Cobb County Government

Board of Commissioners


altFROM THE CHAIRMAN

Tim Lee
Cobb Commission Chairman

This has proved to be a historic year. Cobb County’s financial picture has continued to improve even as we helped secure an array of benefits for both taxpayers and visitors.

We are steadily reducing the millage rate as part of a five year plan to bring taxes to what they were before the recession hit. Even as our population grows, we provide quality services while charging taxpayers less. This year our rate was 10.91 and it is expected to be 10.71 mills in 2014. Our tax digest, after several years of declining numbers, has started to level out and we expect it to improve next year.

Meanwhile, this marks the 17th consecutive year that the nation’s top bond rating agencies each recognized us with their “Triple A” ratings, keeping us in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide. These accomplishments are enhanced by our conservative policies and investments by the business community. Our partnership in the EDGE program demonstrates our commitment to job creation and economic development.

The recent 30-year agreement to help build a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves in the Cumberland area is clearly the biggest example of our progress. By itself, this deal will bring $400 million of investment to Cobb for the creation of a mixed-used entertainment district on the site, thousands of construction jobs and millions in revenues coming to county government and schools.

Our commitment to the best quality of life in Georgia remains unchanged. We understand the importance of benefits such as public greenspace, public libraries and public safety. To this end, we have rigorously provided top-tier services while maintaining budget discipline.

The necessity to provide more with less will pay off in a big way for Cobb County as the community benefits from our improved fortunes. If a rising tide lifts all boats, we can expect Cobb to be riding high in the near future.

 


 
DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS
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Helen Goreham
District One Commissioner

I have been honored to serve as your District One representative on the Cobb County Board of Commissioners for 11 years. It is, therefore, with mixed feelings that I have decided to retire at the end of 2014. The confidence voters placed in me is humbling and I have taken with utmost seriousness the responsibility of this position. My efforts have always been aimed at smart growth in the community, improving essential government services and keeping costs at an absolute minimum. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax has helped us with numerous road projects that alleviated congestion throughout the district. County workers have kept a tight belt on expenses and still provided a quality of life unmatched in metro Atlanta. The return of economic progress in our area has set the stage for a bright future. And I look forward to my own future here as I will remain an active and involved resident of Cobb County. Thank you all for your trust.


 



altCommissioner Bob Ott
District Two Commissioner

It has been another exciting year in District Two. Besides the news of the new stadium and entertainment area for the Braves, the Cumberland area has also seen a significant amount of new development. This includes both businesses and over 1,100 new residential units. In addition, major Department Of Transportation projects were completed or are close to coming on line. In late October, east Cobb celebrated the opening of the new bridge over Sope Creek which was completed on time and under budget. DOT has also been busy working on the Lower Roswell Road project which includes both a multi-use trail and a roundabout at Timber Ridge which should be finished this spring. In 2014 DOT will continue the right-of-way acquisition for the Interstate 285/Atlanta Road interchange project and work will continue on the Windy Hill East and West project along with the diverging diamond interchange. This past year renovations began at Fullers, Sewell and Rhyne Parks. Also, studies are underway to finalize the plans for the restoration of many of the buildings at Hyde Farm. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your commissioner and look forward to a prosperous 2014.


 



Commissioner BirrellJo Ann Birrell
District Three Commissioner

It has been an exciting and successful year in District Three. Our business community experienced phenomenal growth. We have two new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets, the Movie Tavern opened and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta opened a radiology facility. Additional businesses have opened within the Canton Road Redevelopment Corridor including the Wash Barn, HVAC Facility and other retail establishments in the district. The Cobb County Purchasing Department, in partnership with Keep it in Cobb Committee, expanded the "How to do Business with Cobb" from two seminars each previous year to five in 2013, bringing in about 55 local vendors to each event. The final seminar of 2013 was held in conjunction with the Cobb County School District. We broke ground for the $17.8 million Skip Spann Connector project, which is expected to reduce daily traffic on adjacent Chastain Road by as much as 19 percent. In addition, residents received new neighbors. In 2013 alone, we have more than 20 new subdivisions in the District. These are just a few of our many accomplishments. None of this would have been possible without the support of county staff, fellow commissioners and the businesses and residents of Cobb County. I am grateful for the progress we made in 2013 and look forward to 2014 with renewed vigor. I am inspired for what is in store for Cobb County.


 



altLisa Cupid
District Four Commissioner

It has been rewarding to serve as the District Four commissioner this past year, working to improve the area and county processes on behalf of residents. It is important to evaluate the needs of our district, and not just through numbers. To that end, I have sought public input through town hall meetings, discussions with constituents and stressed the importance of agencies engaging our community as part of the decision-making process. I have served as an advocate for a strong strategic plan, boosted support of the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority and modified the future land use map for Austell Road. I have supported and encouraged agency community activities in the district as well as community partnerships. Through these efforts, we have had successes. We attracted a new developer and property management to the Six Flags area. We developed a zoning guide for the district and we are identifying nodes for branding and development. Progress will always take commitment and dedication. Together, we can make it happen.

 

From the County Manager

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David Hankerson
County Manager

As we start a new year, I am proud to reflect on the progress our county has achieved during the past one. More than that, I am proud of those who made it possible – Cobb County employees.

In 2013, the county’s budget came in better than expected, which we can directly attribute to the fiscal discipline of Cobb government employees and our elected officials. Their frugality and drive to do more with less has created a success story on behalf of residents. If it were not for Cobb County employees, taxes would either be higher or services would be cut – probably both.

They seek to encourage each other in excellence. Each year, a committee of county employees selects the top employees based on their outstanding customer service and recognizes them in front of their peers and the county commission.

In 2013, they selected 16 winners, with South Cobb Recreation Center Facilities Manager Leslie Walker being picked as the employee of the year for both his work at the center and the time he spends volunteering to help children in the community.

Cobb County employees’ constant focus on maintaining our infrastructure, controlling expenses and bringing 24-hour services to residents and visitors alike, shows true dedication. Every incremental step they take to support our mission and to serve our community protects the excellent lifestyle available only in Cobb County.

It demonstrates their professionalism. It demonstrates they care.

 

Economy

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The Cobb County Board of Commissioners are reducing the millage rate as part of a five year plan to bring taxes to what they were before the recession. This year our rate was 10.91 and it is expected to be 10.71 mills in 2014.alt

The Board of Commissioners approved a 30-year agreement in November that will help build a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves in Cobb County. At least $372 million of the stadium project will be paid for by the Atlanta Braves, which will also invest an additional $400 million for an entertainment district on the 60-acre site. This will include retail, restaurants and other development projects on the location at the intersection of Interstates 285 and 75. Local costs will draw from various sources including payments by private businesses within a special district around the project, the motel/hotel tax and existing county revenues.

