Cobb County Government

Board of Commissioners


FROM THE CHAIRMANalt

Tim Lee
Cobb Commission Chairman

The past year has been better for us than I would have expected. And even as we continue to get good news this year, we are poised and ready to move forward into 2013. We will seize every opportunity that presents itself in order to maintain and keep this community as great as its reputation.

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

In 2011, I made a commitment to balance the county’ budget and provide property tax relief at the first opportunity. This past year, commissioners approved the initial step in this effort. We will reduce our current millage rate from 7.72 mills to 7.52 mills. Current estimates are that a .20 decrease each year during the next four years and a .10 decrease in the fifth year will enable us to return to 6.82 mills. We will do this with a continued focus on providing an efficient and effective level of government services.

Our 2011 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax has already started almost half of the 170 transportation projects planned. This puts the program well ahead of schedule. For instance, we’ve completed 15 construction projects, although we had only planned to have five done by this time.
Most recently, the commission approved numerous upgrades to the technology Cobb County Department of Transportation uses to manage traffic and make everyone’s drive easier. It’s just one of many ways that we maximize every expenditure and make every cent count.

Our fiscal conservatism is reflected in our consistent “Triple A” for our General Obligation bonds since 1997 from the three major rating agencies. This places Cobb in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide and puts us in the best possible position to seize the moment for continued improvement of our community.

I ask that you join with myself, commissioners and county employees to help make our combined efforts have an impact for the betterment of Cobb County. Together, we can make the best possible difference.



DISTRICT COMMISSIONERSalt

Helen Goreham
District One Commissioner

Cobb County and District One have seen ever-increasing progress in economic development and the services we are able to deliver to the community this past year. This has resulted in a quality of life difficult to match in the metro region. In our district, we’ve seen the completion of several single family subdivisions. Thanks to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, we were able to complete the Big Shanty connector, bringing traffic relief to the Town Center and Kennesaw State University areas. We opened the Senior Wellness Center in Marietta, bringing needed services to residents. At our Safety Village, we have also begun providing classes to our senior citizens. Sponsorships from businesses such as Metro Atlanta Ambulance and UPS have helped us continue to add to the village, and thereby continue the safety education of our youth. For our part, we’ve continued to streamline government operations and make it more cost efficient. I now serve on the county’s compensation committee, which was formed based on the recommendation of the Citizens Oversight Committee. I pledge to you that I will continue to serve your interests by keeping costs down and government responsive to your needs.



altBob Ott
District Two Commissioner

If there’s one meeting I always look forward to having, it’s the town hall meetings held in District Two. They allow me to meet with you face-to-face and hear your concerns. I believe this is the best way to share information about happenings in the county that can impact you and the best way for me to get information about what you believe needs to be done in our district. A lot of great things have happened in our part of the county during the past year. For example, the roadwork around Sope Creek Elementary was improved and this will impact the lives of both the children who learn there and the families who will use it to their benefit every day. It was made possible by Cobb’s willingness to work with the community in a true partnership and maintaining communications between the county, neighbors and school officials. Meanwhile, there has been about $500 million worth of development across the district from Vinings and Smyrna to Cumberland and into East Cobb, and we can expect some exciting new projects to be built here in the near future. I believe such efforts will continue to improve our quality of life and, by extension, our county. I look forward to working with you this next year to continue to build upon the positives our district achieved during 2012.



altJo Ann Birrell
District Three Commissioner

We are grateful for and proud of our many accomplishments in 2012. We have engaged residents, a committed County staff and a second-to-none business community. We implemented the Canton Road Redevelopment Foundation, Inc. to spur redevelopment and investment opportunities along Canton Road. We are home to the new Home Depot Call Center, the Kaiser Permanente expansion around Town Center area and will be home to two Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets and the Movie Tavern. Additionally, the Keep it in Cobb Committee and the Purchasing Department hosted two "How to do Business with Cobb" seminars. While our business community expands, our residential base does also. We welcome new neighbors as 7 subdivisions are under construction. Current and new residents can travel a portion of the district with some ease thanks to our first roundabout in District 3. Mabry Park will be a jewel in the community, as we work hard to bring its master plan to life. This year, we introduced a weekly newsletter to inform citizens of road projects and community events in District 3. 2012 has been exciting and we anticipate many new opportunities in 2013. I am truly honored and humbled to be your public servant.



altWoody Thompson
District Four Commissioner

After 12 years of representing District Four, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you as a county commissioner. Even during difficult times, I have seen community residents and county government come together in a constant effort to improve south Cobb County. I am proud of our successes, especially the regional library we built in south Cobb, which I consider a centerpiece of the district. I also take great pride in the South Cobb Recreation Center on Six Flags Drive. The multi-million project became part of a campus that includes a building for the Boys and Girls Club of America, a new aquatic center and a location for our local health department. During my tenure, we’ve seen paving and other improvements to the Silver Comet Trail, the creation of the Mable House Amphitheatre and additional developments that have improved the quality of life for our residents. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for District Four and will join the ongoing effort as a private citizen to make it a better place.

County Manager

altFROM THE COUNTY MANAGER

David Hankerson
County Manager

There are many ways to measure success, and in Cobb County, our greatest indicator of how well we are doing is the quality and performance of our employees.

We have had a great year and county staff members have consistently committed themselves to the betterment of the community. From working with homeowners and neighborhood associations to Fortune 500 companies, our employees always strive to provide the highest level of service.

