2019 was a terrific year in Cobb County...
Introduction by Chairman Mike Boyce
2019 was a terrific year in Cobb County.
In a feature story published by Georgia Trend in 2019, the magazine called Cobb “an economic behemoth in Georgia.” From our business diversity and economic development, to top-notch schools, entertainment and leisure activities, we’re excited that others recognize what we’ve always known — “Cobb seems to truly have it all.”
Residents and business owners want to know leaders are committed to making their community a better place to live. There are many reasons why Cobb County offers true value, including the lowest taxes in metro Atlanta. Another great reason is stability and one of my top priorities is maintaining our current General Fund millage rate for the 2021 budget. This is possible because of continued tax digest growth, which indicates a strong economy and a well-run county. All these factors entice businesses and quality job growth to our county. In 2019, Cobb welcomed 18 new companies or expansions, representing $325 million in investment.
Because of strong leadership and a clear vision, we covered our general fund shortfall, appropriated $14 million toward needed capital replacement and maintenance and lowered our TANS borrowing cost by $30 million in 2019. All three bond rating agencies confirmed the fiscal responsibility and stability of Cobb County Government by reaffirming our AAA bond rating for both the county and the water system.
The rating agencies also removed the negative outlook from our rating last summer, confirming both our forward-thinking actions and Cobb’s economic future.
An important part of maintaining economic stability is long-range planning to foresee and address issues that inevitably arise from growth. One example was our ability to absorb the development associated with the opening of Truist Park and the Battery, including effectively addressing traffic control issues. Another example of long-range planning was the seamless coordination among county government, organizations and business associations in preparation for hosting Super Bowl events in February 2019. Not only did we effectively manage the large influx of visitors, our Cobb County International Airport also set records during Super Bowl weekend. Cobb residents continued to realize the value of voter-approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects in 2019, as North Cobb Regional Library opened to enthusiastic crowds. Many renovations of parks and facilities were also completed or started in 2019 using SPLOST funds. Additionally, the Board of Commissioners approved funding for a new medical examiner facility, the purchase of a new police department headquarters and construction of a new training facility.
The willingness to listen and value input from our community are qualities that set Cobb apart. For example, CobbLinc will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. The transit system carries more than 2.5 million riders annually and is growing. We heard the public’s call for additional Saturday and Sunday operating hours to help service workers and we added those hours in 2019. We will continue to use innovation to provide more connectivity, including alternative services like partnerships with rideshare companies. During my time as a Marine, I learned the first principle of leadership is taking care of your people. The primary reason Cobb is considered an excellent place to live, work and play is because of the outstanding customer service provided by county leaders and employees. Our employees continually find ways to work more effectively and efficiently. This is evidenced by the fact that although the Cobb’s population has increased by more than 17,000 since 2015, we have less county employees now than we did then.
Working with our Board of Commissioners, we implemented a much-deserved raise for county employees and a higher raise for our sworn public safety officers in 2019. Recognizing the importance of recruiting and retaining quality staff in our public safety departments, we recently passed and funded a step and grade system for public safety. We’ve also been working with local banks who are partnered with the Federal Home Loan Bank to provide grants that help county employees become homeowners.
Cobb County Government reflects the compassion of its people and we are making strides to help the homeless population in our county. We are creating a framework for organizations and individuals to collaborate, develop and share best practices to address the challenges facing our homeless.
As we look toward 2020, we must decide what we want Cobb County to look like at the end of the decade and how we will best get there. This will include anticipating needs and addressing the increasing pressing problems of traffic in the county. Many transportation projects and improvements will be included in the 2022 SPLOST that voters will weigh in on during the upcoming year’s referendum. Cobb will also remain actively-involved in regional efforts to improve transportation.
We are entering a new decade and the state of our county has never been better. I look forward to continuing our work together toward making Cobb a place that truly has it all.