2013 marked the 17th consecutive year that the nation’s top bond rating agencies each recognized Cobb County Government with their “Triple A” ratings, keeping it in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide.

altCobb County, designated a “camera-ready” community by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, has seen its film permit activity increase by approximately 23 percent in 2013. Camera Ready is a designation put in place by the state to offer film and television production companies easier, faster and better access to local resources and information. Significant projects filmed in Cobb County this year included “Dumb and Dumber To,” “Necessary Roughness” and “Million Dollar Armand” as well as televisions shows such as “For Better or Worse” and “Line of Sight.”

In August 2013, Six Flags Over Georgia announced plans to build Hurricane Harbor, a new water park that will feature an 800,000 gallon wave pool, multi-slide tower, a “world’s first” single slide tower with two extreme slide thrills and an interactive children’s play area. This project which will open in May 2014 is the first of multiple attractions that Six Flags will be adding in the coming years as part of a multi-million, multi-year strategy to invest in the county for years to come.

World of Faith Family Worship Cathedral is building an 112,000-square-foot Riverside EpiCenter in Austell. The center will include a two-story youth center, 600-seat auditorium, fitness facility, food court, computer center, six-lane bowling alley and conference and banquet center. The facility, which scheduled to open in late 2014, has a budget of $30.7 million.

altMiMedx a local biotech firm announced it would add new jobs as result of its move to Marietta, while Infosys, an information technology company with an office in Wildwood office park, plans to add about 200 new jobs there in the next fiscal year.

The Purchasing Department expanded the “Keep it in Cobb” program by offering five “How to do Business with Cobb County” business seminars. A seminar was held in each county district with excellent participation by local vendors. Approximately 55 vendors were in attendance at each seminar. Our final seminar for 2013, held in October, was offered in partnership with the Cobb County School District and was well received by the vendor community.

altIn January, the Purchasing Department initiated a bid analysis program to provide a comparison of bid prices and to demonstrate the positive results of competitive bidding. As a result of the cooperative efforts of county staff and the Purchasing Department in promoting competitive bidding practices, more than $2 million in savings was achieved in 2013.

 

Judicial

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Juvenile Court moved to downtown Marietta, making use of renovated courtrooms and offices formerly used by Cobb County Superior Court. This unifies Cobb County court services onto a single campus and improves accessibility for the public.

The Cobb DUI Court, a program of the State Court, marked its fifth anniversary in 2013. Since inception, 137 repeat Driving Under the Influence offenders successfully completed the requirements of this rigorous program, which combines concentrated court supervision, frequent court appearances and drug and alcohol treatment that lasts for a period of at least 12 months. The recidivism rate for the Cobb DUI Court is 3.5 percent, which is well below Georgia’s average recidivism rate for accountability court graduates of 6.7 percent. The Cobb DUI Court currently has 60 active participants, which will save Cobb County approximately $175,900 by providing intensive treatment in lieu of incarceration and will allow productive, rehabilitated individuals to begin and continue contributing to the community.

The Clerk of Superior Court office has transitioned being paper-driven to electronic services. For example, it has changed the submitting of sentencing sheets to the Department of Corrections, allowing for the installation of a system that submits electronically. This has increased productivity and reduced costs substantially. The clerk’s office has installed new computers and printers in all 10 of the courtrooms and is currently in the process of replacing its operating systems in both case management and land records.
 
Board of Commissioners approved the Clerk of Superior Court for its first technology expert, a systems coordinator position within the office. The clerk’s ongoing “Lost Victims” project paid out $2,416,855 in restitution in Fiscal Year 2013 alone.

Significant changes have been implemented in State Court relating to jury trials. The State Court consists of two divisions. Division One handles civil cases and misdemeanor criminal cases. Division Two primarily handles traffic cases. Previously, cases originally assigned to Division Two in which jury demands were filed would be transferred to Division One for jury trial proceedings. Under the new process, those cases which are returnable to Division Two of the State Court will remain in that division for jury trials. DUI cases are now being assigned to all twelve judges of both divisions of the court for disposition, including jury trials. These changes will allow for more expeditious disposition of cases, and cost savings are anticipated.

Cobb County State Court’s Sentence Enforcement Unit has worked closely with the Cobb County Clerk’s Office and Information Services to develop a probation case management system. This system will increase efficiency, accuracy, accountability, customer service responses and will set measurable standards of compliance that can be tracked by supervisors to ensure proper monitoring of probationers. This system will also provide real time reports and statistics that are required to be reported to the Administrative offices of the courts. This system was developed by in-house subject matter experts utilizing existing software, saving Cobb County approximately $40,000 by eliminating the need to purchase additional computer software.

In April, the Magistrate Court launched a new Web application, offering the acceptance of online payments for various citations. Once the citations are received and entered into the database, people are able to pay online any payable ordinance violations as well as eligible bad check citations. The online system is set up to allow them to pay up to 48 hours of their scheduled court date. Payments are received well in advance of the court date which reduces the number of cases to process in court. Online payments minimize travel to the courthouse, traffic within the courthouse, allows people to pay their fines/fees online at their convenience avoiding lines and paying for parking. It is important to note that the Magistrate Court can also accept payment by phone through this new LexisNexis VitalChek online payment solution.

In June, the Warrant Division joined the Sheriff’s Office to publicize the VINE system, which stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday. The Magistrate Court’s role in VINE is to reach the victims who appear in Magistrate Court in which a warrant is issued immediately, as well as those victims who receive warrants from court in warrant application hearings to ensure they have access/knowledge of the system.
 
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PARKS

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Cobb Travel & Tourism and Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs partnered to conduct a research study with the National Association of Sports Commissions to look at the potential for events in the community. Forty of Cobb’s sports leaders from all walks of life, including private sports organizations, hotels and government, were brought together to form the Cobb Sports Alliance. Their objective is to continue to serve the recreational needs of residents, while creating more opportunities through sports to draw visitors to Cobb County. Travel and tourism remains the number one economic driver in the county. The industry has a total economic impact of more than $2.16 billion.

