

When asked about questions that were raised by citizens, the County staff expressed uncertainty, suggesting that they could provide the responses to questions after the commissioners voted to pass the proposal. This did not sit well with Gambrill and Burrell. The two peppered the staff with questions as they signaled their concerns for the proposal. From the comments and questions from Richardson, it was clear that she was not going to be a yes vote for Cupid.

Cupid quickly realized that she no longer had the three votes she had come accustomed to relying on to push her agenda, which many have dubbed an anti-citizen agenda in Cobb. Many citizens applauded Richardson for listening to their concerns and showing independence from Cupid. Cobb County Water Director Judy Jones, who had been pushing for the proposal’s passage, expressed disappointment in the board’s decision to postpone.

Commissioners said they plan to hold more meetings on the topic with community stakeholders and give the public more information before bringing it back for a potential vote in August. This will give county staff time to finalize a manual that will give credits on the fee for engaging in various flood mitigation efforts, which was one of the questions raised by both citizens and BOC members. The vote not to go forward also gives the county staff time to show property owners exactly what their fee calculation would be. Cobb County is responsible for maintaining its stormwater system to help mitigate flooding but has had difficulty in coming up with a stormwater fee plan. 

The opposition to Cupid and some members of the Board during the meeting was palpable, with citizens expressing their discontent and even issuing threats of electoral accountability as they referenced May 21, the upcoming primary election day. Many stated emphatically that Cupid and Commissioner Sheffield, who are both seeking reelection, will be voted out of office.

Yashica Marshall, is running in the District 4 race against Sheffield. Shelia Edwards is running against Cupid for Cobb Chair. Both spoke during the meeting as homeowners and taxpayers, expressing their opposition to the proposal with a demand that Cupid refrain from putting any more taxes on the backs of citizens that are still reeling from the recession.

Highlighting poor leadership and the lack of fiscal responsibility of some members of the board, Marshall said, “Your fiscal irresponsibility has made the majority of you a liability, and we the people, we the Cobb residents, are not your insurance policy.” 

Edwards echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing that the issue transcends party lines or demographic considerations, framing it as a matter of common sense. Said Edwards, “I want to be clear about something: This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. It is not a Black issue or a white issue. It is not a male issue or a female issue. It is a common sense issue.” Edwards took direct aim at Cupid’s previous emphasis on her status as the first Black female in Cobb government leadership, suggesting that this aspect of her identity should not overshadow the substantive concerns raised by the stormwater proposal she was pushing, nor other negative decisions Cupid has made since she became chair.

Said Edwards, “Cupid will have to abandon those topics and run on her record in Cobb County, which is a negative record. Citizens of Cobb will be Cupid’s judge as it relates to the broader topics that impacts their families and their quality of life.”

Edwards’ critique of Cupid’s leadership style and lack of priorities, transparency, and fiscal responsibility are aligned with what many citizens in Cobb County are saying, as evidenced by comments during the stormwater proposal meeting.

These sentiments highlight a broader discontent within the community that extends beyond the specific issue of the stormwater fee. Citizens are increasingly voicing concerns about the effectiveness and accountability of their elected officials, particularly Cupid and some members of the Board of Commissioners.


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