Cobb County Government

Sales tax funds help maintain safety

Public Safety receives only a portion of the 2011 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, but the impact is a large one for Cobb County residents.alt

A total of $13 million has been set aside for public safety improvements out of the projected collections for the current SPLOST. The money will be used for such needs as new engines and trucks for Fire and Emergency Services.

Cobb County Public Safety Director Jack Forsythe said SPLOST funds are important to the health and welfare of the community.

"The SPLOST allowed public safety personnel the capability to maintain critical life saving equipment and fire apparatus," Forsythe said. "Or replace equipment when the repair and maintenance costs were greater than replacement costs or just not feasible due to age, functionality and outdated technology."

Fire and Emergency Services Facilities Superintendant Mark Reida said the equipment purchased through SPLOST has helped the department maintain its level of service to the public. For instance, if the program did not exist, officials would not be able to replace three engines every year and thereby rotate out the older models.

"We would be running older equipment that would break down more," Reida said.

A total of 41 percent of the public safety projects planned under the 2011 SPLOST are complete with an equal number that have not started. Another 11 percent are underway with 7 percent in a design phase.
Planned emergency equipment purchases include $561,000 for manual defibrillators, $360,000 for extrication equipment and $420,000 for thermal imaging cameras.

The new equipment list has also included new vehicles, including engines and equipment trucks, at various fire stations in the county.

For instance, Fire and Emergency Services staff recently acquired a new ladder truck for Fire Station 22 on Austell Road and a new ladder truck for Fire Station 4 on Cumberland Parkway. Each has a 100-foot aerial platform, 300 gallon tank and 1,000 pound platform capacity.

"It’s a definite need," Reida said of the sale tax program. "Without it, we’d be hurting on front line apparatus."

It takes six to eight months to build a ladder truck once it’s ordered, he saidalt.

Other projects are aimed at maintaining the facilities themselves, such as $252,400 for paving at four fire stations, $69,000 for roof repairs at four others and $40,000 for new sprinkler systems at two stations. The roof repairs have already been completed.

Another $185,000 will pay for 37 replacement rollup doors at various fire stations. The work will be very visible to the public as they drive past the stations, Reida said.

"We have 99 doors in our department," he said. "We’re replacing a little over a third of them."

Funds will also assist the police department by purchasing new rifle systems and 911 Communications through operator console upgrades for the cities and a new radio signal repeater for the jail.