We have weathered some tough economic times and I am proud to say our staff has repeatedly stepped up by finding creative and more efficient ways to get the job done even as budgets have been reduced. They cut costs without cutting services, have been ready to adapt to new ideas and are quick to act when opportunities are present.

Good customer service is the expected standard for county employees. We pride ourselves in being responsive to public concerns and working diligently to resolve issues that impact your quality of life. It’s because our employees care about the outcome for the public that they do an excellent job for you.

Economy


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The Home Depot opened its new customer support center in the Town Center area and will create 700 new jobs by the year 2015. From this new facility the company will support its growing online business through email, live chat, calls and sales support. Other new company relocation and expansion announcements this year include Novelis, Talenti Gelato, Alorica, Manhattan Associates, Infosys and Kaiser Permanente. The combined total of new jobs created from these developments is approximately 1,650alt.

Our fiscal conservatism is reflected in our consistent “Triple A” for our General Obligation bonds since 1997 from the three major rating agencies. This places Cobb in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide and puts us in the best possible position to seize the moment for continued improvement of our community.

Construction of 100,000 square feet of new hangar space at Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field is nearly complete and will provide additional hangar opportunities for corporate aircraft operators to base at the airport. The project was constructed at no cost to the county by Atlanta Executive Jet Center, a based operator at the airport.

During 2012, the Community Development Agency led a team of county staff in completing two major regulatory and policy initiatives: the state required update to the Comprehensive Plan and the Vinings Vision Plan. It also started a new policy initiate called the Northwest Cobb Land Vulnerability Analysis.

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 about traffic congestion and increased development intensity. These concerns produced this policy to help establish a series of transportation improvements, some land use guidelines, new trails and public spaces, and an effort to identify, promote and nurture the area’s positive attributes to help build sense-of-place and civic pride. After considerable public input and involvement, the strategy was approved by Board of Commissioners in July.

altThe Comprehensive Plan for Cobb County is the official policy document for elected officials, county staff, property owners and businesses about how Cobb County will grow over the next 20 years. It includes recommendations for actions, infrastructure investments and public services so we can ensure we are growing in a manner that maintains the excellent quality-of-life that our community expects. The State of Georgia requires two major updates to county and city comprehensive plans once every 5 years and once every 10 years. The 2012 5-year update was developed in a fiscally sound manner respecting the financial times we are in while striving to continue to meet the varying needs of the community.

The Northwest Cobb Land Vulnerability Analysis is a policy initiative involving land use, transportation, water and public health. The purpose of this initiative is to look at the growth challenges of the area, understand how these concerns impact land use, and finally to evaluate the current growth strategy to ensure it is adequate due to a number of changing conditions. Northwest Cobb is an area with some of the lowest intensity land uses in all of Cobb County largely due to Lake Allatoona, which is one of the region’s major drinking water resources.

Community Development Agency worked with the District Three commissioner and Economic Development on redevelopment needs on Canton Road. It also coordinated a number of joint code enforcement sweeps in targeted areas as well as successfully implemented Georgia Immigration Reform Act requirements into business license processes. And it oversaw a large increase in permitting and building activity.

The county, through its Community Development Block Grant/Neighborhood Stabilization Program Office and in partnership with Walton Communities, used approximately $4 million in NSP funding provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to complete a major renovation of a 236-unit apartment complex in the Austell area. This funding has been used to help Cobb stem the decline of home values as well as multi-family apartment complexes by acquiring and rehabilitating foreclosed properties in areas of greatest need and will allow many working individuals and families to become homeowners.

altCurrently there are two major transportation projects occurring that are intended to assist high growth areas in Paulding and Bartow Counties in accessing Interstate 75. Also, there is limited sewer availability and some concerns about the functionality of some of the aging septic systems in the area. These infrastructure challenges may impact existing and future businesses and property owners, so staff is proactively looking at land use and environmental needs. Public meetings will occur in early 2013 to obtain feedback from the community and a draft will be presented to the Board of Commissioners in the first quarter of 2013.

Cobb County, a designated “camera-ready” community by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, has seen its film permit activity increase by approximately 53 percent in 2012. 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.

In 2011, the Tax Assessors’ Office for the first time mailed Assessment Notices to all 250,000 owners of taxable real estate in Cobb County. While this resulted in a record number of appeals in 2011, that number dropped off significantly in 2012. Printing and mailing of these notices using a contractor in 2012 saved the county more than $12,000 and countless hours in improved efficiency.

A Cobb County delegation lead by Chairman Tim Lee traveled to Seoul, Korea to visit our Sister City Seongdong-Gu in October. The delegation was comprised of government officials, chamber of commerce officials and educators (including the superintendent of a local school district). Through this initiative we have enhanced our cultural, educational and business development ties with our Sister Caltity.

Judicial


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During 2012, the Cobb County Sheriff's Office focused its efforts on streamlining operations and completing several on-going projects. Despite a significant level of employee turnover, our staff worked hard to reduce costs and maintain a consistently high level of service.

The planning and implementation of a new Jail Information Management System was completed this year. The system manages data related to every aspect of housing the county’s inmate population as well as maintaining required records for the more than 38,000 inmates booked into the jail every year. The new application replaced a system that is more than 20 years old and provides a significantly greater capability to automate record keeping and improve efficiency.

