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Government & Politics Blog

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

Winter Storm Warning for Cobb County

2.11.14

Cobb County is under a Winter Storm Warning. County staff are preparing for the arrival of up to several inches of snow between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning. 

Residents are encourage to check their preparedness for winter weather. A good resource is Ready Georgia.

Cobb County DOT crews will begin working 12 hour shifts on Wednesday and will continue until the weather event is over. Road problems can be reported to Cobb DOT at 770-528-1600 or cobbdot@cobbcounty.org.

County Police, Sheriff, Fire and 911 have been working in coordination on responding to potential problems caused by the winter weather. Motorist should use caution and check conditions before driving.

Get the latest weather updates from NOAA.

 

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Workshops continue for those seeking grants

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The Cobb County Community Development Block Grant Program Office is now receiving applications from organizations requesting 2016 Community Development Block Grant funds, HOME Investment Partnership funds, and Emergency Solutions Grant funds. Applications will be accepted from non-profit organizations, participating cities in Cobb County, Cobb County departments and other public agencies including local housing authorities, mental health agencies and public health agencies.

The application period runs until Monday, April 6.  All interested organizations should submit a completed application to the CDBG Program Office. Applications must be physically received at the CDBG Program Office no later than 5 p.m. on Monday,April 6. Any applications received after this deadline will be returned to the applicant and will not be considered for funding by Cobb County.

If you have any questions about the application or the application process, please contact Eryca Fambro, Deputy Director atefambro@cobbcountycdbg.com or by phone at (770) 528-1460.

Applications should be submitted to:

CDBG Program Office
121 Haynes St.
Marietta, GA 30060
Attn: Eryca Fambro, Deputy Director

Applicants should prepare to attend one of the scheduled workshops to learn more about the CDBG, HOME, and ESG applications process. Program staff will be available to answer questions and provide instruction on how to complete the application. The workshop will be held at the following locations:

DISTRICT 2
2 p.m. Tuesday, March 3
East Marietta Public Library
2051 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta

DISTRICT 3
10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24
Mountain View Community Center
3400 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta

DISTRICT 4
2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26
3820 Macedonia Road
Powder Springs

For more information, contact: Cobb County CDBG Program Office, Eryca Fambro, Deputy Director atefambro@cobbcountycdbg.com or call (770) 528-1455.

 

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Make plans to attend chairman’s town hall in District Two

Open communication is one of the fundamental elements of good government and town hall meetings serve as excellent opportunities to share information, ideas and input.

Chairman Tim Lee is hosting a town hall meeting in each of the four commission districts this year. The next meeting will be held in District Two 6:30-8 p.m., Monday, Feb. 23, at East Cobb Regional Library, 4880 Lower Roswell Road.

Other scheduled town halls are planned March 19 at East Cobb Senior Center in District Three andApril 29 at South Cobb Community Center in District Four. For more information, call 770-528-3305 or visit cobbcounty.org/lee.

 

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District Three town hall TONIGHT

District Three Commissioner JoAnn Birrell will host her first town hall of the year 6:30-8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19. The Georgia Department of Transportation’s Northwest Corridor Express Lanes project will be highlighted. This meeting will be held at East Cobb Senior Center, 3332 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta.

For more information, call 770-528-3317 or visitcobbcounty.org/birrell.

 

 

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State Legislators to Hold Town Hall Meetings

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Come hear from your state legislators! Local lawmakers are planning town hall meetings as the  Legislative session continues this winter. State Senator Judson Hill (R) and State Representative John Carson (R) will address current issues including pending legislation, during their town hall meeting to be held on Monday, February 16 at Mountain View Library, 7-8pm. All Marietta and Cobb County residents are invited to attend. Constituents are invited to share their thoughts on the issues that affect you so the state legislators can use your input to more effectively represent the community’s needs and concerns.

State Senator Hill and State Representative John Carson will host another town hall on Monday, March 23, also at Mountain View Library, 7-8pm. Mountain View Library is located at 3320 Sandy Plains Road in Marietta/East Cobb.

