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Government & Politics Blog

A glance at county, state & federal government services, decisions, and issues that effect East Cobbers.

US Senate nominee David Perdue to Speak at August 2 Cobb County Republican Party Breakfast

David Perdue

US Senate nominee David Perdue will speak at the August 2014 Breakfast for the Cobb County Republican Party on Saturday, August 2, from 8:15 to 10am at the Cobb County Republican Party headquarters, 799 Roswell St, Marietta.
The breakfast buffet opens at 8:15, and the program begins at 8:45. Admission is $10 per person.  There is no extra charge for breakfast or coffee.
For more information, please contact Joe Dendy at 770-820-6545.

 

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Zoning meetings scheduled for August 19

Every month the Cobb County Zoning Division prepares information, which provides analysis and staff recommendations for all rezoning, special land use permit and land use permit requests. These items are presented to the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners for their review, recommendation and consideration. 

The Board of Commissioners will hear zoning cases 9 a.m., TuesdayAug. 19

All meetings begin at 9 a.m. at the Board of Commissioners building at 100 Cherokee Street, second floor meeting room, Marietta. To view a list of cases scheduled to be heard visit http://zoning.comdev.cobbcountyga.gov/2014-07/

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SPLOST passes 4-1; Special tax headed to November ballot, voters

Bob Ott

 

Tuesday’s runoff elections set up several choices for voters on November’s ballot, and the Cobb Board of Commissioners added one more Tuesday night: a potential one percent special sales tax.

Commissioners voted 4-1, with Bob Ott opposed, to put a six-year special purpose local option sales tax before voters in November.

Several changes were made late Tuesday night to the list of projects to be funded by the SPLOST, which is expected to raise $750 million over its duration. Among the changes were a removal of a $72.5 million dollar project for intersection and pedestrian improvements along Cobb Parkway from the “tier two” section of the list, a move suggested by Chairman Tim Lee.

The $72.5 million line item was one of several in the SPLOST project list cited by critics as being connected to a controversial bus rapid transit project.

Initially, the BRT project was on the SPLOST list, but after receiving public comment on the issue, the commissioners decided to remove the project from the list. Lee reiterated the BRT absence from the list during the meeting.

“The project in its entirety has been removed from any paperwork, any project list,” Lee said.

Still, Lee recommended removing the $72.5 million earmark from the list before the vote.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid suggested another $60 million line item for improvements to Cobb Parkway be removed from a list of projects to be funded if federal, state or other funds become available. Cupid said she wanted the line item removed because constituents expressed concern the project could be used to fund BRT in the future, including some residents who made this argument during the public comment portion of the meeting.

In the July 2 draft of the SPLOST project list, the $60 million line item included a reference to BRT in its description, but in the July 15 draft, the reference to BRT was removed. Cupid said the lack of clarity regarding the project and its relationship to the proposed BRT gave her pause.

“Constituents shouldn’t have to play detective in understanding our line items, and I feel that is what they’ve done to uncover that BRT was referenced with one particular line item, which has not been removed, which is a $60 million project,” she said.

Lee argued the $60 million was put on the list by the Georgia Department of Transportation and it is necessary and unrelated to the BRT. Still, Cupid encouraged the board to remove the earmark before the vote.

“I’m not trying to diminish the need for improvements to the intersection beyond BRT,” Cupid said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it was included in the SPLOST list with BRT included in that section prior to that. And I’m not the one that needs to be convinced at the end of the day; the voters are. And by now, there is overwhelming concern by them on things that have been changed that referenced BRT that no longer reference BRT.”

Ott and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell agreed with Cupid, and before the vote, the project was removed.

Commissioner Helen Goreham, along with Lee, disagreed with the change.

“I support the SPLOST. I don’t support this change,” Goreham said. “I will vote to support the intergovernmental agreement, but I do not support a change that has no basis, and for us to act out of some fear that has been created.”

Despite the removal of these two projects, Ott still voted against the measure because he believes the project list contains too many unnecessary items.

“I think (the project list) strays too far from special purpose. There’s too many projects on there that I don’t think are needs,” he said.

Before commissioners voted on whether to put the SPLOST before voters, they approved an intergovernmental agreement, which described how the funds raised by the SPLOST would be divided between Cobb County’s six cities and the county itself. Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the agreement.

After the agreement’s approval, commissioners began discussion of the SPLOST project list and the changes they would like to make. However, the county attorney, Deborah Dance, informed commissioners the project list was included in the intergovernmental agreement; the subsequent vote was solely to decide whether to put the issue before voters. Learning the $60 million line item had been approved, Cupid called for a revote to revisit the intergovernmental agreement, which commissioners agreed to do, 4-1, with a frustrated Lee opposed.

 

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Ricky Leroux July 23, 2014. View the original MDJ article HERE.) 

Runoff Election Results as of 8:20 am

In case you called it a night before the results were tallied, here are the unofficial results from Tuesday’s races as of 8:20am, reprinted from The Marietta Daily Journal. Click HERE to see the original MDJ post

 

Unofficial Cobb County and State of Georgia results as of 8:20 a.m.