As part of the 2005 SPLOST funded jail expansion, the Sheriff's Office added an inmate video visitation system. This system allows family members to visit with inmates by video conference from a Visitor Center at the front of the complex rather than physically coming into the jail. This makes visits easier and more pleasant for families, reduces contraband from being introduced into the jail and eliminates the need to add space to accommodate visits within the facility.

In 2012, this system was expanded to the Courthouse Complex in order to allow attorneys to conduct video visits with jail clients. This technology allows attorneys to make use of time that would otherwise be wasted waiting on court appearances and has the effect of moving cases more quickly through the criminal justice system.

The Sheriff's Office has continued to work closely with the courts and Property Management on the design and construction of the new Juvenile Court facility. The relocation of Juvenile Court to the downtown Justice Complex will bring all of the courts into one area and result in significant efficiencies from both an operational and security perspective.

The Clerk of Superior Court Office completed several milestones in 2012, including completing the upgrade of the real estate computer system, recycling 20 tons of paper in closed cases and freeing that storage space by saving the material electronically, distributing court calendars electronically to pertinent parties and conducting employee cross training to enhance customer service. Meanwhile, Project “Lost Victims” paid out $975,000 in restitution. Overall, the Clerk’s Office is a leader in records management with images and accessibility via its Web site and is recognized nationwide for the innovative leadership and customer access.

Magistrate Court is consistently searching for ways to implement new technology and improve the quality of service to our citizens and fellow agencies. In January, the Warrant Division’s Electronic Warrant Interface System was modified to coordinate with the county’s Record Management System and assist law enforcement agencies by allowing them to import information from their incident reports. Creating the ability to interface this information minimizes the risk of errors and allows officers to secure warrants faster; facilitating a quicker return to the road. With the introduction of the RMS system to Magistrate Court, the Criminal Division has access to county citation and ordinance violation information several days earlier, granting quicker access to key information.

Magistrate Court currently maintains OnBase document imaging software and, during the spring, access was granted to allow interested departments to retrieve and reference public documents. This cooperative process saves all parties involved time and enhances interdepartmental resources.

The Civil Division is currently utilizing a QR barcode and scanning solution, reducing manual data entry of nearly 35 percent of 20,000 dispossessory cases. Plans are in place to grow that percentage in 2013.

Probate Court continues to increase online availability of records. We have implemented a new procedure that requires documents to be scanned immediately upon filing. We continue to work to make all historical records available at http://documents.cobbcounty.org/probatecourtinquiry/. Also, we have added several Cobb County Probate Court supplemental forms to our Web site for customer convenience.

In January, Probate Court implemented the new Weapons Carry Permit application process that provides permit holders with heightened security and protections.
Probate Court will begin accepting credit card payments in 2013. In addition, we will begin accepting online requests and payments for certified copies of marriage license applications and marriage certificates.

The State Court Clerk, with the assistance of the Information Services Department and in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services, implemented an electronic submission process to suspend driver licenses of those who have failed to appear in court. This project has improved the accuracy and efficiency of records and results in savings for the county through reduced postage, printing and envelope costs as well as employee labor.

In January, the Cobb County Solicitor’s Office moved the Domestic Violence Diversion Program from Cobb County Magistrate Court to Cobb County State Court in order to handle those cases in a more efficient manner. In partnership with the five State Court Division II Judges, the Solicitor’s Office also began handling jury trials in traffic court to expedite dispositions on pending criminal cases. Also, the Solicitor’s Office added the prosecution of cases under a newly enacted law for motorists who pass a school bus discharging students. The Solicitor’s Office is also working to expand the Electronic Subpoena Program in order to ensure timely and efficient witness notification for court appearances.

Public Safety


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During November, the Cobb County Police Department hosted an active shooter training exercise at Town Center Mall. The police department, Cobb Sheriff’s Department, Cobb County Emergency Management Agency, Kennesaw Police Department, Acworth Police Department, Kennesaw State University Police Department, Georgia Defense Force, Cobb Fire Department, Cobb County 911, Metro Ambulance Service and Town Center Mall Security Team participated in the training.

The training exercise was designed to test the abilities and skills of law enforcement officers in a realistic active shooter event. It was also used to test skills and procedures of Cobb County EMS first responders. The training exercise was the culmination of an intensive and lengthy training period where police officers developed and improved their skills in response to an active shooter event. Supervisors were also trained to become incident commanders and utilize their new skills to transition into a Unified Command with other law enforcement and EMS agencies.
In April, the Cobb Police Department Bomb Unit was awarded a grant, in the amount of $49,000, from the Department of Homeland Security to build capabilities that enhance homeland security. The funds will be used to purchase explosive ordinance equipment and Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives equipment.

The FY2011 Metro Atlanta Urban Areas Security Initiative Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives Equipment Project Award (UASI Grant) totaled $454,365 for Fire and Emergency Services. This includes radiological monitors for the Cobb Fire and Emergency Services Hazmat Team and a $300,000 decontamination trailer for the Special Operations Division.
Cobb County completed preventative maintenance on 73 sirens in 2012 to ensure functionality and identify any mechanical issues. The total cost was $18,250 and was paid for from the Emergency Management Planning Grant provided through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. EMA was awarded a Response and Recovery Grant in November 2012 and is in the process of totally replacing several older sirens, which will decrease maintenance costs in the coming year.

The police department entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Metro Atlanta UASI to standardize first responders on required equipment. UASI awarded the department equipment valued at $168,249 to protect first responders and provide decontamination equipment/resources during a disaster.