Cobb County is proud to have hosted the 24th Annual Winter Indoor Games of the Special Olympics in 2013. The ceremony was held at the Cobb Civic Center and provides inspiration to families from all over Georgia. Another highlight of this year was the hosting the National Special Olympics Gymnastic Meet for the third year in a row.

More than 2,000 children, ages 6-14, attended PARKS summer camps. Camp locations included Fair Oaks, Fullers, Ron Anderson and Ward Recreation Centers.

Aquatic program participation continued to grow with fee revenues reaching an all time high, thus providing more operational cost recovery. Mountain View Aquatic Center reopened after a $1.3 million SPLOST funded renovation, giving it a major facelift and resolving air quality issues with new state of the art HVAC equipment. Central Aquatic Center received improvements as well, with a SPLOST funded renovation that included painting, resurfacing the pools and upgrading the filtration system with a UV system. West Cobb Aquatic Center closed its doors the last month of this fiscal year for its much needed renovations and upgrades after operating for 12 years.

South Cobb Aquatic Center also reopened the last month of this fiscal year after receiving a rebuilt dehumidification system, evacuator (chlorinated air exhaust) system and painting the entire facility.

Gymnastics program participation continued to grow with fee revenues exceeding the cost of operations for the second year in a row.

Cobb County hosted the USTA National Open 16s Championship at Harrison Tennis Center. This event attracted many of the top players in the country. This was the 11th year Cobb County has hosted this event.

Cobb tennis class program introduced tennis to more than 2,500 participants. This is one of the larger programs of this type in the statealt.

Revenue for the year was $528,000, the highest all-time revenue figure for Cobb’s tennis program. This included all-time high revenues for three of the six tennis centers: Harrison Tennis Center ($208,500), Lost Mountain Tennis Center ($97,300) and Fair Oaks Tennis Center ($65,800).

More than 500 teams and nearly 6,000 participants utilized a Cobb tennis facility for league play in FY13. These teams host 1,800 visiting teams and in excess of 20,000 players coming to Cobb and our facilities to compete in league competition. These leagues included ALTA, USTA, Cobb Tennis Leagues and others.

SPLOST construction began at Harrison Tennis Center. The tennis center building is being replaced with a larger facility that can accommodate the customers that utilize the center. Work should be completed in March 2014. Other SPLOST projects are in the earlier stages, including replacement of tennis center buildings at Kennworth, Terrell Mill, Fair Oaks and Sweetwater Tennis Centers.

Forty-four of Cobb’s tennis courts were resurfaced in 2013. Funding for these projects was from cell-phone tower leases in Cobb parks.

The 15th annual ABA Dixieland National BMX competition was held in April at the Wild Horse Creek Park BMX track. More than 1,500 participants from 42 states, ages 3 to 55, raced for a national championship.

The Legacy Showcase youth fast-pitch softball competition was held in July at Al Bishop and Lost Mountain Complexes. The county hosted 104 teams, spanning from New Mexico to Connecticut, who came to display their skills to more than 265 college coaches. This event generated a $1.3 million dollar local economic impact to the community.

New tournaments were brought into the Al Bishop and Lost Mountain complexes during FY 13. The 2013 NSA Men’s slow-pitch world tournament was held in August with 98 teams participating and the USSSA Women’s Slow-Pitch National Tournament was held in September with 20 teams participating.

Malcolm Maye and Jerry Thomas were recognized by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and the Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department for their dedication and services to youth athletic programs in our community. Maye was the 36th volunteer to receive the department’s Volunteer of the Year Award for his 18 years of service to the Milford Girls Softball Association. Jerry, of the Powder Springs Girls Softball Association, received the Jack Demarest “Lifetime Achievement” Award for over 21 years of service helping children to love the game of softball.

The Cobb Youth Football League continues to grow in its third season. Nine organizations are now participating, with 51 teams, ages 6-12, competing each Saturday from September to November.

The ETC and Prompt camps continue to be the top performing arts camp in the region. All camps were sold out with a waiting list. Due to the exceptional quality of the ETC camp, five campers were able to get into the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts – Cobb County Magnet School for the Arts.

The 2013 Encore Series at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre held sellout shows. The series started off with the hit musical “Crazy For You” presented by Pebblebrook High School. Other Encore Series performers included The Association, Brenda Lee, Bobby Goldsboro, Ray Price and Johnny Rivers.

The Art Place-Mountain View served 900 students in art camps and more than 1,200 individuals were served in the various classes offered at the facility. The Art Station-Big Shanty doubled revenue for the holiday artist market and partnered with Cobb Marietta Water Authority for WaterSmart water/art conservation art contest and art show. The Mable House Art Center served more than 2,500 patrons from the community through its Annual Storytelling Festival.

The Annual Christmas House and Mable’s Tea Room increased participating artists and revenue. Total revenue increased by 16 percent from last fiscal year.

Keep Cobb Beautiful and the Natural Resources unit held a joint department cleanup at Heritage Park. The event consisted of an education component, cleanup and mulching of the trees in the parking lot islands. Forty volunteers, consisting of 32 children under the age of 18, participated.

The Solid Waste Department became a division of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs occurred. Vegetative Waste Recovery/Recycling served 33,317 customers and processed 40,200 tons of materials.

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Public Safety

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The 2013 Metro Atlanta Urban Areas Security Initiative awarded the Cobb County Police Department with a more than $1.3 million grant to purchase new equipment. This grant is part of the Law Enforcement Operations/Specialty Teams Urban Area Security Initiative project. The grant included a Lenco BearCat SWAT vehicle for the Cobb County Police SWAT Team, a pontoon boat for the Cobb County Police Dive team and equipment that can be used by the Cobb County Police Bomb Squad during a biohazard-explosive situations.

In December 2012, the Quality of Life Unit became part of a joint operation to reduce crime in the Six Flags Drive area. The unit focused on violations that were visible to the public and that made the area look dilapidated, such as trash, debris, buildings in disrepair and junk cars. During the months that the unit focused on Six Flags Drive, a noticeable difference was made in the appearance of the area. Crime statistics also showed a reduction in some criminal offenses. The Quality of Life Unit then moved on to other areas and finished out the fiscal year by starting a similar project in the mobile home communities on Atlanta Road.

During Fiscal Year 2013, the Quality of Life unit had a 25 percent increase in arrests, 54 percent increase in citations issued, and more than 100 percent increase in the number of violation notices issued. Over half of this year’s arrests involved drugs, weapons and locating wanted fugitives.

The agency also hosted two Safety Blitz/Block Parties for the south Cobb area. These events allowed employees to interact with the community they serve in a fun and lighthearted setting, It also enabled residents to learn more about services and ways they can keep themselves safe. All public safety departments were represented.

