Cobb County Government

2011 Cobb County Annual / Popular Report




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FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Tim Lee
Cobb Commission Chairman

For much of our community, its families and businesses, this last year has been challenging. Slow economic growth and high unemployment have placed a tremendous strain on our efforts to provide essential government services and the many quality of life services we have come to enjoy.

Your elected officials and county staff have worked hard over the last several years to identify ways to cut cost and increase efficiency with minimal service impacts. The board of commissioners created a citizens oversight committee to dig into the operations, spending, funding and effectiveness of our county government. The committee is expected to report back to the board of commissioners early in 2012 with its recommendations on what works well and what to focus on to improve how we do business.

This year, all areas of county government cut their operating budgets by 10 percent, many of our employees took unpaid furlough days and we placed plans for expanded services on hold. Voters approved a 1 cent sales tax to support our existing infrastructure while the board of commissioners put in place a minimal and temporary increase to the millage rate. By cutting costs and securing needed revenues, the county was able to balance its budget and maintain one of the highest credit ratings in the nation.

I am encouraged to see our local economy expanding and good things are happening. Recent announcements from companies such as Home Depot, Novelis, CCH Small Firm Services and Osmotica Pharmaceuticals have resulted in many new jobs and financial investments in our community.

As we close out the current year, there is no time to appreciate how far we have come. We as a county must be focused on working together to grow our economy, protect our infrastructure investments and to preserve the high quality of life our residents enjoy.


DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS

alt Helen Goreham
District One Commissioner

Despite the nation’s economic problems, District One has achieved positive developments during the past year. We have experienced growth in single family home construction and many subdivisions have been completed to meet growing demand. This demonstrates not just the desirability of living in our district, but the continuing potential the area holds for our future. We are in the process of closing out our 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax transportation projects, including work on Barrett Parkway. The country’s second roundabout located at Burnt Hickory and County Line Road, which is open and moving traffic safely and effectively. Our residents have shown their quality of character as well with the successful forming of the Friends of Leone Price Park, which held its first work day this year. We aren’t just working to maintain what we have. We are looking to provide for the future of our community and those who live here. Quality of life isn’t just a phrase in District One. It’s what we work to achieve.



alt Bob Ott
District Two Commissioner

In District Two, we continue to plan for the future. The board of commissioners received the final report for the Johnson Ferry Urban Design Plan, which will help us with efforts ranging from fostering community partnerships to improving the visual nature of the corridor. Likewise, the Vinings Vision Plan will help improve the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors. In addition, the plan will help preserve the rich historic and cultural resources Vinings has to offer. We have numerous developments getting started and underway, which will provide for those who decide our district is a great place to live and work. Meanwhile, the Citizen’s Oversight Committee continues to provide useful insight and advice during these challenging economic times. We all work for you, and the committee’s efforts help provide a clearer path we can follow. The county’s response to the severe winter storms of 2011, although challenging, demonstrated the hard work and commitment of our employees. They deserve our thanks. I will demonstrate my own commitment by continuing to work with the community and the residents in formulating plans for Cobb County. Adhering to these road maps will lead us to great places.



birrell headshot Jo Ann Birrell
District Three Commissioner

My first year in office has been a very humbling, challenging and rewarding experience.  All that has been accomplished in the district and for the county could not have been done without the volunteers who serve on the various boards and committees, our wonderful department heads and staff and the input and feedback from citizens of Cobb. 2011 saw an approved master plan for Mabry Park, a revised Purchasing Ordinance that gives preferences to local vendors and the launch of the Keep it in Cobb Committee. In addition, more than $50,000 was raised at the Library Foundation’s first annual gala, the Cobb Convention and Visitors Bureau is now Cobb Travel and Tourism and our communications team kept Cobb residents informed at every turn. The recycling centers throughout the county now include a book recycling program. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that 2012 brings as we continue to push for fiscal accountability and transparency through consolidation, streamlining and reorganization. The county tagline "Expect the Best" is only possible with the invaluable expertise and teamwork provided by county staff. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you in 2011 and will continue to serve you in 2012.



alt Woody Thompson
District Four Commissioner

Cobb County is working to bring a unified vision to continued improvements in District Four, particularly in the Six Flags, Mableton and River Line areas. Our South Cobb Implementation Strategy brought together a variety of accomplishments made in the area during the past five years and set the groundwork for how our county departments will persist with progress there. It also helps bring together various government and private groups so we can collaborate on the best way to accomplish these goals. Additionally, the state Department of Community Affairs designated a portion of the Six Flags Enterprise Zone and “Opportunity Zone,” which will help reduce taxes for businesses that create new jobs. These efforts, matched by the hard work of Cobb County government employees, will help us realize our full potential in the years to come. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of representing this fine community. Together, we can reach our goals.
 

Annual Report
 
COBB COUNTY GOVERNMENT 
 
 

In an effort to conserve natural resources and be the best steward of our budget, Cobb County will no longer print its Annual Report. Residents can conveniently access the Annual Report in its entirety online.


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hankerson headshot

FROM THE COUNTY MANAGER

David Hankerson
County Manager

This past year has shown Cobb County employees remain dedicated to maintaining a high level of service despite the tough economic times. The county maintained a balanced budget despite declining revenues. Our employees have consistently strived to provide exceptional services to the community and I am personally proud of them.

Keeping skilled, knowledgeable and talented employees is essential to our success. Fortunately, Cobb County has been able to recruit and retain the type of quality employees our residents have come to expect. The dedication of our employees and their devotion to customer service is unparalleled.

With the continued leadership of our board of commissioners, Cobb County will remain fiscally sound while offering an excellent quality of life. It is our promise to continue to provide the high level of service that our residents have come to expect.

Our commitment to excellent service and fiscal responsibility is a source of pride for our staff and we look forward to serving you in the coming year.  