The police department finished replacing all in-car camera systems for patrol vehicles with digital technology. Digital technology allows for more efficient recording, transmission and storage of the video as well as enhancing communications with the judicial system. This completed a multi-year project to standardize all patrol and special operations vehicles with the digital system.
The K9 Unit received a single-purpose explosives ordinance detection canine from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to enhance bomb detection capabilities. The K9 Unit also acquired two replacements for canines that were retired in 2012.

The Cobb County Police Athletic League expanded in 2012 to include a football camp in addition to the track team. In June, Cobb PAL hosted a youth football camp at Wallace Park recreational fields. The goal was to provide children with a positive and enjoyable experience in which each player had the opportunity to develop new skills, gain confidence and learn life lessons regarding the importance of teamwork, responsibility, sportsmanship and discipline. The four day camp was divided in half offering the first two days for children 5-8 years of age and the last two days for children 9-12.

The second year of the Cobb PAL Track Team was a great success with 110 athletes competing on the spring track team and participating in 10 regular season meets, the county championship meet, the district meet and the GRPA state meet. All the runners participated in the county championship with the top three runners in each event qualifying for the district meet. Cobb PAL won 23 medals at the state meet. Cobb police officers volunteered more than 700 hours to the program from the last week in January through May 2012.

The Cobb County Police Explorers Post had 24 explorers (ages 14-21) participate in 2012. The Explorers competed in a number of competitions, winning first place overall at the Georgia State Championship in April and the Metro Atlanta Championship in October. Explorers participated in competitions in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and the national championships in Fort Collins, Colo., placing well in the team competitions. The explorers had more than 2,000 hours of community service for 2012.

Cobb County fire and Emergency Services purchased two new F-250 crew cab diesel trucks for battalion chiefs in northwest and southeast Cobb, two F-150 crew cabs for use as hydrant trucks and an E-250 cargo van for use as the logistics vehicle. Three new Pierce Engines, which cost $497,000 each, were funded with money from the 2011 SPLOST one percent sales tax.
In Fiscal Year 2012, the Fire Marshal’s Office collected more than $75,000 in revenue from citations. In the first full year of active enforcement, more than $50,000 was collected from fire lane parking citations written by the Fire Investigations Unit.

The Fire Marshal’s Office answered 334 fire code complaints. This is up 23 percent from the previous year and is an increase of 86 percent since 2008.
In FY2012, the Fire Marshal’s Office completed 14,234 fire inspections, plan reviews, and code enforcement activities that resulted in $465,000 of revenues. (This includes all citations, written by Fire Investigations for fire lane violations and unauthorized burning.)

In April, the Medical Operations Team was recognized by the Cobb BAR Association with the “Public Safety Officer of the Year” Award at its annual awards ceremony. This award is presented to an individual or team based on their contributions toward the improvement of public safety to the residents of Cobb County.

The Cobb Public Fire and Life Safety Education Division completed class instruction and student participation for 2012, totaling 53,247 students and 1,859 classes taught.

The Cobb Police Department purchased 385 AR-15 patrol rifles under the 2011 SPLOST program for a total of $500,000. Officers are in the process of training with their individually assigned rifles.

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 renovation was finished in June 2012 complete with acoustical ceiling tiles and wall panels for sound quality, as well as a kitchenette to better accommodate needs during activation. To improve functionality in an emergency or activation, new work stations were built and the agency maintains new laptops that are ready to use continually. Security cameras were added to the Emergency Operation Center and the Headquarters building for safety purposes. These additions allow Cobb County to maintain a superior level of service to residents during a crisis.

Cobb’s Community Emergency Response Team trained more than 100 new members in 2012. There are a total of 1,353 members who have been trained and the program continues to be the largest in the state. This year, six initial training courses and more than 15 skills sustainment courses were offered to these volunteers, including three Step Drill exercises. They also participated in a number of events, such as Relay for Life, Marietta Public Safety Expo and a large-scale Active Shooter exercise.

This year projects were selected to provide a direct impact on the efficiency of emergency communications services and operations but reflect a conservative budgetary agenda.

Severe weather events can occur at any time of day or night. Cobb County 911 has launched a Weather Warning Service as an extension of the current CodeRED notification service to augment the outside weather sirens. To participate, businesses and residents in Cobb County may choose to sign up via the Cobb Web by providing up to two telephone numbers and their geographic location. The system does not text, but provides a 24/7 automated pre-recorded call-out initiated by the National Weather Service with no intervention from Cobb 911. The addition of the Weather Notification call service is $7,000 annually.

The Motorola Premier Computer Aided Dispatch System in the 911 center expedites the call taking process. It automatically distributes a call to the dispatcher handling the police beat, fire station or support agency closest to the location of the call. The system assists dispatchers in all functions. Call information, unit recommendation and an interface with computers in officers’ cars help coordinate emergency response and ensure officer safety. Premier CAD interfaces with multiple systems that provide the dispatcher with mission critical information such as the 911 phone system, the mapping system and the emergency medical instructions program. Cobb 911 opted to upgrade the Premier CAD to the Premier One CAD at a cost of $1.9 million without compromising features. This was a considerable savings and cut training time over purchasing a new system that is twice as expensive.