NOTE: Provisional ballots are NOT included.

State Results

United States Senator, Chambliss – REP

158 of 159 Counties Reporting

J. H. ‘JACK’ KINGSTON 49.12%, 237,190

DAVID A. PERDUE 50.88%, 245,723

Total votes – 482,913

State School Superintendent – REP

158 of 159 Counties Reporting

MICHAEL L. ‘MIKE’ BUCK 49.91%, 198,531

RICHARD L. WOODS 50.09%, 199,257

Total votes – 397,788

State School Superintendent – DEM

158 of 159 Counties Reporting

ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN 45.62%, 61,725

VALARIE D. WILSON 54.38%, 73,590

Total votes – 135,315

U.S. Representative, District 11 – REP

4 of 4 Counties Reporting

R. L. ‘BOB’ BARR 33.94%, 17,794

BARRY D. LOUDERMILK 66.06%, 34,641

Total votes – 52,435

Cobb County Results

United States Senator, Chambliss – REP

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

J.H. ‘JACK’ KINGSTON 46.26%, 21,827

DAVID A. PERDUE 53.74%, 25,359

Total votes – 47,186

State School Superintendent – REP

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

‘MIKE’ BUCK 46.50%, 17,533

RICHARD L. WOODS 53.50%, 20,175

Total votes – 37,708

State School Superintendent – DEM

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN 57.23%, 3,493

VALARIE D. WILSON 42.77%, 2,610

Total votes – 6,103

U.S. Representative, District 11 – REP

73 of 73 Precincts Reporting

R. L. ‘BOB’ BARR 40.66%, 9,314

BARRY D. LOUDERMILK 59.34%, 13,591

Total votes – 22,905

Cobb Commission-Dist 1-R

43 of 43 Precincts Reporting

W. ‘BILL’ BYRNE 38.49%, 5,960

‘BOB’ WEATHERFORD 61.51%, 9,523

Total votes – 15,483

Cobb School Board-Dist 2-R

19 of 19 Precincts Reporting

TIMOTHY ‘TIM’ STULTZ 29.55%, 1,271

SUSAN THAYER 70.45%, 3,030

Total votes – 4,301

Superior Court Judge, Cobb Circuit (Bodiford)

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

ANN B. HARRIS 61.67%, 30,993

JUANITA PIERSON STEDMAN 38.33%, 19,260

Total votes – 50,253

Acworth Alderman

3 of 3 Precincts Reporting

BRETT NORTH 52.19%, 656

C. KEVIN WIGINGTON 47.81%, 601

Total votes – 1,257

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Vote today!

vote

Hey East Cobbers! Don’t forget to vote today!

East Cobb voters return to the polls July 22 to help determine nominees for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and State School Superintendent. If you have questions about your eligibility to vote or where to vote, go to www.mvp.sos.ga.gov

 

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SPLOST Hearing Scheduled Tomorrow

A public hearing for the SPLOST will be held at 7 p.m.July 22, at the Board of Commissioners meeting room, second floor, 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta.

For more information, go to www.cobbSPLOST2016.org.

 

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East Cobb voters return to the polls July 22

vote

East Cobb voters return to the polls July 22 to help determine nominees for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and State School Superintendent. If you have questions about your eligibility to vote or where to vote, go to www.mvp.sos.ga.gov

 

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Cobb Taxpayers Association opposes SPLOST

The Board of the Cobb Taxpayers Association (CTA) has voted unanimously to oppose having the Cobb County Board of Commissioners (BOC) place another Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the ballot in November, 2014. The BOC is scheduled to vote on whether to put it on the ballot at their regularly scheduled meeting on July 22nd.

“Unfortunately for Cobb taxpayers, the County has become overly dependent on SPLOST and is using it to pay for routine maintenance items which should be budgeted through other revenue sources”, said Lance Lamberton, Chairman of the CTA. “It is shocking to think that something like 98% of the Cobb’s Department of Transportation budget is dependent on SPLOST. Instead of being a special purpose tax, it has morphed into a permanent one,” Lamberton said.

Another concern of the CTA Board is that since state law requires that the SPLOST be levied at a full one percent, it contends that many projects are placed on the project list regardless of need. As an alternative, CTA is asking that the BOC hold off on putting this SPLOST on the ballot, and give the state legislature another chance to pass a fractional SPLOST in the next legislative session, and then come back with a SPLOST which is more aligned with needs versus wants. Fractional SPLOST legislation almost passed in the last session, but was not enacted due to an inability to reconcile House and Senate versions of the bill in the waning hours of the session.

Of special concern to the CTA is placing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project on the Tier II level of this SPLOST. “It is deceptive and misleading to try to hide this extraordinarily wasteful, expensive and counter-productive project onto the Tier II list, and expect that taxpayers will be duped into not recognizing it for what it is,” Lamberton said.

CTA maintains that the BRT was soundly rejected at the polls with the defeat of the regional Transportation SPLOST in 2012, which had a similar project in it. “The people have spoken” Lamberton said. “It is time for the BOC to listen.”