Economy

economic development
Despite the nation’s ongoing financial problems, Cobb County has maintained its triple AAA rating for our General Obligation bonds since 1997. We are one of approximately 20 counties nationwide to achieve this status placing Cobb in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide.
 
Additionally, in 2001 the Cobb County Water System became the first county in the nation to earn the triple AAA rating for an unenhanced water and sewer system.

Home Depot announced that it will build a new customer support center in the Town Center area and create 700 new jobs by the year 2015. The new facility will support the company’s growing online business through email, live chat, calls and sales support.
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Other new company relocation and expansion announcements this year include MiMedx, CCH Small Firm Services, Novelis, Walmart Regional HQ, and Osmotica Pharmaceuticals. These announcements mean the creation of a combined total of about 1,300 new jobs in Cobb County.
State and local dignitaries gathered recently at the former Naval Air Station Atlanta for the ribbon cutting of the Georgia National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters. The three-story headquarters building is more than 220,500 square feet and will provide work space for up to 700 personnel. It is estimated that more than 1,500 Georgia Guard soldiers and airmen will eventually perform training on the property. The facility is a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Atlanta Regional Commission awarded Cobb County a $125,000 Livable Centers Initiative grant to promote quality growth and enhance livability in the Six Flags Corridor. The study will explore how to take advantage of the area’s potential for mixed-use centers, strengthen existing industrial uses and improve mobility and accessibility to all modes of transportation. Once the study plan is complete, it will be eligible for a larger amount of federal funding to implement recommended projects.
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Cobb County, in partnership with its community healthcare organizations, secured $500,000 in a Community Transformation Grant available through the 2010 Affordable Healthcare Act. These grant proceeds will be used to develop and implement a county-wide plan to reduce chronic disease in our area and to strengthen and enhance partnerships for a more unified and comprehensive approach to health care issues.

Cobb was officially designated a “camera-ready” community by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development in March. Camera ready is a designation by the state to offer film and television production companies easier, faster and better access to local resources and information.

The county secured additional Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding. This money will continue to be used to help Cobb stem the decline of home values by acquiring and rehabilitating foreclosed properties in areas of greatest need. It includes first-time homeowner’s assistance and will allow many people to become homeowners.

Cobb County hosted a successful visit with a delegation from its Sister City Seongdong-Gu from Seoul, Korea, in April 2011. The delegation included elected officials (mayor and council), representatives from the local school district and Korean business community.

employee graph The county continued to add functionality and information to its Geographical Information System mapping. This year, tax assessor information such as Year Built and Square Footage Data were added. They also added common places and state dams to GIS maps. In addition, the application was updated and development tools were added.

The county’s Community Development Block Grant program office was relocated from private office space to a county-owned building. The savings resulting from this will mean more funding could be available for projects and programs eligible for CDBG funding.

A portion of the Six Flags Enterprise Zone in south Cobb was formally designated as an “Opportunity Zone” by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in October 2011. Businesses in this area that provide a minimum of two new jobs on or after Jan. 1, 2011 are eligible for job tax credits which they may use against their Georgia income taxes or claim the excess credits against their withholding taxes.

During 2011, the Community Development Agency led a team of county staff in designing four major regulatory and policy initiatives: the South Cobb Implementation Strategy, the Vinings Vision Plan, the Redevelopment Inventory Update and amendments to the development standards. Each of these initiatives will lead to improvements in the community’s quality-of-life, encourages private market investment to expand economic activity and produces efficiency in land use, transportation and economic development to ensure that Cobb County grows in a safe and stable manner.

The South Cobb Implementation Strategy was an effort to explain the unified vision for south Cobb through various initiatives that are occurring in the Six Flags, Mableton and River Line areas. This strategy describes the various accomplishments in this community of the last five years and sets a detailed work program for how various county departments will continue working towards community improvements. This implementation strategy serves as a point of discussion where Cobb County departments can work with members of the Six Flags/Austell community, Mableton community, local area non-profits, the United Way Opportunity Zone and the private development community to foster partnerships and actions that will be mutually beneficial. Also the items in the strategic plan ensure that individual actions are working in collaboration to the larger goal of community improvements and investments.

The Vinings Vision Plan is the county’s first master plan for one of the oldest and most historic areas of the county. Residents and businesses in the Vinings village have had growing concerns over the last decade about traffic congestion and increased development intensity. These concerns produced this policy and public involvement effort to help establish a series of transportation improvements, some land use guidelines, and an effort to identify, promote and nurture the area’s positive attributes to help build sense-of-place and civic pride. A draft document will be presented to the Board of Commissioners in February 2012 for consideration.

The redevelopment inventory update is an effort to identify specific target locations where redevelopment would be encouraged through existing incentives, regulations, and continuous marketing to assist in removing an area of potential blight from harming the surrounding community. As a means of updating the target list, Community Development and Economic Development staff worked together to develop a framework for how sites would be reviewed to ensure we are encapsulating a variety of opportunities for the redevelopment needs of Cobb County. The final product for this initiative is a searchable database with graphical and mapping capabilities that will assist in promoting the sites most in need of new investment.

Finally, the Community Development Agency along with the Department of Transportation, Water, Stormwater Management, and the Fire Marshall have made a series of adjustments to the county’s development standards that removed some regulatory barriers that inhibited redevelopment activity in the past. This was done in an effort to support redevelopment activity in appropriate areas by encouraging development in areas with existing infrastructure and supporting the private sector in efforts to reuse vacant and underutilized properties.
 



Judicial Services

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The Sheriff's Office, along with other county agencies, faced the significant challenge this year of reducing costs while maintaining a consistent level of service. Despite budget reductions, the office was able to complete and make significant progress on several major initiatives.

