Just the Facts: A Tax by Any Other Name

JTF When is a Fee a Tax?

Dear parents and taxpayers of Cobb County, during today’s time together, “Just the Facts” sheds light on an issue that impacts every property owner, and apparently school, in the county. 

Before we dive in, a word to those who regularly attack one of the best school systems in the country and tell this grandfather to “stay in my lane,” if anything takes one dollar from your children’s education, it is my lane. 

It’s no secret that some of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners recently proposed a stormwater “fee,” which is a creative way to describe what amounts to a rainfall tax. 

To recap recent events, the majority of the Commissioners’ latest “fee” proposal would charge property owners every month based on the amount of paved surface area on their property. Your driveways and your child’s school have a lot of paved property, as I recall. 

In the past, all property owners paid a stormwater fee based on the amount of water they consumed. The Commissioners who proposed this “fee” now say they need to add a “fee” since water usage is not connected to stormwater impact. If you’re not following the logic, you’re not the only one trying to comprehend this tomfoolery. 

The concept of taxpayers and schools paying a “fee” based on the amount of rain that falls on their property is “interesting,” to say the least. Well, that’s a polite phrase for it, anyway. Moms, dads, business owners, and principals can’t control the weather, but we’re being asked to foot the bill for nature’s whims. This rainfall “fee,” if passed, will add to the monthly bills of hardworking parents and, again, apparently, schools across our county. 

For our families who already live on a tight budget, this additional “fee” on their already strained finances is grossly unfair. I’ve raised the impact this fee would have on our schools a number of times with district leaders. Unfortunately, our staff does not have enough information from the Commissioners to know how much money would be taken from classrooms, but they know it would mean fewer dollars for teachers and students. We also know our schools could have been made legally exempt, but they weren’t. 

After consulting with our legal team, we believe this bizarre ‘stormwater fee’ will be imposed upon schools, as well as the thousands of acres on which your schools are built. 

The reality is that every school dollar taken for stormwater management is a dollar taken away from our children’s futures. As your Cobb Schools Board Chair, I stand in staunch opposition to additional “fees” on our schools and on the taxpayer. Our students and teachers deserve better than to have their learning compromised by yet another threat to dollars that belong in the classroom. I know I speak for the majority of the Board when I point out that the latest proposal being brought forward by Cobb Commission Chair Lisa Cupid is fraught with problems for our schools and our parents. 

I’m not telling you how to vote; I’m telling you what is and isn’t good for our schools and Cobb’s children. 

As Cobb County has always fought for a better life for the next generation, I urge every resident of Cobb County to join me in supporting children, education, and wise use of your dollars, even when a tax is called a “fee.” To those who will support this ill-conceived “fee” on our schools and the entire county, it is worth repeating: protecting our children’s future is my, and the majority of the Board’s, lane. 


Board Chair Randy Scamihorn