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Recreation

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The Cobb Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department had a busy and productive 2012 serving the residents of Cobb County. Some of the highlights:

PRCA has greatly improved access and safety at East Cobb Park with the installation of a new sidewalk and set of concrete steps. The backstage “fly” system at Jennie T. Anderson Theater was replaced, improving its operation and safety. Planning is complete and construction will begin soon for the replacement of deteriorated cross-tie retaining walls at Fullers Park, Wallace Park and Lions Park.

Cobb County is proud to have hosted the 20th Annual Winter Indoor Games of the Special Olympics in 2012. The ceremony was held at the Cobb Civic Center and provides inspiration to families from all over Georgia.

Aided by the Recreation Board, the department established LIVE Cobb, Inc., a not-for-profit foundation created to raise funds to enhance the growth and development of county parks, recreational facilities, cultural arts facilities and programs.

The PRCA Natural Resource Management Unit planned and hosted an Outdoor Festival at Allatoona Creek Park (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property in Acworth). More than 200 people enjoyed demonstrations of hunting, archery and fishing, as well as birding and bicycling activities on the 1,450-acre property.

Again this past year, PRCA’s Harrison Tennis Center hosted the Girls and Boys National Open 16’s Tournament, which attracts some of the nation’s best players and their supporters from across the country.

PRCA continues to work closely with “Friends” groups – organizations of volunteers that help support and fund development and ongoing operations at several passive park areas around the county.

Cobb County PRCA’s efforts are supported by 77 volunteer associations who work hand in hand with departmental staff to provide some of the best recreational, sports and cultural programs and activities in the region. These continuing efforts serve to greatly enhance the quality of life for the residents of Cobb County.

Services


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Powder Springs Station Senior Center was completed in August 2012 which included the use of approximately $1.3 million in federal grants from the Health-Related Services Administration. The new Cobb Senior Wellness Center opened its doors to the public in August at its Powder Springs Street location in Marietta. The center includes a senior community clinic. The new center also includes facilities for the county Meals On Wheels program, which helps hundreds of homebound seniors daily, as well as a teaching kitchen, a fitness studio and weight room. The accompanying senior clinic provides free, preventive healthcare for eligible seniors who are uninsured Cobb residents aged 55 to 64. It concentrates on services that are not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, such as vision and hearing screenings. WellStar has supplied all equipment, staff and operational support for the senior clinic. In addition to the clinic, the center offers nutrition education, exercise classes, seminars on mental health issues and opportunities for socialization through the performing and visual arts. Renovations of the building were also partially funded through the 2011 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The building at the former Powder Springs shopping center also houses the Marietta Neighborhood Senior Center and Cobb Senior Services administrative offices.

Information Services staff developed new geographic information system mobile maps for obtaining parcel and zoning information. These maps, which have been available for many years on our regular Web site, are now accessible using smart phones or tablets. Now home buyers, real estate agents and developers can easily look up information about a property while still at the location. They can look up tax assessment information, zoning classifications and the county municipal code. This feature is available at no cost and compatible with both Android and Apple iOS devices. It even allows a user not familiar with the area to find what parcel they are looking at. Likewise, many of our existing Web sites are updating their looks and services.

The Cobb County Tax Commissioner's Office launched its new Web site and IVR payment system. When you visit cobbtax.org, you will see a brand new look. The new Tax Commissioner site also supports mobile technology for smart phones and tablets, provides self-service abilities such as online address changes and a payments portal for taxpayers with quicker updates of payment transactions. Best of all, the convenience and transaction fees charged by the payment processor have been lowered.

Cobb County’s Government Access Channel TV23 transitioned to tapeless video and audio acquisition, which resulted in far better quality while saving money on not having to buy tape for shooting and storage. We increased coverage of community events by adding the Veterans Day parade and bringing back East Cobber parade to our lineup of event coverage. The station added new monthly shows for departments, while increasing support for courts and public safety by assisting them with criminal cases.

Cobb County Elections and Voter Registration department participated in the development and testing of the State of Georgia’s new voter registration system. Cobb is one of the eighteen counties scheduled to pilot the new Web-based platform in December 2012. The system will be implemented statewide in 2013 and is projected to bring many efficiencies and operational cost savings to both the county and the state.

The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s office received several upgrades and additions to the administrative offices, laboratory and morgue during the last two years. Improvements for the administrative offices and laboratory were initiated in 2011. The administrative office construction was completed in 2011. However, the laboratory saw even more improvements in 2012, during the upgrades and additions for the morgue and new garage.

The Medical Examiner’s Office obtained Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds of $180,000 for additions and upgrades to the morgue/refrigeration unit. This project included expansion of the existing morgue, construction of a concrete pad/driveway and a metal building to cover the morgue and provide a much needed garage.

A metal building was constructed to provide cover for the morgue and a garage for loading and unloading in privacy. Before this improvement, transfers had always been performed in the open within the public eye. This privacy provides a higher level of respect and dignity to the deceased.

The laboratory received Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds of $70,000 for a new air handling and exhaust system. The original air system and exhaust system had been properly maintained, however, was inadequate by today’s standards. Odor control and temperature control during an examination was challenging. The modern air system and new exhaust system now supply a consistent temperature and up to 400cfm of air exchange. This has been a remarkable improvement.

The Property Management Department moved into the second space at Powder Springs Station this year. This move combines the department along with its preparation and staging areas into one efficient space, all on one floor.

Several renovation projects were completed in 2010, including: multiple stimulus-funded HVAC and lighting energy savings projects, Medical Examiner’s Office improvements, fire station fire sprinkler system improvements, Tag Office safety improvements and the Safety Village Depot.