The Cobb County Police Department 2013 active shooter training was conducted in cooperation with Lockheed Martin at facilities associated with its assembly plant. Training was a joint venture incorporating principles of unified command, with participants from the Cobb County Police Department, Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services, Cobb County 911 Communications and Lockheed Martin Security and Emergency Services. Assistance and support was also provided by the Cobb County Emergency Management Agency Community Emergency Response Team program and CCPD Explorer program in the form of volunteers to act as civilian/employee role players in an industrial setting.

The Emergency Communications 911 center deployed an upgrade to the 911 phone system. The $1.2 million upgrade, including installation and maintenance, will be instrumental for the future addition of Automatic Call Distribution and eventually the addition of receiving text messaging for emergency calls.

In 2014, the current Computer Aided Dispatch system will be upgraded in the 911 center to the latest version. The upgrade will provide mobile mapping, automatic vehicle location and other features at a cost of $1.9 million.

The 911 center will implement the Automatic Call Delivery system currently available in the E911 Viper Phone System. This system would alleviate the need for dispatchers to multi-task the responsibilities of the Police, Fire or Sheriff radio positions, while simultaneously answering incoming 911 and administrative calls.

Cobb Emergency Management Agency launched a new and innovative outdoor warning siren system called WeatherWarn to activate during severe inclement weather. The $23,700 system, purchased with Emergency Management Preparedness Grant funding, takes the GPS coordinates from the path of a tornado and activates the sirens within that area. It also allows the opportunity to update social media sites and send e-mails to a weather distribution list. This system gives a more accurate warning to Cobb County citizens by sounding the sirens in only the affected area. Cobb EMA and 911 will also continue to have the option of activating sirens manually to guarantee maximum effectiveness in alerting residents.

Cobb’s Community Emergency Response Team trained more than 100 new members in 2013. There are a total of 1,457 members who have been trained and the program continues to be the largest in the state. This year, six initial training courses and 20 skills sustainment courses were offered to these volunteers. They also participated in a number of events, such as two Cobb County Public Safety Educational Block Parties, the North Georgia State Fair, Helicopter Days, Acworth Police Department’s Cover All Bases, East Cobb Community Health Drive-Thru Flu Shots Event and Lockheed Martin’s week-long active shooter exercise.

The BullsEye Laser-Driven Fire Extinguisher Training System, also purchased this year through EMPG grant funding ($11,166), has been an excellent tool in training fire safety techniques to residents going through the CERT Initial Training, as well as to the public at outreach events such as the Public Safety Educational Block Party held in October.

Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services purchased four F-150 Ford pick-ups for inspectors in the fire marshal’s office, at the cost of $18, 250 each and one Ford Fusion hybrid vehicle for the fire chief at the cost of $27,759.
The following Apparatus was purchased with SPLOST funds.
· Ladder truck 4 - $1,095,821, put into service in February 2013.
· Ladder truck 22 - $1,095,821, put into service in February 2013.
· Air Truck 27 - $317,810, put into service in January 2013.
· Air Bottle Support vehicle for station 30 - $88,730, put into service in April 2013.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the Fire Marshal’s Office completed 14,813 fire inspections, plan reviews and code enforcement activities that resulted in $455,000 of revenues. This includes all fire code citations and fees as well as citations written by the Fire Investigations Unit for fire lane violations and unauthorized burning. More than $62,000 in revenue was directly attributable to citations.
The Fire Marshal’s Office answered 341 fire code complaints. This is an increase of 43 percent since 2009. Indicative of an improving economy, the FMO also issued 1,668 permits in Fiscal Year 2013; the most since Fiscal Year 2008.

In July, the Fire Marshal’s Office required that all new construction inspection requests be completed online. The implementation of this policy played a major role in reducing the number of phone calls received by more than 3,000 calls. The Fire Marshal’s Office is currently working on the implementation of a similar online request system for plan review appointments.

Thirty one recruits completed the 28-week dual certification academy for fire and emergency medical technicians in March 2013. This was the first recruit class graduation in nearly three years. All 31 recruits successfully completed the program receiving national certifications as Advanced EMTs and state certified firefighters. These firefighters are serving the residents of Cobb at their newly assigned stations.

Cobb County Public Fire and Life Safety Division taught more than 59,000 students during more than 1,700 classes throughout the year. The department distributed 621 smoke alarms and installed 67.

Public safety staff developed a pawn shop ordinance whereby stolen items can be more easily discovered and criminals caught by use of a pawn shop inventory database. This database allows police officers to check items reportedly stolen against the items in pawn shops. This should result in more property crimes being solved and property recovered.

The Cobb County Police Explorer Post 5 had more than two dozen Explorers (ages 14-21) participate in 2013. The Explorers competed in a number of competitions, winning first place overall for the fifth straight year at the Georgia State Championship in April. The Explorers also competed in the South East Regional Championship and finished first, second and fourth place in team competitions. The Explorers had more than 2,900 hours of community service for 2013.

In June, the Cobb County Police Athletic League hosted a youth football camp at the Wallace Park recreational fields. Our goal was to provide the children with a positive and enjoyable experience, regardless of their skill or ability. Officers and civilian coaches combined to give the children a 5 to 1 coach to child ratio. The Cobb County Explorers worked diligently registering approximately 45-65 campers per day with an approximate individual attendance of 140 campers.

Animal Control held numerous events at the shelter, boosting adoptions by 400 animals and strengthening relationships with local rescue shelters.

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Services

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In 2013, the Cobb County Board of Tax Assessors launched a new and improved Web site. This site features enhanced search capabilities which allow users to review groups of properties according to selected criteria. Additionally, this data can now be exported for use in an EXCEL file. Other new features include enhanced mapping tools, appeal tracking and building permit data. You can find it here. http://www.cobbassessor.org/

Cobb Senior Services continued to provide the region’s premier senior and active adult programs. Volunteers donated more than 21,323 hours, including approximately 64,700 miles driven throughout the county. The dollar equivalent, based upon the independent sector’s most current value of volunteer time, is $472,091. The mileage value based upon county reimbursement is $32,319, for a grand total of $504,410 in volunteer hours and unreimbursed miles -- an increase of $46,058 of donated dollars from the year before.

Workout Central, the fitness component of the Senior Wellness Center hosted 4,909 participants. There were 28,027 other unique visits to the Senior Wellness Center to attend cooking classes in the teaching kitchen, art studio offerings, health and wellness education, walking club and civic meetings as well as other aging service professional events.