The construction phase of the 2005 SPLOST-funded jail expansion project was completed in 2010. During 2011, the old intake area was renovated and converted into a mental health housing unit. This will relieve overcrowding in the infirmary, which is the result of an increase of inmates suffering from serious mental health issues.

The Sheriff's Office has worked closely with the courts and Property Management this year on the design for the renovation of the old Superior Court Building into space for Juvenile Court. Construction is scheduled to begin the first quarter of 2012. Relocating Juvenile Court to the downtown Justice Complex will provide many operational benefits as well as logistical and security challenges. Like the new Superior Court Building, the Juvenile Court will include state-of-the-art security components designed to ensure that judicial functions can occur in a safe and efficient manner.

One of the most significant projects completed by the Sheriff's Office in 2011 is the culmination of a multi-year effort to replace the Jail Information Management System. The system manages data related to every aspect of housing the county’s 2,500-inmate population as well as maintaining required records for the more than 38,000 inmates booked into the jail every year. The new application replaces a system that was more than 20 years old and provides a significantly greater capability to automate record keeping and improve efficiency.

The District Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Clerk of Superior Court, Cobb Police and Cobb Information Services, continues to improve upon Cobb’s E-Subpoena Program. Since 2008, Cobb police officers have received subpoenas via electronic service, expediting the delivery of service of subpoenas to officers to appear in court. This year, the Solicitor’s Office, State Court, Magistrate Court and Juvenile Court joined the E-Subpoena Team to bring their agencies into the process. The future of E-Subpoena will hopefully include all Cobb criminal courts and all police jurisdictions sending and receiving electronic subpoenas to officers.

The District Attorney’s Office now has access to the Video Oversight application. With this, prosecutors can view videos of suspects and victims recorded during Crimes Against Persons investigations from their offices.

In Magistrate Court, attorneys can now view their clients’ arrest warrants via the Web instead of coming into the court to obtain a copy.

The past year was a very productive one in Probate Court. It has made significant strides in making records available electronically back to the beginning of the current administration in 2008. We continue to work to make all historical records available at http://documents.cobbcounty.org/probatecourtinquiry/. We are also preparing to roll out the new and improved Weapons Carry Permit that will provide permit holders with heightened security and protections beginning January 2012.

Probate Court now has case-related documents available to attorneys via the Web. They may look up the following documents for Probate Court: all estate documents, guardianship summaries and other items such as oaths and certifications. This eliminates the need to go to the Probate Court in person to obtain this information.

Clerk of Superior Court staff is making great strides on e-filing of real estate documents and upgrades to real estate computer system for faster, user-friendly access. Court functions are in the new courthouse and evidence security is a major accomplishment in 2011.

The Victim Witness Unit continues to become more efficient in notifying victims and witnesses of the court process and court dates through enhancements to the process. Also, the unit has incorporated the use of a new documentation storage process, thus basically creating a paperless and electronic case management environment, resulting in quicker retrieval of victim and witness information. This will improve response times to call for assistance and information.
 




Overview of Financial Information

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certificate The financial information contained within this document is extracted from the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). In order to provide a comprehensive condensed overview, the financial statements are presented in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). All financial information presented within this section is accompanied by a reference to a location in the CAFR where the information was obtained. Cobb County’s component units are not presented within this section.

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has given an Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting to Cobb County for its Cobb County, Georgia 2010 Popular Report for fiscal year ended September 30, 2010. The award is a prestigious national honor, recognizing conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government popular reports. In order to receive this award, the published report must reflect the program standards of creativity, presentation, understandability and reader appeal.


Where the money comes from…

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financial-graph
The major sources of revenues for the County include property taxes, sales taxes, charges for services and grants & contributions. The total revenues for FY11 were $818,281,791. This is a 2% increase from FY10. The largest increase in revenues was a $24,074,777, (or a 9.9%) increase in property tax revenue.



Where the money goes…financial-graph
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The County’s total expenses increased 5.75% in FY11 over FY10. The two largest program functions in FY11 were Public Safety and General Government. The largest decreases were in also reflected in Public Safety and General Government functions. Public Safety decreased 7.7% [or $17.5 million] and the majority of the decrease was in personnel services.

financial-graph The County’s “business-type” operations include the Water and Sewer Fund, the Solid Waste Disposal Fund, Transit Fund and the Cobblestone Golf Course Fund. The business-type operations are designed to recover 100% of their costs, including debt payments and depreciation or 100% of their cash flow needs.




How the money is budgeted:

The fiscal year 2011 operating budget which was prepared in the fall and submitted to the Board of Commissioners at the end of fiscal year 2010, totaled $721.8 million. The most significant budgeted fund is the General Fund. The adopted budget for the General Fund was $328 million. The Board of Commissioners amended the General Fund budget throughout FY11. The most significant expenditure amendments were decreases to personal services as vacant positions were eliminated and part-time positions were reduced. In addition, road maintenance contracts were also reduce as more of the work was perform by County employees.



Capital Assets:
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Capital assets include property, plant, equipment and infrastructure assets (e.g., roads, bridges, sidewalks, and similar items). Capital assets are defined by the government as assets with an initial, individual cost of more than $5,000 and an estimated useful life in excess of two years. Such assets are recorded at historical cost or estimated historical cost. However the cost of capital assets are not recognized in the year the assets was purchased or constructed, but over the life of the assets as depreciation expense. Donated capital assets are recorded at estimated fair market value at the date of donation.



Long-term Debt:

As of September 30, 2011, Cobb County had $259.6 million in outstanding long-term debt, which does not include interest expense. Of this amount, $47.1 million comprises general obligation debt backed by the full faith and credit of the government and $212.5 million in revenue bonds. The County retired $19.4 million of outstanding bonds in FY11.



Requests for Information

For additional financial information or questions concerning any of the information provided in this report, please contact the Director of Finance / Comptroller, 100 Cherokee Street, Suite 400 Marietta, Georgia 30090-9610.

A Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is also available at http://finance.cobbcountyga.gov.

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Public Safety

officer help
In March 2011, the Cobb County Police Department received its second reaccreditation award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. In addition, the department was named a Flagship Agency, which represents the top 10 percent of accredited agencies. The department has been accredited since 2005 and CALEA has helped demonstrate our excellence and professionalism on an international level.

The Cobb County 911 Center received an Accreditation with Excellence Award for 2011. Out of 104 agencies, only three were selected for the award created by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. It sets the benchmark for public safety professionalism. The center earned the award based on proven excellence and leadership in the “development and implementation of contemporary policies and procedures and advocating strategies that enhanced public safety emergency communications.”

The police department has started the process of replacing all in-car camera systems for patrol vehicles with digital technology. Digital technology allows for more efficient recording, transmission and storage of videos as well as enhanced communications with the judicial system. Three precincts and a number of special units completed the conversion to the digital system in 2011.

Training and full implementation of a new Records Management System was completed in February 2011. This system dramatically changes the business process for Cobb Police to include paperless reporting, real time crime analysis and electronic transmission of citations to the judicial system. Electronic reporting has reduced the amount of time officers previously spent hand writing reports and citations, therefore translating into more time for proactive patrol. Another benefit of the system is the new link on the Cobb County Police Department Web site, cobbpolice.com, that includes the ability for residents to retrieve accident reports online and a crime mapping link for searching crime occurrences in their area.

Cobb County 911 collaborated with the Cobb Department of Transportation to provide DOT camera feeds into the 911 center. The monitors are strategically placed around the center so all dispatchers can watch media updates, track weather events and monitor the DOT cameras. Information gained can dramatically reduce response time, provide opportunity to prepare for changing weather patterns and confirm scene safety information for responding units. When there is a significant incident on a roadway, 911 supervisors can temporarily control the angle of the DOT camera in order to obtain information which will expedite emergency response and provide vital road condition and scene safety updates.

Cobb County successfully completed the reconfiguration of the radio system infrastructure related to the Federal Communications Commission mandate, known as “rebanding.” This reconfiguration was completed on Cobb primary 800MHz radio system shared with several agencies in metro Atlanta. Prior to this work effort, both public safety and commercial cellular carriers had similar radio frequencies. Often times this created harmful interference to public safety communications. The completion of this task drastically reduces this harmful interference. There was no cost to Cobb County.

Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services placed Fire Station 30 on Windy Hill Road in Marietta into service April 1 and it was designed with a similar footprint to the recently opened stations such as Station 9 in the Austell area and Station 11 in the northwest. The double drive-through bay has the capacity to house nine crew members. Presently, an engine, rescue, and air truck are assigned to the Windy Hill Road location. At a cost of $1.5 million, the 8,500 square foot brick building also houses the Air Lab with a new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus compressor.

Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services placed four new rescue units into service at the beginning of 2011 at a cost of $442,972.

The HazMat Team was awarded a $20,000 Homeland Security grant for the continuation and enhancement of the department’s hazardous materials mitigation efforts. Cobb and Douglas Public Health Department awarded Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services a grant for $31,200 to provide phone service that will enable firefighters and public health workers to communicate during health emergencies.

The Georgia Search and Rescue Team was awarded a $20,000 Georgia Homeland Security grant for replacement and repair of equipment to be used for regional emergencies.

More than 19,000 students – both public and private – participated in lessons at the Cobb County Safety Village, a scaled-down version of the community designed to provide important safety lessons to youth, during the past year. The Georgia Power Corporation made a more than $17,000 donation of equipment to be used for the furtherance of fire and rescue capabilities. In August, the Chic-Fil-A Corporation donated $7,000 toward the construction of a burn house at to be used to film a live low-heat fire scenario conducted by Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services.

In 2011, Cobb County Animal Control department launched an in-house Veterinarian Program, which reduces the cost of medical care for the animals and provides treatment for the police department’s K-9 Unit.

The Animal Control shelter acquired x-ray equipment as well as replaced and upgraded to a high-efficiency heating and air condition system throughout the facility. The department also began the process to select a new ventilation and cooling system for the kennel area.

Cobb Animal Control also expanded its interaction with the public and concerned residents with the creation of a coordinator position to work with state licensed rescue groups. As part of the new Police2Citizen online application, the public can now do an inquiry on the Web for lost animals and those available for adoption at Animal Control.

Cobb County 911 implemented the Guardian Tracking software program to create a paperless e-filing system for employee personnel files, performance evaluations, awards and disciplinary actions.

Cobb Emergency Management Agency was awarded a $250,000 grant in 2008 to enhance the Emergency Operations Center. The EOC grant was revised in 2011 to accommodate changes in the county budget. The EOC will be renovated to better accommodate needs during activation, including updated technology and equipment. These additions will enable Cobb County to maintain a superior level of service to residents during a crisis.

Cobb County completed the upgrade of nine sirens in 2011. Five older model sirens were replaced and four sirens received a complete gear box upgrade, which will decrease maintenance costs and increase effectiveness. The total cost was $138 282, including approximately $41,427 from the Emergency Management Planning Grant provided through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Cobb’s Community Emergency Response Team trained 95 new members in 2011. There are a total of 1,252 members who have been trained; the program continues to be the largest in the state. This year, six initial training courses and sixteen skills sustainment courses were offered to these volunteers.

In February 2011, the Cobb County Police Department set up a donation fund to specifically address the needs of the K-9 unit. The K-9 unit is a vital part of the department’s efforts to protect Cobb County. Police canines perform a broad range of essential functions, including patrol activities, narcotic detection and bomb detection. Donations to the fund will be utilized to assist the replacement of retired canines, help pay veterinarian expenses and assist with other costs associated with the dogs’ well-being.