Our Property Management renovation group is now at the beginning of the largest and most complex group of projects ever constructed. They are in the midst of the Senior Services Phase One at Powder Springs Station; pursuing such, on time and within budget to be finished early next spring. This will be followed by a six-year string of SPLOST projects starting with the new Juvenile Court facility to be located in the former Superior Court north building.

The Property Management maintenance group handles about 550 work orders every month and at this time has only seven that are 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 has realized place with reductions of temperatures, water usage and water heating.

Property Management’s custodial/services group has made strides under its new makeup, utilizing more part-time staff with inmates in lieu of full time and contract labor. They’ve shifted some of the resources to grounds maintenance as well and upgraded the capability of the department’s grounds maintenance equipment to improve effectiveness. The outlook and morale for this group will be even more improved as replacement employees are now coming on board. Full utilization of the entire staff will allow us to not only take care of priorities, but also fan out to give greater services and some event set-ups for our customers.

In 2012, Fleet Management Department developed and implemented a county-wide Class C Training Program mandated by Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The program provided training on the proper use of county fuel facilities and emergency response information. The program also concluded with a program content quiz taken by more than 3,000 employees. Effective planning and deployment using several different mediums allowed the program to be completed ahead of schedule.

Fleet Management will be looking for more innovative ways to efficiently manage the county’s vehicle fleet in Fiscal Year 2013. We will be evaluating an onboard vehicle fueling module, that uses RFID technology to communicate information to our fuel islands. This system will be used to transmit vehicle odometer reading, vehicle trouble codes and grant access to county fueling facilities. If successful this will automate the fueling process, eliminate mileage input errors and short cut mechanical breakdowns before they happen.

The Information Services Department created linked information on county maps that offers up-to-date information on 2011 SPLOST projects. This helps keep residents informed as to how their tax monies are being spent.

On July 1, the State of Georgia implemented a new jury selection process that widened the pool of jurors and created a new process for juror selection. The Information Services department worked for months leading up to the implementation date ensuring a smooth process and adherence to the new law.

The Police Department’s ability to access and process information effectively is largely dependent on wireless communication. This year, the Police department and Information Services department teamed up to install “The Rocket” in all patrol cars that makes wireless communication more reliable and secure for all data transmissions including wireless downloads of the in-car camera system files.

This year, the Police and IS Departments expanded the use of their records management system to include the Police2Citizen portal that allows the public to query public information about accidents and criminal incidents. This portal also allows citizens to pull accident reports from the Internet as well as look for missing pets.

The Information Services department has saved thousands of dollars by re-negotiating software licensing costs and by switching to a different level of Oracle. Additionally, we have expanded AT&T’s MetroE Internet connections to our all of our fire stations. This will offer faster Internet connections for accessing fire information along with saving the county money on monthly charges.

This past year, the Water System, with the assistance of the Information Services Department, implemented a fast pay solution allowing water customers to pay online with information from their bill without having to sign up for an online account.

Working with the Tax Assessor’s Office, the Information Services department added six municipalities’ tax exemption information to the Annual Tax Assessment Notice. While not required by state law this additional information was provided at the request of the Tax Assessor’s Office to better inform citizens of their estimated property tax liability.

In 2012, the Cobb County Public Library System reached out to bring awareness of the value and importance of libraries in the community. The library staff went beyond the walls to provide programs and services to Cobb citizens. “Geek the Library,” a library advocacy initiative sponsored by OCLC with a grant from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provided the library system with free bookmarks, posters, T-shirts, bags and stickers to distribute to people in the community. The “Geek” campaign enabled staff in their “geek” shirts and citizens to engage in conversations about library programs and services. The staff “geeked” or talked about things people liked or had an interest in at various events. “Geek the Library” made it possible for library staff to reach out to more than 10,000 people in the community.

Library card sign-up campaign was a huge success this year. The library system registered 4,000 new cards. This number was up by 150 new cards from the 2011 campaign. More than 300,000 Cobb residents have library cards. Many of the new cards issued this year were to new families in the community; however, residents of the new Sterling Estates Senior Living Community and parents of children in the Head Start program took advantage of the library card campaign to register for cards too. The steady increase in the number of new cardholders was an indication of how important libraries are to so many of our residents.

With the senior population being one of the fastest growing in Cobb, the library system promoted special programs and services of interest to seniors. Throughout the year, library staff conducted book talks at Enrichment of Life Movement program for adults, primarily seniors. Monthly, staff talked about books and a variety of topics to 20-25 senior participants. From talking about mysteries to hearing steel drum music played by a staff member, the quality of life of ELM participants was enriched by this special outreach activity. The library system also partnered with organizations like AMLAS, the Atlanta Metro Library for Accessible Services, to provide information to its staff members about the services and materials available to patrons of all ages who are unable to read standard print material due to visual or physical disability.

Digital services were expanded and enhanced this year. Under the leadership of the Digital Manager, the Technology Steering Committee increased accessibility to print and digital resources. The staff provided greater access to emerging technologies appropriate for the needs of the diverse community. Many online programs and services, such as online summer reading program for young adults and adults, additional computer classes and an e-newsletter that has more than 13,000 readers, were offered to the community. Classes on using e-reader devices were introduced as well as tips on downloading materials to the devices.