Approximately 38,500 meals were delivered to homebound clients through the Cobb County Meals on Wheels program, while 20,000 meals were delivered to neighborhood centers and an additional 4,250 meals were served through Cobb Café to seniors and employees.alt

The social services staff of Cobb County Senior Services alone served more than a thousand seniors here during the last year, helping those who spent their lives building our community.
· Care Transitions program helps keep seniors from quickly returning to the hospital and provided 116 seniors with 1,624 meals; 19 clients with 90 hours of homemaker service; and 18 clients with 58 one-way trips.
· Commodities (food box) program provided 310 boxes of food to low income seniors.
· Share The Care assisted 51 caregivers of Alzheimer’s or related dementia with financial assistance with respite in home, respite out-of-home, material aide for a total of 2,398.25 hours.
· In home services voucher program provided assistance to 106 seniors with personal care and homemaker services for a total of 4,217.25 hours.
· Information and assistance provided assistance to 3,560 callers seeking information or services.
· Cobb Freedom Transportation program provided 3,267 trip vouchers to 187 clients.

The Cobb County Public Library System launched a special public awareness campaigned called, “Discover the Possibilities @ Your Libraries.” The campaign brought greater public awareness of the library system’s resources and services. Whether residents visited a library or visited the library’s Web site, they learned more about the richness and value of a library in the community. More than 11,000 people connected to the “Discover the Possibilities “and shared how their libraries helped them discover new experiences and skills.

Library system staff conducted classes on digital devices, online databases and computers at public events, schools, county departments/organizations and throughout the library system. This resulted in an increase in use of Cobb libraries and the system’s Web site. More than 1,700 participated in virtual instruction and more than 250 took advantage of in-person instruction. This new strategic learning initiative for citizens and staff increased the usage of digital resources and library materials and services.

Working with other county departments opened possibilities for the library system to connect to more residents. Cobb County’s TV 23 assists the library system with “The Library Show,” a new show instituted during the library awareness campaign. The show features interviews with representatives from local organizations such as Kennesaw State University Museum of History and Holocaust Education. Representatives from Zoo Atlanta, Cobb Public Safety and Center for Puppetry Arts visited “The Library Show” to share information.

Community support helped the library system’s Summer Reading Program be a huge success. More than 12,413 children registered to participate in the annual Summer Reading Program. Thanks to the Cobb Library Foundation, each child who completed the reading program received a paperback book. Once again, Cobb EMC donated an iPad as the summer reading grand prize. The Bernice B. Franklin Foundation donated Kindles for prize drawings. Coupons for free pizza were given by Pizza Hut and Stevi B’s Pizza. Support for children’s programs provides opportunities for children to discover the world of possibilities.

Thanks to the many people who purchased used books, DVDs and videos, the library system raised more than $75,996 in 2013. The ongoing sales held in each library brought in $25,083. Proceeds go toward the purchase of books for the library system. The Cobb Library Foundation donated $25,000 for the purchase of books and e-books. The continued support from the foundation and individuals helps the library system to better serve the community.

In 2013, the Cobb County 4-H staff, through Cooperative Extension, taught an agriscience curriculum which consists of nine lessons that relate to earth and life sciences. The following lessons were taught to enhance the 5th grade curriculum: Georgia Barrier Islands, Electricity and Magnetism, Plant Classification, Micro-organisms, Marine Life, Mold, Clean Water, Nutrition and Inherited Plant Traits. Right before the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, students reviewed what they learned by playing the “Jeopardy” game covering all nine topics. More than 16,000 students were taught through this in-class opportunity.

Cobb County 4-H offers a variety of out-of-classroom experiences for youth. In addition to special events, Cobb 4-H programming included leadership development, public speaking and community service. One of the major opportunities through 4-H has always been developing public speaking skills. Project Achievement is a competition where 4-Hers choose a topic of interest, research that subject and then create a visual and oral presentation. During the months of November, December and January, 4-H staff visit schools one afternoon per month to help 4-Hers select a project topic of interest, develop the speech and design accompanying posters.

Urban Agriculture is the component of the Cobb County Cooperative Extension that provides information and education to the public and professionals on horticulture and natural resources. There is a current surge in home gardening in urban areas. The university based information and classes are helping many first time gardeners realize their goals of safe food production. In 2013, our county submitted 1,746 soil tests for analysis. These tests provided valuable information on amending the soil for planting. Our staff answered questions or helped diagnose disease and other problems for approximately 3,000 residents and professionals.

Cobb Extension also plays an integral role in training for recertification credits to pesticide license holders and certified arborists to enable them to maintain state mandated certifications. Horticulture staff presents three annual trainings for certifications pertinent to their license. Cobb Extension also offers training for recertification credits on an individual basis. Its Green Industry Update provided pesticide recertification credits for 112 individuals. Training and certifying pesticide applicators protects the public and the environment. In 2013, the department was able to qualify for ISA credits issued upon completion of the Green Industry Update.

Cobb County master gardeners are residents of our community who have received research based horticultural training from the University of Georgia through the Cobb County Cooperative Extension Service. In return for this training, they provide educational opportunities to Cobb County residents including delivering sound horticultural practices and techniques in accordance with the recommendations and research of the University of Georgia. Master gardeners made in excess of 18,500 contacts throughout Cobb County donating more than 17,000 volunteer hours. The total value of volunteer services rendered by these individuals reached $322,000.

Walk Georgia is an 8-12 week program offered by the Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department designed to increase physical activity among residents. Regular physical activity is important for the physical, mental and economic health of our communities. The spring Walk Georgia program had 286 participants enrolled in Cobb County. The fall Walk Georgia program increased to more than 600 participants. In 2013, the University of Georgia received a $1 million grant from The Coca-Cola Company to enhance the Walk Georgia program. This grant will allow the University of Georgia to expand the program in 2014 through personnel and availability, which will enhance individual county participation and effectiveness through the local Cooperative Extension office.

Cobb Cooperative Extension has partnered with Cobb2020 and the Cobb County School District in offering an opportunity for students and teachers to enroll in the Walk Georgia program through Walk Cobb. This is a collaborative effort to increase a healthy lifestyle within our community.