 

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Cobb library system offers adult reading program

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The Cobb County Public Library System announced the launch of Winter Warm-Ups, the 2015 Adult Winter Reading Program, which officially started Jan. 5 and runs through March 20.

The Winter Warm-Ups program features a chance for participating adult Cobb County library cardholders to win a $50 Visa gift card for reading up to three books, courtesy of the Cobb Library Foundation. Adults may choose from books, ebooks and audiobooks for contest entries.

Program participants can pick up a tic-tac-toe board from their favorite Cobb County Public Library, read up to three books or listen to up to three audiobooks in the different categories to make three squares in a row and then turn in the completed board for an entry in the drawing for a $50 gift card. All Cobb County Public Library System cardholders ages 18 and up are eligible to enter an unlimited number of times. Adult cardholders must be in good standing with the library to qualify for a prize.

For more information, contact Jill Tempest at (770) 528-2330 or tempestj@cobbcat.org.

 

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Don’t You Just Love Cobb County?

I love Cobb County. We all have a lot of reasons to love Cobb County!

That was the essence of my State of Cobb County address last month (which can be viewed on TV23:
Video On Demand: Special Presentation) at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. That’s because in Cobb, we
have every right to feel very good about a number of accomplishments, from our rare, Triple-A rating (now going on 18 consecutive years), to our strong school system. Everything our 4,500 county employees do, every day, is done to provide the best services possible to our citizens and visitors. They do what they do so you get your money’s worth from the taxes you pay – still among the lowest in metro Atlanta, by the way – and so you can, frankly, brag to others about where you live!

Here’s what you, as a Cobb County resident or business owner, have to brag about:

• a citizenry invested in the county’s future
• excellent quality of life
• low cost of living and/or doing business
• low taxes
• strong employment
• effective public safety
• excellent educational opportunities
• ongoing improvements in transportation
• local commitment to parks and recreation
• a county with 18 years of Triple-A ratings from all three credit-rating agencies
• a water system also with a triple, Triple-A rating
• a fiscally conservative government with a healthy budget surplus
• favorable and competitive business conditions
• steady local leadership
• a county with strong relationships with its cities.

That’s a pretty impressive list, don’t you think?

These are on the wish lists for most anyone searching for a place to live or a place to do business. It’s normal; people want to a local government that’s working on their behalf. They want a government that empowers them – through its own efficiency and responsiveness – to accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Cobb County does that. Our employees do a phenomenal job executing beyond expectations and  delivering more for less. Their accomplishments are many, but the rewards are ours.

I love that.

If you love it too, then please tweet #iLoveCobb.

(Reprinted from Commissioner Tim Lee’s e-newsletter 1/19/2015)

 

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District Three town hall meeting next week

District Three Commissioner JoAnn Birrell will host her first town hall of the year 6:30-8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19. The spotlight will be on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Northwest Corridor Express Lanes project. This meeting will be held at East Cobb Senior Center, 3332 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta.

For more information, call 770-528-3317 or visitcobbcounty.org/birrell.

 

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Code amendments hearing is February 24

The final public hearing for the community to provide feedback on proposed code amendments will occur at 7 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 24, in the BOC meeting room.

The proposed code amendments are located at http://cobbcounty.org/images/documents/comm-dev/news-archive/Draft_Code_Amendment_Package_1_2015.pdf.

If you are unavailable to attend one of the two public hearings, feel free to provide feedback to me via email at JoAnn.Birrell@cobbcounty.org.