New online databases were launched in 2012. Ed2go, a database that provides access to hundreds of instructor-led online courses covering such topics as creating web pages, accounting and grant writing, is a valuable resource that shows significant cost-savings to residents. Since the library launched the program in November 2012, Cobb residents have registered for more than 350 courses. These courses cost around $180 each at local colleges and universities; by offering the courses for free to Cobb residents and library cardholders, the Cobb County Public Library System has saved residents more than $60,000 after only a month of availability.

The library has also expanded its database offerings to include access to databases such as Learning Express, an interactive online database that features more than 700 practice tests including GED and firefighter test prep. The job and career accelerator provides personalized, step-by-step job search assistance ­­– from exploring and matching suitable occupations from more than 1,000 detailed occupation profiles to finding available jobs from a database of more than 5 million up-to-date job postings. Morningstar Investment Research Center offers analysis on 1,700 stocks, 2,000 mutual funds and 300 exchange traded funds. Demographics Now offers a variety of simple, ready-to-use demographic data reports useful for small business owners, marketing professionals.

With assistance from volunteers and friends, the library system conducted two very successful book sales during the year. In 2012, the library raised more than $60,000. The ongoing book sale, established in 2012, raised more than $30,000. The library system’s book sales remain an important source of revenue to support the development of the library system’s collections – print and digital.

Support from community organizations and institutions helped CCPLS reach a few goals. The Cobb County Library Foundation donated $2,500 toward the purchase of a laptop computer dedicated to accessing government information, forms and services. Cobb EMC donated $500 to purchase book bags for the library system’s book club kits and an iPad for summer reading. The Friends of the Library donated $3,500 for the purchase of an electronic devices kit used for patron and staff instruction.

 

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SPLOST


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Cobb County’s Department of Transportation has continued working towards completion of the 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which included a six-year collection period that ended December 2011. DOT has started construction on more than 96 percent of the projects and completed construction on more than 93 percent of the 310 projects in the program.

For 2012, nine projects from the 2005 SPLOST, valued at nearly $8.3 million, were bid for construction with 11 projects remaining.

Key projects underway this past year from the 2005 SPLOST program:

Barrett Parkway
Construction continued in 2012 on this $21 million thoroughfare improvement project that widens 3.6 miles of Ernest Barrett Parkway from four lanes divided to six lanes divided from south of Burnt Hickory Road to Cobb Parkway (US Highway 41). Other project improvements include a ten-foot asphalt multi-use trail, a new pedestrian bridge, and traffic signal upgrades. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2013.

Floyd Road
Construction on the $5.5 million Floyd Road safety and operational improvement project began in August 2012. The project will widen 1.1 miles of Floyd Road, from Clay Road to Hicks Road, to a standard four lanes divided consisting of two 11-foot wide travel lanes in each direction and a 20-foot wide grass median. A ten-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.

Jamerson Road/Wigley Road
This $12 million safety and operational improvement project widened the 4.9 mile Jamerson Road /Wigley Road to four lanes divided from Canton Road to Lee Waters Road, and to three lanes from Lee Waters Road to Sandy Plains Road. Other enhancements included sidewalks and turn lanes at key intersections. The project was substantially completed in October 2012.

Lower Roswell Road
Construction activities on Lower Roswell Road increased in 2012. 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 adds four-foot bike lanes, eight-foot asphalt trail and five-foot sidewalks for the entire length of the project. Turn lanes will also be 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. Scheduled completion for this project is December 2013.

2011 SPLOST – Preserving Our Future
Collections for the four-year 2011 SPLOST began on January 1, 2012. DOT hit the ground running and is ahead of schedule for delivering projects in the 2011 SPLOST. In 2012, Engineering/Design started on 93 of the 122 identified projects in the program. Construction has begun on 39 projects with 22 projects reaching completion.

Cobb Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department staff has gotten off to a great start in planning systemwide improvements for our parks and facilities in the 2011 SPLOST program. The PRCA SPLOST team meets on a weekly basis to assign duties and check on progress. The team also participates in monthly meetings with the other departments involved in SPLOST: Department of Transportation, Property Management and Public Safety, in order to coordinate projects and deliverables in a unified fashion. The PRCA SPLOST program is overseen and directed by the Recreation Board, a citizens’ committee appointed by the Board of Commissioners, and also reports to the SPLOST Oversight Committee on a regular basis.

The largest PRCA SPLOST project completed to date resulted in major improvements at the Mountain View Aquatic Center. The project included installation of a state of the art system to address air quality issues at the indoor natatorium, as well as repainting the interior, resurfacing both swimming pools and other improvements. A ribbon cutting ceremony for the re-opening was held in October.

The department continues to build relationships with the National Park Service and the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design to develop plans and cooperative efforts for the rehabilitation and preservation at Hyde Farm. SPLOST funding will help to support the improvements at the farm starting in 2013.

Contracts have been awarded for architectural and engineering design services for major park improvements at 11 parks. In all, PRCA will be completing SPLOST funded projects in 50 parks and facilities throughout the county.

Key 2012 transportation projects from the 2011 SPLOST program:

Holly Springs Road at Davis Road
This $400,000 intersection safety and operational improvement project removed an existing multi-way stop that caused severe delays, along with the expedited construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Holly Springs Road and Davis Road. This project was completed during summer 2012 and was the first project completed for DOT using the design-build delivery method.

Resurfacing
During 2012, the county awarded $18 million for six 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 537 streets (156 miles) within the County’s four commission districts. This represents a cumulative investment of $29.7 million in preserving county infrastructure.