There are more than 1,800 restaurants in Cobb County. One trained food service worker impacts the meals of thousands of customers each day. In response to the need to provide training to food service management personnel in the area of food safety, Cobb Extension, in Collaboration with Cobb & Douglas Public Health Center for Environmental Health, offered three 16-hour Food Safety Certification Training sessions with more than 120 food service professionals attending ServSafe trainings.
Property Management Department formed a committee to study downtown Marietta parking as well as access. The first phase concentrated on way-finding signage throughout the downtown streets directing vehicles to available parking, signage within the decks advising when parking spaces are available on differing times and days of the week, as well as implementing the acceptance of credit and debit cards.

Hurt Road Park’s restroom building was demolished and reconstructed to strict Americans with Disabilities Act standards utilizing Community Development Block Grant funding

Various renovations and work took place for county buildings this past year. East Cobb Tag Office was renovated to provide better customer service while the Tax Commissioner’s Office gained an improved lobby service area. Property Management completed Probate Court phase one renovation for increased security and safety. Cobb County also received the LEED certification for the Austell Senior Center.

The Purchasing Department expanded the “Keep it in Cobb” program by offering five “How to do Business with Cobb County” business seminars. A seminar was held in each county district with excellent participation by local vendors. Approximately 55 vendors were in attendance at each seminar. The final seminar for 2013, held in October, was offered in partnership with the Cobb County School District and was well received by the vendor community.

In January, the Purchasing Department initiated a bid analysis program to provide a comparison of bid prices and to demonstrate the positive results of competitive bidding. As a result of the cooperatives efforts of county staff and the Purchasing Department in promoting competitive bidding practices, more than $2 million in savings was achieved in 2013.

Fleet Management received several recognitions this year from 100 Best Fleet’s in North America and ranked 13th Green Fleet in North America. These awards are symbols of the commitment to providing cost efficient services, using industry best practices. Cobb Fleet is committed to environmental responsibility and stewardship by implementing innovative green ideas such as: the use of biodiesel, burning waste oil for heat, purchasing electric vehicles and the reduction of the county’s carbon footprint through effective management of the county’s vehicle fleet.

Fleet Management installed a new vehicle lift and tire machine for the car shop. The installation of the new equipment increased productivity in the shop by 5 percent. This increase in efficiency and productivity has made a positive impact on the department and our customers to allow for a 45 minute preventative maintenance turnaround time. This reduced down time allow our public safety customers to spend less time in the shop and more time keeping our residents safe.

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SPLOST

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2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax
Cobb County’s Department of Transportation continued working towards completion of the 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which included a six-year collection period that ended December 2011. In July 2013, the county reestablished budgets for the remaining projects which had been either previously deferred or delayed, resulting from decreased SPLOST revenue.

In 2013, six 2005 SPLOST transportation projects, valued at nearly $31 million, were bid for construction. The remaining 19 of the more than 300 projects listed in the 2005 SPLOST are currently undeferred projects or require state and/or federal funding.

2005 SPLOST projects underway/completed in 2013:

Barrett Parkway
Construction to be completed in 2013, with sidewalks completed in October, on this $21 million thoroughfare improvement project that widened 3.6 miles of Ernest Barrett Parkway from four-lanes divided to six-lanes divided from south of Burnt Hickory Road to Cobb Parkway (U.S. Highway 41). Other project improvements include a 10-foot asphalt multi-use trail, a new pedestrian bridge and traffic signal upgrades.

Floyd Road
The $5.5 million safety and operational improvement project that began on Floyd Road in August 2012 continues. The project widens 1.1 miles of Floyd Road, from Clay Road to Hicks Road, to a standard four-lane median divided roadway consisting of two 11-foot wide travel lanes in each direction and a 20-foot wide grass median. A 10-foot wide sidewalk will be constructed on the west side of the roadway and a five-foot wide sidewalk will be constructed on the east side. The estimated completion date for the project is spring 2014.

Lower Roswell Road
The Lower Roswell Road (East) project is an $8.6 million safety and operational improvement project from Davidson Road to Timber Ridge Road. The project added four-foot bike lanes, eight-foot asphalt trail and five-foot sidewalks for the entire length of the project. Turn lanes were added at key intersections. The intersection of Lower Roswell Road, Timber Ridge Road and Willeo Road will be the location of the forth roundabout in Cobb County.

Noonday Creek Trail
The Noonday Creek Trail project under construction is adding 2.5 miles of multi-use trail on Barrett Lakes Boulevard from Barrett Lakes Boulevard at Duncan Road to Noonday Creek, then east along Noonday Creek to Bells Ferry Road. This $4.27 million project adds two pedestrian bridges over Noonday Creek along with sections of elevated walkway and will be completed in June of 2014.

Queen Mill Road
This 1.8 mile project currently underway will add safety and operational improvements to Queen Mill Road from Mableton Parkway to Veterans Memorial Highway. The project will also include curb, gutter, sidewalk and drainage where needed. The construction cost of the project is $3.57 million.


2011 SPLOST
Collections for the four-year 2011 SPLOST began on Jan. 1, 2012. In 2013, engineering/design started on 130 of the 170 identified projects in the program. Construction has started on 81 projects with 55 projects reaching completion.

2011 SPLOST projects completed/underway in 2013:

Drainage Projects
Construction started on 17 drainage projects in 2013. Nearly all of the projects replaced deficient metal drains installed in the 1960s and 1970s. Cost of the drainage projects was approximately $2.6 million to date.

Hopkins Road Bridge
Construction is complete on the $828,000 Hopkins Road Bridge project which replaced the former substandard, weight-restricted bridge on Hopkins Road over Wildhorse Creek, with a new bridge with enhanced pedestrian accommodations and sidewalk extension on the west side to connect to the Silver Comet Trail. The new bridge, now open to traffic, was a joint effort between the City of Powder Springs and Cobb County.

New Chastain Road Bridge
This 2013 bridge project replaced the weight-restricted westbound bridge on New Chastain Road over Noonday Creek with a new bridge of two travel lanes, shoulders and pedestrian accommodations. The project began in May 2013 and was completed in October 2013 at a cost of $1.2 million.

Paper Mill Road Bridge over Sope Creek
New construction of the Paper Mill Road Bridge over Sope Creek replaced the former substandard, weight-restricted bridge. The $2.1 million project replaced and widened the bridge while also adding sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety and was funded by 2005 and 2011 SPLOST dollars. Construction began in May 2013. The new bridge was open to traffic in October 2013.

Resurfacing
In 2013, the county awarded $23.4 million for three resurfacing contracts and one crack sealing contract as part of the 2011 SPLOST. When added to the three 2005 SPLOST resurfacing contracts awarded since October 2011, these contracts result in a total resurfacing of 910 streets (282 miles) within the county’s four commission districts. This represents a cumulative investment of $53 million in preserving county infrastructure.