The Cobb Police Athletic League Track team participated in its first spring track season. The team was made up of 75 children, ages 6 to 14, from the south Cobb area. They competed in eight county track meets; one regional meet and 11 participants qualified and competed in the state meet bringing home 10 medals. Police officers volunteered more than 500 hours to coach and mentor the track team during the spring season. Cobb PAL helps prevent juvenile crime and violence by providing civic, athletic, recreational and educational opportunities.

A 4-foot section of a twisted and charred steel beam from the World Trade Center was given to the Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services Department. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offered artifacts free of charge to public safety agencies throughout the nation. The artifact is currently on display at the Safety Village on Al Bishop Drive in Marietta.

animal control cat
 



Recreation

silver comet trail
Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs staff continues to plan for projects to be funded over the next several years under the 2011 Special Local Option Sales Tax approved by Cobb voters in March. Our project list includes work in 51 different parks and facilities all over the county. Receipts are estimated to be about $82 million for the projects. This work will result in needed upgrades and renovations to buildings, athletic fields, and facility infrastructure.

The general park maintenance staff provided personnel and equipment to clear roadways and parking lots for three ice storm and snow events, helping keep the public safe on the roadways. Parks staff also provided mowing crews to assist the Cobb Department of Transportation in mowing county rights of way.

In October 2011, the department completed four miles of mountain bike/pedestrian trail at the Corps property located on Old Stilesboro Road in Acworth. With the help of volunteers from the local Southern Off Road Bicycle Association, the mountain bike/pedestrian trail was completed with technical features designed to give biking enthusiasts a challenging ride. The entire trail, which is located south of the parking lot on Old Stilesboro Road, was completed with county staff and volunteers to keep costs to a minimum.

The Amateur Softball Association GOLD Southern Territory 18 and Under Championships were held in June at Lost Mountain Softball Complex. The competition brought 50 of the best softball teams in the southern territory to Cobb County in order to compete for a berth in the ASA National Championships.

The first Global Sports Association World Series was held in July at Lost Mountain Softball Complex. This new championship consisted of 44 teams competing in five age classifications with the West Cobb Girls Softball Association capturing the championship in the 14 and Under Division.

The Cobb Youth Football League was established in 2011 to provide a new opportunity for children to compete while wearing their high school replica uniforms. This first season had 47 teams representing six high schools.

A new tennis league was formed by the Cobb Tennis Department for county elementary school children. More than 20 schools participated in this new league during the fall utilizing all six Cobb tennis centers.
children photo
Cobb hosted the Girls and Boys National Open 16’s at Harrison Tennis Center in May. This event brought some of the best players and their supporters in from all around the country for this three-day event.

Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department’s cooperation and coordination with “Friends” groups continued to increase in 2011. These volunteer organizations provide valuable support to county efforts by raising funds towards the development and ongoing operations at several passive park areas around the county:

In 2011, Friends for the East Cobb Park and their private donors funded the installation of 10 new light poles and fixtures, completing the lighting of the main walking path around the park. The group also supplied materials and planning for a new pavilion overlooking the park from a vantage point near the main parking lot. The PRCA Construction Unit built the structure. Combined, these two projects represent a value of more than $60,000, provided to the park by this volunteer organization.

The Friends of Mabry Park is a newly-formed volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds for the future development of Mabry Park, near the intersection of Wesley Chapel Road and Sandy Plains Road in northeast Cobb. This 26.5 acre property was purchased using funding authorized under the 2006 Parks Bond Program. In 2011, the Friends funded the creation of a master plan for the future park. Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs staff guided the development of the master plan which involved a great deal of public input. Together, the group and Cobb Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs hosted two separate and very well attended “park preview days” at the property.

The Friends of Price Park is similarly involved in raising funds for the future development of Leone Hall Price Park on Stilesboro Road in west Cobb, also purchased under the 2006 Parks Bond. However, Price Park has a small parking lot and trail system, and is currently available for hiking and wildlife observation. Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the private group hosted two events at the park in 2011, a park preview day and a cleanup day.

The Friends of McDonald Park have funded the creation of a master plan for this 7.5 acre property across from City Hall in downtown Kennesaw. The planning process is currently underway and the group’s fundraising efforts will continue upon the plan’s completion.

For the third year in a row Cobb aquatic staff won the Georgia Recreation and Park Association Lifeguard Competition at Lake Oconee. In 2009 and 2010, Cobb won the competition, but this year was special. Each year Cobb County brings two teams to the competition and though they have had one team do well the past two years, 2011 brought a result no one could have envisioned - both Cobb teams finished tied as co-champions of the 2011 GRPA Lifeguard Competition.

Indoor Maintenance along with Parks Equipment Shop annually completes an average of 100 set-ups for events throughout Cobb. The staff works closely with all county departments and city agencies to coordinate events and festivals. The following are examples of such events completed in Fiscal Year 2011: Candy Cane Hunt, Make-A-Wish 5K Run, Soap Box Derby, Powder Springs Tree Lighting, East Cobb Tree Lighting and several ground breakings and ribbon cuttings.
 
In November, through a partnership with the National Park Service, an inventory at Hyde Farm was completed. Every artifact onsite was inventoried, cataloged and removed for storage to be displayed when the park opens to the public. The funding for the project was provided by NPS and the program took approximately four weeks.

Staff provided project management for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment replacement of the Civic Center and The Art Place Mountain View and for lighting and electrical replacement at administration offices and all recreation centers.

The department entered into a partnership with the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design. This allows the sharing of resources to explore management techniques and opportunities for Hyde Farm. The UGA College of Environment and Design created a cultural landscape lab to study Hyde Farm. This will be an ongoing relationship that will save the county money in long range planning.

The Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Construction Unit completed the exterior painting of two county-owned historic structures during the summer. The historic Mable House in Mableton and the Bullard House on Dallas Highway in west Cobb both benefited from carpentry repairs and a fresh coat of paint. The unit consulted with the county’s Historic Preservation staff to ensure that all historic guidelines were followed in the course of this work.
 



Services

library rows
Renovations began in July 2011 on the former Powder Springs Station shopping center to create the Cobb Senior Services Senior Wellness Center. Within 10 years, one in five residents will be eligible for this center, which will include a fitness studio, weight room, classrooms, teaching kitchen, café and a clinic for under-insured seniors aged 55 or older. It is estimated that public participation at this location will be 10,000 visits per month. Programming and services will be provided through partnerships with WellStar, Cobb Douglas Public Health, Vision Rehabilitation Services, Ridgeview Institute and the Marietta Lions Club. New furnishings will be paid for by local fundraising through the selling of bricks, benches and room naming rights. The ribbon cutting is slated for late summer 2012. Progress on the center can be viewed at cobbseniors.org.

Several large projects opened this year, including the courthouse and parking deck projects. With the help of our Property Management Department, these large projects were completed ahead of time and within budget. We were the first in the county to be awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for the new Superior Court Building.

Electronic auction of county surplus materials in Fiscal Year 2011 resulted in more than $323,150 in revenues. The Mail Services Department participated in a state mail services contract which will save an estimated $65,000 in postage in Fiscal Year 2012.

In April 2010, the Purchasing Department conducted a printing services cost analysis based on the county’s printing copies, paper, monthly lease, equipment maintenance and labor costs. The outsourcing of printing services initiated during Fiscal Year 2011 resulted in a savings of approximately $334,000.

Cobb Senior Services received grant funds to start a pilot program called Care Transitions designed to offer assistance to senior citizens aged 60 or older who have recently been released from the hospital. Seniors will receive a package of services to support their continued recovery and reduce the possibility of their return to the hospital for the same ailment within a 30-day period. Services include home delivered meals, homemaker services and transportation to follow-up medical appointments. The program is operated in collaboration with the Atlanta Regional Commission, Cobb Senior Services and WellStar Cobb hospitals. To register, call 404-463-3159.

Purchasing sites on the Internet and the Cobb Web were, with Communication’s assistance, revised and updated during the year. Additionally, Department of Transportation plan holder lists and addenda published on the site. The Web site continues to ensure that all bid documents are available for PDF download to the vendor community.services photo

The program “Generations: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” provides supportive services to eligible Cobb County grandparents age 60 and older, who are raising grandchildren or other minor relatives. This program is a partnership with Cobb Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department. Monthly group meetings often include community speakers who have resources for the families, while the children are enjoying supervised activities in the South Cobb Recreation Center. Call 770 528-5355 for more information.

Keep Cobb Beautiful was honored at the state and national level for its numerous community programs this past year. Both Keep Georgia Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful selected it as a first place affiliate. The Georgia Urban Forest Council presented it with its Outstanding Greenspace Plan grand award for its Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield tree planting program. Other Keep Georgia Beautiful awards included first, second and third places for the tree planting program as well as the two-day park cleanup and Adopt-A-Gateway program.

Keep Cobb Beautiful held more than 800 litter prevention events, more than 100 recycling events and more than 30 beautification events during the year. This work included the participation of more than 16,000 volunteers.

The library system became a partner in a national grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Service to develop Web resources that would make access to electronic government easier for library patrons. The Cobb County Public Library System, the only partner from Georgia, is working with other libraries across the United States on this project. Cobb library system’s E-Government Committee and Emerging Technology Advisory Group developed an e-government Web page that provides easier access to government information, forms and services.

The number of library system volunteers increased this year. More than 1,300 people volunteered at our libraries. These volunteers, who have many skills and talents, provided assistance by shelving library materials, working at book sales and helping with programs. During the year, the Friends of the Library, a library volunteer organization, held two book sales at Jim Miller Park. The events raised more than $60,000. The Friends’ special book sale which included comic books, antique books and special collectible items raised more than $4,000. This year an “ongoing” book sale was established at each library. More than $6,000 has been raised from these sales.

The library system hosted two exhibits from Kennesaw State University’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education. The “Parallel Journeys: World War II and the Holocaust through the Eyes of Teens” exhibit told stories from the perspective of young adults. The “Tuskegee Airman: the Segregated Skies of World War II” exhibit explored the history and heroism of the first African American pilots to fly combat during the war. Library staff participated in the KSU program on Family Bibles, a program that was part of KSU’s “When God Became English” exhibit. Library staff presented information on how the Bible is used in genealogical research.

The library system received national grants for special programs and services. “In a Nutshell: the Worlds of Maurice Sendak” was a national traveling exhibit made possible through a grant from American Library Association with the Charles H. Revson Foundation. The exhibit explored illustrations and books of the renowned author and illustrator, perhaps best known for his book “Where the Wild Things Are.”

The county continues to address cost cutting by eliminating printing in various ways. The payroll department offered to email employees who have direct deposit, avoiding the need to print and distribute thousands of stubs. The Water Department began offering customers the ability to sign up for eBill, saving the county printing and postage costs. Additionally, finance reports were distributed electronically to all departments.

Our Property Management group upgraded its energy management application. The application, known as EnergyCap, helps monitor energy usage and billing across the many buildings of the county. The newer system allows the county to automatically import all of utility bills into the system for analysis. By closely monitoring our energy use, we can find ways to decrease use and save the county money.

Property Management handles about 550 work orders every month recently had only seven more than 30 days old. The maintenance group is pioneering remote monitoring on outdoor condensing units with pressure monitoring systems to effectively reduce losses from copper thieves. This is especially effective with buildings that we have moved out of during some of the recent budget cutbacks. Serious savings have taken place with reductions in temperatures, water usage and water heating.

