Chairman Tim Lee
2016 was an incredibly successful year. The growing tax digest, job creation, private investment in Cobb’s economy and Cobb County’s conservative fiscal management practices helped the Board of Commissioners have the lowest general fund tax rate in 15 years, while focusing on services that matter most. Cobb County ended 2016 with the lowest tax rate of all the core counties in metro Atlanta.
Cobb’s strong leadership and smart budgeting policies are recognized. For the 20th consecutive year, Cobb County earned a Triple AAA bond rating. We are one of only 40 counties in the United States to hold this prestigious rating.
Public safety is paramount in every community. The men and women who risk their lives daily to protect ours make Cobb County the greatest and safest place to be. It is because of this courage and commitment that the Cobb County Board of Commissioners made an unprecedented investment in Public Safety. Cobb continues to add sworn officer positions while implementing policies and practices that have recruitment and retention in the police department. 2016 marked the year that the Cobb Fire Department received the highly-coveted Class 1 ISO rating held by less than 1 percent of departments in the entire country.
Cobb’s economy is booming. Thousands of jobs were created or retained and more than $250 million of private investment was made in 2016. The Battery Atlanta, a city unto itself, is taking shape right before our eyes. Six hundred residences are under construction, the Roxy is built, ComCast headquarters and the Omni are nearly complete, an additional 80,000-square foot office building is constructed and fully leased and dozens of world class restaurant and retail establishments will be ready for Opening Day in April. Five additional class A office towers are under construction in the Cumberland area and two more have been announced.
The Atlanta Blaze kicked off its inaugural season as Cobb’s own major league lacrosse team. The major league training facilities and headquarters being built by Atlanta United will be complete in time for the 2017 season. SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves opens in March. The Braves moved in to its new headquarters and Braves’ nation is excited about a strong line up in a world-class ballpark, right here in Cobb County.
I am honored to have played a role in Cobb’s successes over the past six years. We wrapped up 2016 in a strong position that is enviable among our peers. I am certain that Cobb will continue to make progress in 2017 and for years to come.
Commissioner JoAnn Birrell
As we look forward with anticipation of what 2017 will bring, I would be remiss not to reflect on 2016 and our accomplishments.
The District Three redevelopment list originally contained 17 blighted properties in 2013. In three short years, we have reduced the list to two properties. We have lured businesses such as QuikTrip, Stone Summit, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Movie Tavern and Waffle House to Canton Road, Busbee Parkway, Sandy Plains Road and other areas of the district. I am grateful to these companies and many others for their investments in these properties.
Along those lines, we continued the successful and informative “How to do Business with Cobb” seminars. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and generosity of Purchasing Department staff and a partnership with Keep it in Cobb, attendees can learn how to become a vendor with Cobb County Government and the Cobb County School System. Twice a year, small business owners can meet department representatives, network with one another and establish working relationships that provide services for the county and taxpayers.
One of the most important services we can provide to our residents, businesses and visitors is a safe environment in which they can live, work and play.
Public safety holds a special place in my heart. This year, the Northeast Cobb Business Association, of which I'm a charter member, held its second annual 5K9 run/walk race. Last year, the organization raised money for a new K9 for the Cobb County Police Department to replace Diesel. This year, the organization raised $15,000 toward the purchase of a 10-month-old Hanover Hound for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office. This K9 is currently in training and will be named soon.
Cobb has one of the largest veteran populations in Georgia. I appreciate the sacrifices of our military veterans to secure our freedoms. This year, I launched Superior Pets for Patriotic Vets. This initiative pairs pets in the Cobb County Animal Control shelter with Armed Forces veterans. Superior Plumbing sponsored the adoption fees for 50 veterans to select their new best friends and for 50 cats and dogs to find their new forever homes. Two adoption events will be held in 2017 for veterans. Thank you to Superior Plumbing for sponsoring this program.
In an attack on a recruitment center in Chattanooga, Marine Lance Corporal Squire “Skip” Wells was killed. Skip grew up in District Three and attended Bells Ferry Elementary School, Daniell Middle School and Sprayberry High School. He spent many hours in Bells Ferry Park. In his honor, Bells Ferry Park is now renamed Lance Corporal Squire “Skip” Wells Park.
The new home of the Braves and the development of SunTrust Park is on time and on budget. Home plate has been moved and the topping off ceremony is complete. We anxiously await opening day!
Since voters agreed to purchase Mabry Park in 2008, there have been challenges to make it come to fruition. This year, we broke ground at Mabry Park. The master plan will soon become a reality and road construction will begin in the spring. I appreciate the Mabry family, the Friends of Mabry Park, and many others for their support. We could not have done any of it without you.
The Town Center Community Improvement District is an integral partner to the county, Town Center Mall, businesses and Kennesaw State University. In addition to transportation projects, the CID is launching Aviation Park. The aviation-themed park is located at the corner of Barrett Lakes Boulevard and Cobb Place Boulevard, adjacent to the end of the Cobb International Airport runway. It will be completed in 2017. Aviation Park adds to the expansive trail network in Cobb County.
Kennesaw State University is a boon to the county. In only its second year, the KSU Owls football team had another successful season. When football is not in session, the school offers events for friends and families throughout the year from food truck festivals to Owl-O-Ween. We are fortunate to have world-class education and entertainment so close to home.
The bridge across Interstate 75 and in the KSU complex is a part of the Skip Spann Connector. It is Cobb County’s first lighted bridge. It not only beautifies road sections, the bridge increases safety for pedestrians and bikers and is expected to reduce traffic congestion at the I-75 and Chastain Road interchange by nearly 20 percent. The bridge was designed by engineering students that incorporated the twin peaks of Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw mountains.
When elected officials have a congenial working relationship, it can serve to benefit the county. Thank you to the Women Elected Representatives of Cobb for another great year of networking and congeniality. Congratulations to newly elected judges, councilwomen and other elected officials. I look forward to working with you.
As you can see, 2016 was a very productive year. None of this would have been possible without residents and businesses agreeing to new projects to enhance the county through the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Cobb County employees work tirelessly each day to bring value to our taxpayers. The tagline for Cobb County is “Expect the Best.” I am blessed to say our employees are the best!
I look forward with anticipation to the opportunities that 2017 will bring. With the redrawing of district lines, I no longer represent some residents that I have enjoyed meeting and serving over the last six years. For my new constituents, I look forward to working with you. In 2017, we must endeavor to work together with the new chairman and fellow commissioners to ensure Cobb County remains a remarkable place to live, work and play.