Shiloh Road/Shallowford Road
Construction on the $11 million Shiloh Road/Shallowford Road safety and operational improvement project began in November 2012. 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 construction duration is estimated at two years.

Woodland Brook Drive
This $800,000 roadway safety and operational improvement project consisted of drainage improvements and culvert replacement along Woodland Brook Drive in the vicinity of Brandy Station Drive. This project was completed during summer 2012.

 

Transportation


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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 and present 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 a five-year program. The LCI Study recommended bicycle and 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.

In association with the Federal Transit Authority, Cobb DOT initiated the environmental assessment associated with the Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis study of the U.S. Highway 41/Interstate 75 corridor. The 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 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.

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 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.

Cobb County DOT led and completed the Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis . The AA studied transit needs and improvement alternatives, evaluated the feasibility for high capacity transit along the corridor and developed a locally preferred alternative. It 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 AA in December cleared the way for the next phase in the planning process: preparation of an environmental assessment.

The construction of the new Cobb Community Transit paratransit facility at the CCT Multi-Use Transit Center has started. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in May, and construction is on schedule and expected to be complete by spring 2013. This new facility will accommodate CCT paratransit operations, including paratransit reservations, scheduling and dispatch, as well as paratransit certifications. Cobb County Senior Services will occupy space and operate the Senior Services Transportation Program from this facility. The Senior/Disabled Voucher Programs will operate from this facility as well.

The paratransit 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 2012 the Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field completed the design for the extension of parallel taxiways A and B to the western end of the runway and also completed the design for a new north apron taxi-lane connector. The taxiway extensions will improve runway safety and increase aircraft capacity, while the new north apron taxi-lane connector will allow for aircraft to access the parallel taxiway and runway directly, while bypassing the congested terminal ramp. A Federal Aviation Administration and State of Georgia grant was awarded in the amount of nearly $250,000 for reimbursement of engineering costs for the projects. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2013 after the awarding of a federal and state grant to fund 95 percent of the proposed $2 million project.

Cobb County DOT 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. The project added 75 traffic signals in the Town Center area. Cobb County’s ATCS now includes 148 traffic signals and utilizes computer systems that provide real-time traffic signal timing adjustments to reduce traffic delays and improve mobility in high traffic activity centers, the greater Cumberland/Galleria and Town Center areas, and where unpredictable traffic conditions routinely occur due to interstate traffic incidents.

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

Cobb DOT activated the county’s first pedestrian hybrid beacon in the Six Flags Drive corridor, an area with high pedestrian activity. The pilot project will be studied to determine if this type of traffic control device is appropriate for other areas of Cobb.

The Cobb DOT Utilities section issued 1482 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 $212,248. Through the permit review and inspection process, Cobb employees provide a valuable service in monitoring work that affects the county.

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Water


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The Water System remained very stable financially during 2012, meeting the expectations of the bond rating agencies. Even though revenues were slightly less than expected, due primarily to the slowed economy and marginally reduced water sales, this shortfall was more than compensated for by efficient management that resulted in operating expenses of nearly 3 percent less than budgeted.

The South Cobb Tunnel project proceeds within budget and is now projected to be completed about 15 months ahead of schedule. The lining of the 27-foot diameter entry tunnel, varying in depth between 150 and 400 feet, was completed in July. The contact grouting process is well underway. The tunnel is anticipated to become operational during the spring of 2013.

The Sweetwater Creek Sanitary Sewer extension project was completed in June, and the project finished under the contract amount. This $6.3 million project included 10,700 linear feet of 54-inch gravity sanitary sewer and 3,300 linear feet of 12-inch and 24-inch ductile iron force mains.

Bids for the R.L. Sutton Biosolids Receiving Station were received in September (low bid of $10.6 million) and construction began in December. This station will allow the introduction of dewatered sewage biosolids, received via truck delivery from off-site sources, to the fluidized bed incineration system at the Sutton facility. The project will reduce landfill requirements and result in substantial ongoing disposal cost savings.

Mark Avenue Regional Detention Facility became fully operational in August. This project is intended to lessen the effects of storms on downstream properties along Noonday Creek Tributary Number 3 as well as the main stem of Noonday Creek by reducing channel degradation and flooding frequency. The facility is a 93 acre floodwater storage area impounded by a 17-foot high, 325-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 Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff to assist flood victims and provide relief where possible. This is an ongoing effort made more difficult by reductions in federal and state funding. To date, Cobb has been able to assist flood victims in acquiring, demolishing, and removing 52 flood-damaged homes through the Hazard Mitigation Grants program and qualifying 22 other damaged residences for federal assistance.

To provide even further convenience to Cobb Water System customers, the “Instant Payment” option is now available via the Water System Web site. Customers who do not wish to set up a user name and password to pay online can select this option and will be prompted to enter a unique code to access this electronic billing feature. Since the implementation, there are approximately 600 users of the feature weekly.

In operations, the Water Protection Division received the GAWP Wastewater Collection System 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 11 consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Northwest Water Reclamation Facility and seven 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 2011.

In the area of public education and outreach, the Watershed Stewardship Program’s “Eco-Logical…Tips to Reduce Your Footprint” video series, featuring various pollution prevention topics to help improve water quality throughout Cobb County and surrounding watersheds, was awarded the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Public Education Innovative Initiative Award. This series is produced in partnership with the Water System’s Stormwater Division and the county Communications TV23 production team.

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