Cobb County Government
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Improvements ahead of schedule

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Penny by penny, the 2011 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax has already brought numerous improvements to Cobb County transportation.

The program already started work on 83 out of 170 transportation projects, marking 44 percent of the total planned and putting it well ahead of schedule, Cobb County DOT Deputy Director Dan McDuff said.

Bids from contractors are coming in lower than expected because of the diminished economy, he said.

"As a result of the current economic conditions, we are receiving unprecedented contractor bids," McDuff said. "We are pushing out as many projects as we can now."

The county is also ahead of schedule in the number of projects that have started engineering work. These projects include the Collins Road Bridge over Little Allatoona Creek, the New Chastain Bridge over Noonday Creek and the Old Stilesboro Bridge over Little Noonday Creek.

Cobb County has completed 15 construction projects although it had only planned to have five done by this time.

These finished projects include the Holly Springs Road at Davis Road roundabout, which was completed in August and marked the first significant design-build project at Cobb DOT.

This innovative approach, in which the total bid price includes both the design and construction of the project, resulted in significant savings, McDuff said.

The county has completed improvements on Woodland Brook Drive, Paper Mill Road at Sope Creek Elementary School, Mark Avenue Bridge replacement and four drainage projects.

Construction recently started on the $10 million project to improve Shallowford Road, which will include widening the thoroughfare, adding turn lanes and adding sidewalks.

For the first three quarters, figures show the program exceeded projected revenues by more than $7.8 million. The 2011 SPLOST program has raised more than $86.5 million through September.

"While one-third of these funds come from visitors to the county, SPLOST continues to help improve our entire community," Chairman Tim Lee said. "We will strive to keep the good news and the accomplishments coming."

Commission lowers millage rate

Cobb Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on a plan to reduce property taxes recently. This vote was the first step in a five-year effort to reduce the general fund portion of property taxes back to pre-recession levels.

The millage rate will be reduced from 7.72 to 7.52 mills. Current estimates call for a .20 decrease each year during the next four years and a .10 decrease in the fifth year. Cobb has been able to keep expenses as low as possible, while also providing needed services to the public.

Overall, expenses are down by $12.5 million across several areas: $4.3 million in unfilled vacancies and reductions in part-time hours, $2.9 million in reduced transit and solid waste subsidies, $2.9 million in operational, capital and debt savings and $2.4 million in reduced health care expenditures.

Going forward, $10.1 million of surplus funds will be used to start the process of systematically lowering the county’s millage rate, pay off outstanding debt and set aside $2.6 million as a buffer during these tough economic times.

Safety Village benefits from private donations

altThe UPS foundation donated $21,000 to the Cobb County Safety Village this past week. The money will be used to help improve bicycle and pedestrian safety education programs. The Safety Village, which opened in 2009, is a child-size representation of Cobb, complete with scaled-down models of operative buildings with signage, streets, traffic lights and homes. The site has four distinct areas, each presenting the opportunity to teach children how to react when faced with fire, crime and disaster emergencies, as well as drug and alcohol awareness and pedestrian safety. For more information on the village or donating to help it continue its work, visit cobbcounty.org/safetyvillage. The village itself is located on Al Bishop Drive, Marietta, near Jim R. Miller Park. Numerous businesses and organizations have sponsored programs at the facility, thereby helping teach the youth of the community about safety. The UPS Foundation was established in 1951 by UPS founder Jim Casey and more than 25 percent of its total dollars go to local organizations where UPS workers volunteer their time.

Helping those who need

 altOne of the greatest joys of the holiday season is giving to those in need and helping brighten others’ lives. In the spirit of giving, Cobb Department of Transportation is sponsoring the 2012 Cobb Christmas Stuff-A-Bus Dec. 3-12.

Residents are encouraged to help stuff a bus with donations of money, new toys and gifts, non-perishable food items and gift certificates. The CCT bus will make various stops around the county to collect donations, including as several WellStar locations, Southern Polytechnic State University and the Marietta Square. The donations will be distributed to thousands of local low-income families.

Cobb Christmas is a non-profit organization run completely by volunteers. Families are screened and meet eligibility requirements. For the complete list of stops, visit cobbcounty.org/cct. For more information, visit cobbchristmas.net.