Chairman Lee confident about toll lanes
by Geoff Folsom
gfolsom@mdjonline.com
February 14, 2012 01:33 AM | 2447 views | 10 10 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WEST COBB — Cobb Chairman Tim Lee says he is confident that Gov. Nathan Deal will come through with his proposal to build managed toll lanes in the Interstate 75/575 corridor in Cobb and Cherokee counties.

“He assured me that it will” be built, Lee said after a 70-minute town hall meeting at the West Cobb Senior Center on Monday. “I have no reason not to believe him.”

Deal announced the proposal to use gas tax revenue to fund much of the $900 million Northwest Corridor project in early February. The proposal came after weeks of speculating on what to do after Deal pulled the plug on a public-private partnership to build the lanes out of concern that the state would cede control of the corridor for up to 60 years.

Lee said Deal will bring forward a funding statement showing how the toll lanes would be paid for in the next couple of weeks.

As a result of the governor’s proposal, Lee backed off on his call for the state Legislature to take funding for public transportation out of Cobb’s list of projects in the Transportation Investment Act, which voters in the 10-county metro Atlanta region will decide if they want to pay a 1 percent sales tax to fund for the next 10 years on July 31.

Now, Lee said voters will have the $689 million earmark for high-capacity transit, such as light rail or bus rapid transit, before them when they go to the polls.

“I was very concerned going forward without funding for the managed lanes, but now it appears that is going to be resolved,” Lee said. “It’s up to the community now to decide on the approved list.”

Lee also seemed to give a little in his position on pay raises for police officers and other public safety employees during the town hall, which about 60 people attended. Police pay has been an issue since a November-December Cobb Superior Court grand jury report recommended better pay and more benefits to police officers to keep them from leaving for other cities and counties.

After the report was released, Lee said Cobb didn’t have the money to give raises or benefits such as take-home vehicles. But he said he hopes to look at the issue again after the Citizen Oversight Committee issues its final report on Feb. 28 and the county finishes its strategic planning process in the coming weeks.

“Hopefully we can comprehensively look at what do we have to do to present and provide a meaningful employee compensation package that is realistic and takes into account our new economy,” he said. “It’s something we’re aggressively looking at, what is the right solution to deal with it, because not only is it the police department that has problems with morale, but each agency’s director around here will tell you that once a week, they’re having a conversation with somebody that’s just wondering, ‘When is it going to end?’”

Lee said that giving a 1 percent pay raise to all county employees would cost the county around $4 million.

Billy Mull, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, was pleased that Lee is willing to discuss pay issues with police.

“I felt good that he has an open door to discuss it with us,” Mull said. “He didn’t rule it out, nor did he make any promises.”

Lee also took a moment to plug the Competitive EDGE plan, which would use Cobb Chamber of Commerce to fund a nonprofit 501(c)3 agency for economic development. He said the plan could actually help turn people from a life of crime.

“Creating an opportunity for jobs also gives an alternative to someone who might make a bad decision,” Lee said.

The town hall was the first Lee has planned for each of Cobb’s four commission districts. He will have meetings March 21 in Smyrna, April 10 in northeast Cobb and May 14 in Mableton.

A number of candidates were in attendance at the meeting, including Mike Boyce and Larry Savage, who are both challenging Lee in the July 31 Republican Primary. Also there were U.S. House candidate Michael Opitz, who is challenging Rep. Phil Gingrey; Lisa Cupid, who is running for south Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson’s seat; Nathan Wade, a superior court judge candidate; John Skelton, candidate for Cobb Superior Court Clerk; and Kennesaw City Councilman Tim Killingsworth.

Kirk Callaway of west Cobb said Lee was doing the best he could with a difficult financial situation in the county.

“I think he did a good job,” Callaway said after the meeting. “There are some tough questions, and I don’t think people want to know what the real answers are. It still boils down to money, and we don’t have enough money to do what we want to do.”
Comments
(10)
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SG68
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February 15, 2012
Lee's logic defies all reason.

I think our Chairman needs to be drug tested.
borrowing From CCSD
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February 14, 2012
When the CCSD wanted to pass the SPLOST for more over spending at our expense it was for the CHILDREN!!!! So now Lee has a new motto guaranteed to pull at our heartstrings oops I mean at our pockets just like CCSD- "Lee took a moment to plug the Competitive EDGE plan, which would use Cobb Chamber of Commerce to fund a nonprofit 501(c)3 agency for economic development. He said the plan could actually help turn people from a life of crime." Really can you please show me where that was written in the EDGE. The crime is called white collar crime and Lee and all the Chamber are guilty! Take money from the schools that are prepared to lay off 350 teachers and take money from the county that just got bailed out by the raise in our milledge.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Chairman Lee confident about toll lanes
otter357
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February 14, 2012
"Deal announced the proposal to use gas tax revenue to fund much of the $900 million Northwest Corridor project in early February."

So we get taxed to build a road that we have to pay to use?
Police double pay?
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February 14, 2012
Somebody said that the officers leaving Cobb are not quitting to move. It's claimed that they are retiring on Cobb's great benefits.

Taking new jobs will double their income when the new job is added to their Cobb pension. Who wouldn't take that deal? Sounds like the officers are being smart.

Does anyone know if this is true?
CobbCountyRedneck
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February 14, 2012
So Tim has changed his mind yet again!!

Unbelieveable!!

So the $1 BILLION light rail line for the City of Atlanta and MARTA is back on the table. Hooray!!!

Does Timmy the Taxaholic have a plan for how we pay for the ongoingoperating costs if the TIA passes?

I am betting NO he doesn't!!

Every time Lee opens his mouth he proves once again what a bumbling fool he is.

Of course he supports the Chamber's EDGE proposal. It's pretty obvious they tell him exactly what he can and can't do.

ol' retired doc
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February 14, 2012
What a joke! If you believe Lee at this juncture, I feel sorry for you. Look back at Lee's history and what do you see? Nov look forward to the next

election for commission chairperson and what do you see?

Phanton
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February 14, 2012
Tax and spend LIBERAL Lee, can you really believe

any thing that LIBERAL Deal says?
VFP42
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February 14, 2012
I will personally pay Tim Lie's toll if he uses the road to leave town for good.
FROM TEXAS
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February 14, 2012
Instead of throwing money at the chamber why don’t we give well deserved pay raises to the police department? Just stop some of the many studies that we waste millions on and the other businesses can put money into EDGE if it’s a great idea why do we need to fund it? Same for light rail if it’s so great why do we need to build it? Building light rail is like smoking crack and than you is hooked!!
anonymous
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February 14, 2012
-- RE: "...because not only is it the police department that has problems with morale, but each agency’s director around here will tell you that once a week, they’re having a conversation with somebody that’s just wondering, ‘When is it going to end?’” --

Hey Government employees. There are a lot of private sector folks who wish they could feel your "pain". They wish they had a job like yours that they could complain about. Unfortunately, they lost their jobs several months/years ago...and despite what our dear leader tells us (and what many rinos seem to accept as true), are seeing NO signs that things have/are getting any better.

BTW, as for all this talk about Cobb loosing Police officers because of low pay/no raises, I am still waiting to see the numbers for the police officers who are fleeing Cobb County. Also, am interested in knowing where they are going to that provides them the great opportunities that they can't find in Cobb.

Frankly, I am having a hard time believing that police officers are fleeing the relative safety of Cobb County for supposedly higher paid/better opportunities. Sounds like some government agency exaggerating to me...and that is rather disappointing to find coming from "professionals".
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