Shiloh Road/Shallowford Road
Construction on the $11 million Shiloh Road/Shallowford Road safety and operational improvement project, which began in November 2012, continues with scheduled completion in November 2014. The project will upgrade the existing roadway to two 11-foot wide travel lanes, add a 12-foot center turn lane and provide turn lanes at major intersections on Shiloh Road/Shallowford Road, from Wade Green Road to Canton Road. In addition, bike-friendly lanes and sidewalk will be added to the corridor. The project was funded by 2005 and 2011 SPLOST funding.

Sidewalk Projects
Construction started on 15 of 19 projects in 2013 to include 6.28 miles of sidewalks. The types of sidewalk construction includes sidewalks that fill in gaps, provide safe routes to schools and sidewalks deemed necessary for transit, activity centers and safety related issues. The cost of the project is $5.7 million to date.

Skip Spann Connector
The Skip Spann Connector will provide a new bridge over Interstate 75 north of Chastain Road to provide direct access from Kennesaw State University to the Town Center economic activity center. The project will provide 19 percent reduction in daily traffic along Chastain Road at the I-75 interchange along with congestion relief, improved access from KSU to the Northwest Corridor Managed Lanes access ramps at Big Shanty and the GRTA/CCT park and ride lots and pedestrian and bicycle access between KSU and the stadium. The project is expected to break ground in early 2014 with an estimated cost of $17 million, partially funded by SPLOST, state and federal grants.

PARKS
2013 has been an active and productive year for the PARKS team managing projects under the 2011 PRCA SPLOST program. The entire program is comprised of an $82 million dollar PRCA SPLOST budget with 172 projects in 50 of our parks and facilities. To date, we have completed 15 percent of these projects and have another 68 percent in design or under construction.

To make the available funding go as far as possible, PARKS staff is directly involved in many of the construction activities, ranging from roof replacements to painting to laser grading and athletic field construction. The majority of work continues to be in selecting and managing the efforts of a variety of professional architecture/engineering firms and construction contractors, remaining on budget and on schedule. An added challenge is to perform this work safely in our parks with the least possible disruption to the athletic schedules and activities of our users and volunteers.

A few examples of the projects completed during 2013:

Cross Tie Retaining Wall Replacement
Because they represented potential safety issues, PARKS tackled several of these projects early in the program. The treated wooden cross tie retaining walls had deteriorated in many of our older parks, and have been replaced with modular block walls designed to last for decades. Wallace Park and Lions Park in Mableton and Perry Parham Park and Fullers Park in Marietta are complete. Design is underway for the Rhyne Park project in Smyrna. In the case of Fullers Park, the project included the addition of 38 needed parking spaces on pervious concrete.

Scoreboard Replacement
PARKS has replaced nearly all of the scoreboards on our baseball, softball and football fields. The old scoreboards were obsolete, not energy efficient, and therefore extremely expensive to maintain and operate. SPLOST funding allowed PARKS to replace these boards with wireless LED boards, expected to recover their cost in three to five years through electricity savings alone. The new boards have delivered an immediate improvement for players, coaches and spectators in these parks.

Noonday Creek Park
Working with the volunteer football and soccer associations active in this park, staff identified a number of significant improvements made possible by SPLOST funding. All active fields have been re-graded to improve drainage, have had new sod installed, and two previously ungraded practice areas have been made safer. Field lighting and electrical wiring improvements were also completed. PARKS staff repaired and rehabilitated three buildings at the park. Taken together, these projects have greatly improved the safety, playability and appearance of Noonday Creek Park for all of its visitors.

Aquatic Center Improvements
Following the major success of our 2012 renovation at the Mountain View Aquatic Center, we have undertaken similar projects at the Central Aquatic Center, South Cobb Aquatic Center and West Cobb Aquatic Center. In these cases, the project scope includes painting the interiors of these indoor swimming facilities, installing new plaster on pool surfaces and other needed repairs. Indoor air quality improvements similar to those completed at Mountain View are now complete at South Cobb and underway at West Cobb.

Various projects
The Property Management Department restored or replaced 12 roofs on county buildings with 2011 SPLOST funding. It also replaced heating and air conditioning systems at 12 facilities with 2011 SPLOST funding.

SPLOST helped Public Safety purchase 18 Zoll Medical X-Series monitor/defibrillators with capability of external cardiac pacing, 12-Lead ECG interpretation and transmission and carbon monoxide/oxygen/carbon dioxide oximetry at a cost of $522,827.

Public Safety removed outdated sprinkler piping in Fire Stations 15 and 25, replaced with up-to-date sprinkler system at a cost of $31,078. It also replaced 37 apparatus bay doors at various fire stations at a cost of $174,104. Both projects were funded by SPLOST.

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Transportation

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Six Flags Livable Centers Initiative
Cobb County Department of Transportation prepared the Six Flags Livable Centers Initiative Study for the Six Flags activity center to further efforts made through previous plans. It also presents the community with implementable enhancement projects and policies. The LCI study developed a master plan for multi-modal transportation options, a mix of land uses supported by an economic analysis and an implementable five-year program. The LCI Study recommended bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure improvements, increased access to public transit and delivery of efficient freight movement. In addition, the study provided guidance for developing programs and incentives that promote sustainable development while meeting the needs of current and future residents, employees and visitors.

Connect Cobb Northwest Atlanta Corridor Environmental Assessment
In association with the Federal Transit Authority, Cobb County DOT initiated the Environmental Assessment associated with the Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis study of the U.S. Highway 41/Interstate 75 corridor. The environmental assessment will fully integrate environmental work required by the National Environmental Policy Act process and other federal laws and regulations in coordination with the AA study. The environmental assessment will identify and document anticipated environmental effects associated with the potential high capacity transit investment. The 18-month study will include multiple rounds of public involvement.

Countywide Comprehensive Transportation Plan Update
Cobb County DOT initiated the five-year update of the Countywide Comprehensive Transportation Plan along with the cities of Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Springs and Smyrna. This will update the 2008 CTP. The department began contract negotiations with the highest-rated firm, following a competitive bid process, in December 2012 and will kick off the 18-month planning process in early 2013. It will inventory and assess the local transportation network’s adequacy for serving current and future population and economic needs, update community goals and develop an implementation program for providing the desired level of transportation facilities and services throughout the planning period.