According to CTA Vice Chairman, David Staples: “I am especially alarmed at a $50 million allocation in the list of Tier I Department of Transportation Projects, whose only justification is to provide a local match for state and federal funding. This is clearly an attempt to help fund the BRT, and to put it in the SPLOST list without specifying what it is for is but another shallow attempt to deceive taxpayers.” He added, “Taxpayers should not have open-ended allocations like this included in a SPLOST list. Projects should be specific and transparent.”

If the BOC does put the SPLOST on the ballot at their July 22nd meeting, CTA pledges that it will launch a full-fledged campaign to defeat it at the polls. If that were to happen, Cobb County’s sales tax would decline to 5% in 2016, making it the lowest sales tax in the state. Most counties in the Atlanta metro area have a sales tax rate of 7%. “This significantly reduced tax rate would be a boon to Cobb County residents and businesses, saving consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the years that we would be free from the SPLOST tax burden,” Lamberton said.

Representing hundreds of taxpayers throughout Cobb County, CTA was formed in 2005 to oppose passage of that year’s SPLOST, and has since been active in opposing subsequent SPLOSTS, including the aforementioned Transportation SPLOST. It also supported passage of the Charter School Amendment, and is working for passage of a fractional SPLOST and other measures to reduce taxes, spending, and provide for a more equitable and efficient tax system for all Georgians.

Under the organization’s by-laws that were adopted by its five member board in 2013, CTA was established to:
Organize and inform voters of the benefits and advantages of reducing and/or limiting taxes and government spending.
Inform the public about current issues and engage them in grass-roots activities designed to achieve the above-stated objective.
Advocate and promote private sector solutions to public policy issues.
Work constructively with elected officials to oppose or support legislation, ordinances and measures which support a more limited, transparent, and accountable government on the local, county and state level.
Focus only on taxation and government spending issues and engage its activities only to those which are directly related to the above-stated objectives.

(Source: Cobb Taxpayers Association. For more information, go to: www.cobbtaxpayer.com.)

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Restoring history: Commissioners approve Hyde Farm renovation contract

Eddie Cannon, Cobb director of parks and recreation, stands in front of the house at the Hyde Farm in east Cobb on Friday. The farm is slated for a restoration project after county commissioners approved a $1.4 million restoration project for the house and outbuildings, including two barns. Staff/Jeff Stanton

 

Many of the buildings dotting the 95 acres of east Cobb’s Hyde Farm have been standing since the mid-1800s.

The aging structures will soon get much-needed renovations thanks to the Board of Commissioners’ approval of an about $1.5 million construction contract.

PBG Builders will perform the improvements, which will include strengthening the foundations of some buildings and completely rebuilding others “using historically appropriate techniques and materials,” said Eddie Canon, director of Cobb’s parks department.

The funds that will keep Hyde Farm’s structures standing for years to come were included in the 2011 SPLOST project list.

Canon said a goat house, a hog shed and a corn crib are among the 12 historic buildings PBG Builders will revamp.

“All of the farm buildings are in various states of deterioration,” he said.

The Power-Hyde House, which sits in the middle of the park off Lower Roswell Road near the Chattahoochee River, was built on the farm’s grounds about 1840, Canon said.

Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the district in which Hyde Farm is located, said the process of restoring Hyde Farm has been ongoing since the county purchased its portion of the land.

Cobb County purchased its 42.5-acre piece of Hyde Farm in 2009 for $5 million, and the National Park Service added the remaining 53 acres to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in 2010 for $4.5 million.

The county used funds authorized under the 2006 parks bond program to buy the farm’s central area, which is surrounded on three sides by the National Park Service’s property, Canon said.

Ott said the renovations are just the next step in a long-term effort to turn the park into a destination.

“The idea would be that this is basically going to be a working farm to see what farming life was like in Cobb County during that time frame,” Ott said.

PBG spent several days over the course of two months scouring the farm’s buildings, Canon said, and reported its findings to the county before commissioners awarded it the development contract this week.

Hyde Farm was last cultivated by J.C. Hyde, who lived and farmed the land until his death in 2004. The Hyde family bought the farm from the Power family in 1920. The Powers first built on the land in the 1830s.

Ott said the county ultimately aimed to add a welcome center and restore a terrace as part of its effort to transform Hyde Farm into a “historical look-back.”

He touted the fact the farm sits in east Cobb, an area that has been “pretty much developed out” since the days of the Hyde brothers.

“I think it gives county residents the unique opportunity to see what the community was like back then, and how they fed themselves and how they lived.”

 

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Sarah Westwood, July 12, 2014. View the original article HERE.) 

NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX INCREASE

The Cobb County School District has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will require an increase in property taxes by 4.78 percent. All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on the tax increase to be held 514 Glover Street, Marietta, Georgia in the Board Room on July 17, 2014 at 8:30 AM.

Tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 18.9 mills, an increase of 0.862 mills. Without this tentative tax increase, the millage rate will be no more than 18.038 mills. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $225,000 is approximately $68.96 and the proposed tax increase for non homestead property with a fair market value of $300,000 is approximately $103.44.

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