Fleet Department Installed enhanced vapor recovery at two fuel islands as part of an Environmental Protection Division mandate and added remote monitoring or two additional fuel islands to monitor fuel levels.

The Board of Elections and Voter registration reworked its delivery of state mandated poll worker training in order to combine curriculum from several required classes into one class, thus realizing a 25 percent savings in compensation expenses.

Property Management has made strides under its new makeup, utilizing more part-time staff with inmates in lieu of full-time and contract labor. It has shifted some of the resources to grounds maintenance as well and upgraded the capability of grounds maintenance equipment to improve its effectiveness.

The County Clerk’s Office has upgraded the LaserFiche document imaging system, which includes enhancements to make documents easier to find and view by the public. The department has added several years’ worth of agendas and minutes to the system.

In September, Cobb County became the last county in the state to discontinue transmitting unofficial election results from each polling place on election night. Ending this optional procedure eliminated 42 steps from the poll closing instructions and will result in continued time and cost savings in future elections.

The Georgia Public Library Service and Zoo Atlanta partnered to provide all state libraries with the Zoo Atlanta Family Pass for checkout to adults with valid library cards. Also, the state library system partnered with Georgia Department of Natural Resources to provide all its libraries with park passes for checkout to adults with valid library cards. These very popular programs made it possible for patrons to visit state parks and historic sites as well as to discover the value of wildlife and the importance of conservation while visiting the zoo.

Georgia Public Library Service selected the Cobb County system to host a “meet and greet” with the character made famous in Ludwig Bemelmans' beloved children's story, “Madeline.” Participating children heard stories in French and English.

Summer readers were rewarded with special performances by the Georgia Ballet and Theater in the Square. Cobb Energy Performing Art Centre made it possible for summer readers to participate in a drawing to attend a performance of the globally recognized performing group, The Wiggles.

Several county departments provided special programs for library patrons. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department provide multiple events including a very popular program on bugs. Extension Services conducted a program on the rain forest, and its 4-H club presented puppet shows. Fire and Emergency Services Department talked about fire safety. The police department’s Gang Prevention Taskforce held its own presentation. A program on global water conservation was presented by Cobb County’s Water System. Cobb’s E-911 conducted story times for children. The Communications Department edited the library system’s DVD concerning available services and library staff teamed up with Keep Cobb Beautiful to provide battery recycling containers in all libraries.
 



Transportation

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Cobb’s Department of Transportation completed the sixth and final year of the 2005 SPLOST. In the six years of the program, DOT has started construction on more than 94 percent of projects and completed construction on more than 84 percent of the 310 total projects in the program.

During the past year, 34 projects, valued at about $80 million, were bid for construction. Construction began on five thoroughfare and roadway safety projects, leaving only four of the original 44 projects left. Construction also began on four thoroughfare and eight roadway safety improvement projects. In addition, 48 streets, or about 32 miles, were resurfaced.


Some of the key 2011 projects from the 2005 SPLOST program:

Barrett Parkway
This $21 million project consists of 3.58 miles, exclusive of side streets, widening from four-lane divided roadway to six-lane divided roadway from approximately 1,800 feet south of Burnt Hickory Road to the intersection of Barrett Parkway and Cobb Parkway. This includes widening the existing bridge over Noonday Creek and a 10-foot asphalt multi-use trail as well as installation and modification of traffic signals and ATMS system. Scheduled completion for this project is summer 2013.

Cobb County’s Second Roundabout at County Line Road
This project consists of approximately five miles of safety and operational roadway improvements on County Line Road between Due West Road and Mars Hill Road. Improvements include reconstruction of five intersections, replacement of the bridge over Altoona Creek, replacement of the culvert north of Burnt Hickory Road and widening of the existing two-lane roadway with sidewalk and the construction of the county’s second roundabout at County Line Road at Burnt Hickory Road.

Big Shanty
This four-lane divided road which runs from Chastain Road east across Town Point Drive and Barrett Lakes Boulevard is nearing completion. It’s expected to be in use by spring 2012, two years after it began construction. Phase one of the Big Shanty Extension began construction as a part of the federal stimulus package. It will provide a new crossing under I-75 and will provide significant congestion relief to Chastain Road and give Kennesaw State University students better access to their university and surrounding amenities.

Lower Roswell Road
Lower Roswell Road (East) is a Safety and Operational Improvement project from Davidson Road to Timber Ridge Road which began construction in April. The project will add 4-foot bike lanes, 8-foot asphalt trail and 5-foot sidewalks for the entire length of the project. Left-turn lanes and right-turn lanes are provided where warranted. The intersection of Lower Roswell Road and Timber Ridge Road will be the location of the county’s third roundabout in Cobb County. The construction should last 18-24 months.

Windy Hill-Macland Road Connector
Construction for this $51 million SPLOST project was completed in the summer with a ribbon cutting event held in August. This project was designed to alleviate stop and go traffic on the Powder Springs/Austell Road corridors by adding an additional two-mile stretch of roadway for west Cobb travellers to reach U.S. Highway 41 and Interstate 7 and has vastly improved connectivity and travel times for these commuters.



metro sales tax graph Design for the new paratransit facility at the Cobb Community Transit Multi-Use Transit Center is complete. This facility, which will be housed at the main hub of CCT near the Marietta Transfer Center, is expected to begin construction in early 2012. It is being constructed to accommodate paratransit reservations, scheduling and dispatch, certifications, as well as employee and bus parking. Cobb County Senior Services will occupy space and operate the Senior Services Transportation Program from this facility and the Senior/Disabled Voucher Programs will also operate from here.

Breeze Card machines were installed in all three major Cobb Community Transit transfer stations at Acworth, Cumberland and Marietta giving riders the opportunity to purchase cards and add value to existing cards. These cards offer an easy way to pay for riding CCT.