Connect Cobb Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis Study
Cobb County DOT led and completed the Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis. It studied transit needs and improvement alternatives, evaluated the feasibility for high capacity transit along the corridor and developed a locally preferred alternative. The selected LPA combines new Bus Rapid Transit and enhanced Express Bus service that roughly follows the US 41/I-75 corridor between northern Cobb County and the MARTA Arts Center Station in Midtown. This alignment links MARTA’s regional transit network with key Cobb County destinations, including activity centers at Cumberland and Town Center, Kennesaw State University, Southern Polytechnic State University, large shopping centers and Dobbins Air Reserve Base. Completion of the study in December 2012 cleared the way for the next phase in the planning process: preparation of an Environmental Assessment.

Cobb Community Transit
Cobb Community Transit opened the new CCT paratransit facility located next to its multi-use transit center in April 2013. The facility accommodates CCT paratransit operations that include reservations, certifications, scheduling and dispatch. Cobb Senior Services occupies space in the facility and operates the Senior Services Transportation Program. The Mobility/Cobb Freedom Voucher Programs also operate from the facility to provide Cobb County’s senior citizens and individuals with disabilities the ability to access transportation services beyond what is currently available through CCT and CSS.

The facility has a learning center to conduct travel-training programs such as “Get on the Bus Gus.” This program is designed to provide training for seniors and individuals with disabilities to help them become confident bus riders and to encourage them to transition from paratransit service to the less costly and fixed route service.

Automatic Vehicle Location Systems were installed on all CCT fixed route and paratransit buses. AVLS calculates the real-time location of any bus equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite receiver that transmits the data immediately to the CCT Multi-Use Transit Center through radio or cellular communications. This data can be used to improve service delivery and reliability, verify data for daily operations or it can be archived for further analysis. CCT was able to implement “Go CCT” which utilizes real-time location data to provide customers with real-time information on arrival, departure and location of the buses.

Airport
In 2013 the Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field received federal and state grant funding for the extension of parallel taxiways A and B to the western end of the runway. The taxiway extensions will improve runway safety and increase aircraft capacity. Design was completed for the new Air Traffic Control Tower, a $2.5 million project to be funded with a 50 percent federal grant. Construction will begin in 2014. A customs facility was designed with construction to begin in 2014. The customs facility will allow international arrivals to come directly to the airport from foreign destinations to clear customs inspections.

Traffic Operations
Cobb County DOT activated the county’s first flashing yellow arrow operation at the intersection of the East-West Connector at Cooper Lake Road. This new operation has documented safety benefits without significantly reducing the efficiency of the intersection.

Cobb County DOT completed the upgrade of the Traffic Management Center software used to share information with the Georgia Department of Transportation. The software package, Nav II, is used daily in the Cobb TMC to view and control closed-circuit television cameras, control changeable message signs and share information with the region.

Cobb County DOT completed the upgrade of the Traffic Management Center that added work station consoles for the center to ensure adequate space is available for both staff and partner agencies during major weather or other events. The project also included additional equipment, hardware and software for installation of monitors within the Department of Transportation. The monitors will increase efficiency by allowing staff to collaboratively view operations and rapidly interact with the center, the county network and select regional networks.

Utilities
The Cobb DOT Utilities section issued 1,629 permits to public and private entities for utility work within the right-of-way with an average turn-around of three days. The telecommunication permits generated fees totaling approximately $196,153. Through the permit review and inspection process, Cobb employees provide a valuable service in monitoring work that affects the county. The utilities section initiated an electronic permitting process where applicants can apply and receive approved permits on line through the DOT Web site. This system is now active and training has begun for applicants. It is anticipated that all utility permits will be approved and received electronically by the end of fiscal year 2014.

 

Water

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The past year was difficult for water utilities in the Southeast. Unprecedented rainfall levels in the Atlanta area had a substantial negative impact on water sales. While an improving economy led to increases in some development fees, revenues for 2013 are expected to close at about 10 percent less than projected. Offsetting this was a reduction in expenses of about 7 percent, due primarily to the reduced need to purchase potable water from our wholesale supplier.

The Water System’s financial situation was benefitted significantly by its successful refinancing of one of its outstanding bond issues. Despite a shortfall in revenues, the financial outlook for the Water System remains very positive and its triple AAA bond rating was reaffirmed by the nation’s top rating agencies.

The South Cobb Tunnel project proceeds within budget, and the tunnel portion of the contract is complete. An issue was encountered during testing of the lift station, which delayed the completion of the lift station portion of the project. The contractor anticipates that the project will be completed by July.

The $10.6 million R.L. Sutton Biosolids Receiving Station project is under construction and currently on schedule to be completed in summer 2014. This station will allow the introduction of dewatered sewage biosolids, received via truck delivery from off-site sources, to the incineration system at the Sutton facility. The project will reduce landfill requirements and result in substantial ongoing disposal cost savings.

The Water System continued to replace infrastructure. In 2013, approximately 21.5 miles of water mains were replaced. The majority of these were located in subdivisions where aging water mains, at or near their useful life, were replaced with ductile iron pipe. In addition, approximately 6,300 residential water meters were replaced as part of our meter change out program to ensure reliable water consumption measurement.

Recently, the Water System completed a billing system upgrade. This upgrade provides enhanced navigation for call center customer service representatives and the opportunity to initiate new procedures designed to streamline business processes. Also included in the upgrade were improvements to the interactive customer Web site portal. The new site offers better functionality, improved navigation and a more professional look.

For the third year in a row, the Operations Division received the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Wastewater Collections of the Year Gold Award for Outstanding Operation of a Wastewater Collection System in the category of large systems (more than 50,000 customers.) Platinum Awards were received for 12 consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Northwest Water Reclamation Facility, eight consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Noonday Water Reclamation Facility and five years at South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility. R.L. Sutton Water Reclamation facility was honored with a Gold Award for compliance in 2012.

In addition, the Cobb County Water Quality Laboratory was awarded the 2013 Laboratory Quality Assurance Award for a Municipal Wastewater Laboratory in the category of greater than 20 MGD.

The area of public education and outreach continues as a focus for the agency and serves as a national and statewide industry model in environmental education. The watershed stewardship “Ecological Tips” video series and water efficiency “Water $aver” newsletter are two continued opportunities to engage the community in ways to contribute as better environmental stewards. Also, this year, the distribution of an electronic version of the Annual Water Quality Report for the first time now makes this document even more far-reaching with direct access available through the county and Water System Web sites.

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