Cobb to borrow $376 million for SunTrust Park

Cobb County will borrow $376 million for construction of SunTrust Park and make annual payments of $22.4 million on that debt — about $1.6 million less than originally anticipated by county leadership.

The county opened bids on the bond issuance Tuesday, and will close on the debt Sept. 9, Cobb finance director Jim Pehrson said.

County taxpayers are providing $368 million toward stadium construction. But the county has to borrow more than that to cover financing costs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that the county might borrow as much as $386 million.

The amount actually being borrowed is lower because of the lengthy appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court of the legality of the county’s contribution. That time lapse saved the county money because now it does not need to borrow money to pay capitalized interest on the debt.

“The SunTrust bond issuance is a major benchmark on the road to … opening in April 2017,” County Manager David Hankerson said in a prepared statement.

Pehrson said the county will pay a 4.4-percent interest rate. The lower debt payments mean the county will raise the county-wide property tax rates by .23 mills, rather than the anticipated .33 mills.

That millage rate increase is controversial because voters approved the .33 mill increase so the county could buy parkland. But voters had no say in the tax increase for the stadium.

A portion of the county’s debt payments will be covered by $6.1 million in annual rent payments from the Braves.