The facility will include a “learning center” for 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 encourage them to transition from using paratransit service to the less costly fixed route service.

In 2011 the Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field completed realignments of the south parallel taxiway and expanded the south apron. The realignment of the south taxiway allowed the new instrument landing system glideslope antenna to be activated allowing aircraft to land in poor weather conditions. The south apron expansion has provided more area for the aircraft to maneuver on the once congested apron. This project was funded primarily with nearly $3 million in federal and state grants.

The Cobb Department of Transportation successfully completed a year long effort to develop a Comprehensive Service and Marketing Plan for Cobb Community Transit which focused on evaluating and identifying needed improvements for existing local and express bus routes and paratransit services, as well as assessing opportunities for improving cost-effectiveness and increasing revenues. The study also developed short-range plans for improving existing services and supporting a possible future high-capacity transit project.

The Cobb County Department of Transportation was competitively awarded $1.36 million in federal funds to conduct an Alternatives Analysis study in the U.S. Highway 41/Interstate 75 corridor between Acworth and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Arts Center Station. This corridor would link the MARTA’s transit network with key Cobb County destinations, including the Cumberland and Town Center Area Community Improvement Districts, Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University, as well as numerous large shopping centers and Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The corridor would also link all four county commission districts and the cities of Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth.

The department achieved 100 percent federal funding in the amount of $3.9 million and initiated a project to expand our Adaptive Traffic Control System, the second largest system of its kind in the nation, to add 75 traffic signals in the greater Town Center area. Cobb County’s ATCS will include 159 traffic signals and utilize computer systems to provide real-time traffic signal timing adjustments to reduce traffic delays and improve mobility in our highest traffic activity centers, the greater Cumberland/Galleria and Town Center areas, where unpredictable traffic conditions routinely occur.

DOT achieved 100 percent state funding and completed initial installation of a Bluetooth travel time monitoring system at 19 locations in the greater Town Center area including county arterial roads Cobb Parkway, Barrett Parkway and Chastain Road. The system provides data for real-time system performance review and to enhance traveler information systems including a real-time congestion map. This will be used for incident management and to measure effectiveness of the signal timing systems to reduce traffic delays and improve mobility.

The Cobb DOT Utilities Section issued 1,200 permits to public and private entities for utility work within the right-of-way with an average turn-around of three days. These permits generated fees totaling approximately $163,815. Through the permit review and inspection process, employees provide a valuable service in monitoring work that affects the county’s roadways and infrastructure.

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Water System

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The Cobb County Water System was, once again, certified as AAA by the three major bond rating houses. It was one of only a handful of independently-funded agencies in the United States with this recognition.

For Fiscal Year 2011, the agency’s revenues from the sale of water and wastewater services exceeded budgeted inputs by about $2.7 million, although a portion of this was offset by reductions in system development fees. On the expense side, the agency achieved savings of approximately $4.2 million compared to the adopted budget.

The South Cobb Tunnel project proceeds within budget and is now projected to be completed about 12 months ahead of schedule. The excavation of the 27-foot diameter entry tunnel, varying in depth between 150 and 400 feet, was completed in March. The lining process is well underway. The tunnel is anticipated to become operational during the summer of 2013.

The upgrade of the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility is intended to allow that facility to continue to meet more restrictive discharge requirements. Work includes the provision of final filters and an additional secondary clarifier, as well as improvements to the control system. The project is substantially complete with close-out expected in early 2012.

Chastain Meadows Regional Detention Facility became fully operational in July 2011. This project is intended to lessen the effects of storms on downstream properties along Noonday Creek by reducing channel degradation and flooding frequency. The facility is a 600 acre-foot floodwater storage area surrounded by a 28 foot high, 1,100 foot long earthen embankment dam in north-central Cobb.

After the historic flood in September 2009, water system staff set goals of identifying damage and working closely with FEMA staff to provide appropriate documentation for each project and obtain reimbursement. This is an ongoing effort made more difficult by reductions in federal and state funding. To date, Cobb has been able to assist homeowners in qualifying 84 damaged residences for assistance.

In the area of public education and outreach, the Watershed Stewardship Program in conjunction with the Stormwater Division created the video series “Eco-Logical…Tips to Reduce Your Footprint” featuring various pollution prevention topics to help improve water quality throughout Cobb County and surrounding watersheds. This series helps residents become more aware of how their actions could impact water quality and presents simple ways to reduce their ecological footprint. The “Eco-Logical” video series topics cover: pets, FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease), storm drains, outdoor landscapes, indoor chemical use, rain gardens, local and organic foods, detention ponds and illegal dumping/easements.

Staff also worked with other jurisdictions to provide insight on successfully managing a utility program, including overall watershed stewardship, environmental compliance, water efficiency, stormwater management and flood control measures.

In addition, the Watershed Stewardship Program had more than 8,100 participants, almost 4,000 volunteer service hours and more than 800 training and programming hours. The Water Efficiency Program has reached more than 9,300 students and 3,000 adults with direct education programs.
In an effort to approve convenience, Cobb Water System now offers the option of electronic billing to all customers. The county saves money by reducing printing and mailing charges. Electronic billing also helps preserve natural resources and is consistent with the county’s environmentally-friendly efforts.

The incorporation of radio read technology with large commercial meters was implemented and has produced cost savings and improved safety and efficiency. Previously, reading large commercial meters took six days. Using the new technology, reading them can be completed in about 12 hours.

Cobb County was honored as national 2011 WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year (Large Utility) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This award was in recognition of its extraordinary efforts promoting water efficiency in 2011.

Platinum Awards were also received for 10 consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Northwest Water Reclamation Facility and six consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Noonday Water Reclamation Facility. South Cobb and R.L. Sutton Water Reclamation facilities were honored with Gold Awards for compliance in 2010.