 

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Braves move to Cobb: Oral Argument at Supreme Court of Georgia

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The planned stadium in Cobb County for the Atlanta Braves has had a bit of controversy. For months various public figures have described any opposition to the stadium as misguided and have denigrated anyone who has questioned the project. I am one of those people and ask for a couple of minutes of your time to read this and understand the issues.
Current status: In July, Cobb County Superior Court held a hearing to”Validate” the bonds for financing the stadium. This is a legally-mandated process that assures bond investors that the bonds were properly issued under the law. Several people “intervened” in the validation process. Intervention is allowed in the law for anyone who has reason to oppose the validation. The Court dismissed all the objections and issued an order validating the bonds. Three Interveners appealed the ruling of the Cobb Court. By law, appeals of bond validation go directly to the Supreme Court of Georgia. Briefs were submitted by the three Appellants and by the attorneys for the government parties (Cobb County and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority) in November and December. On Tuesday, February 3, oral arguments were heard in the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Video of the oral arguments in the stadium bonds case at the Supreme Court can be seen here.

This is a very abbreviated view of the case against the bond debt.
The new stadium for the Atlanta Braves requires Cobb County to incur debt. Revenue bonds are to be issued in the amount of $397,000,000. The bonds are to be issued by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority.
The Georgia Constitution states clearly that a referendum is required to acquire “the assent of the voters”  for a local government to incur debt. This was not done despite there being elections already scheduled in April and November of 2014. There are also other limitations in the Constitution that are applicable to revenue bond debt.
Cobb County and the Coliseum Authority have entered into an “Intergovernmental Agreement” (IGA). This is a specialized form of contracts for units of state and local governments. Under this agreement the Authority will issue the bonds and the County will make payments to the Authority sufficient to meet the obligations for principal and interest on the bonds, as well as expenses of the Authority. This is in addition to rent payments by the Braves of $6.1 million per year. The County’s payments will run about $19 million per year, for thirty years. These terms were approved by the Cobb County Commissioners, not by a referendum of the public.
The government (County and Authority) contends that they are not subject to the limitations on debt, including the referendum requirement, found in the Constitution because they have an Intergovernmental Agreement. The constitutional origin for the IGA is not the basis for that claim as it says nothing about that subject. The claim that the government is immune to the debt limitations of the Constitution is derived from a court decision in 1952.
Several issues were raised in the appeal to the Supreme Court. The most important objections before the Court are these:
  • The 1952 Court decision has for years provided the legal authority for local governments to dodge the debt limits of the Constitution. It is a seriously flawed decision. In short, the conclusion of the Court in 1952 is completely wrong and should be overturned by the current Supreme Court. With that, the government would not have a claim of immunity and would absolutely be required to conform to the limitations of the Constitution, including the referendum requirement.
  • The Intergovernmental Agreement between the County and the Coliseum Authority is not valid. It does not contain the essential elements of an Intergovernmental Agreement that the Court has required in all prior cases.
  • The government does not have Constitutional authority to build a stadium for the exclusive use of a professional sports team. The government claims its Constitutional Authority is from the Supplemental Powers Clause which allows for “parks” as a government function.
Why does it matter?
The use of Intergovernmental Agreements between units of government has been a growing trend around the state for years. It allows a local government and one of the MANY “Authorities” that have power to issue revenue bonds to cooperate in a way that bypasses the voters and enters the taxpayers into long-term debt obligations for virtually anything the county commissioners or city councils want to do. The stadium project in Cobb County takes it to the final step in that the stadium itself stretches the constitutional authority of “parks” to the maximum. The Intergovernmental Agreement says nothing more than “Party A will issue the bonds and Party B will provide money to make the payments”, with the money coming from taxpayers. This agreement can be replicated at any time by any local government in the state. If it is found to be acceptable, revenue bond debt will be available to any city or county in the state at any time with no vote and no limits.
All of this is contrary to clearly stated terms of the state Constitution and defies good judgement. What could be more dangerous than local politicians with unlimited access to credit?
One last word: Cobb County has approved a series of new taxes to pay for the stadium debt. Much of it falls on hotels, rental cars and property near the stadium. I have doubts about the legality of those taxes but no one has challenged them.
The bonds to be issued for financing the stadium ($397,000,000) include  a statement of “Security”. This is what assures investors that the bonds will absolutely be paid. The Security for these bonds is the absolute assurance that Cobb County will tax all the property in Cobb County at whatever rate is necessary to meet its obligations for this debt.
(Written by Larry Savage)

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