“They all want to know what the Atlanta Braves now know,” Lee said. “That Cobb County is the place to do business. We have well-positioned ourselves to achieve the long-term goals of increasing jobs, increasing investments and constructing a progressive economic impact for Cobb County. It is imperative that we all take part in its execution and success.”
Lee gave his State of the County address at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre as the crowd enjoyed breakfast. A Braves’ baseball cap sat perched beside each glass of orange juice.
The chairman called 2013 a very good year, as investments in the county began to reach pre-recession levels with new home starts, remodeling and property values.
“All indications are that Cobb County has turned the corner and in 2014 we are on our way to very healthy levels for all revenue streams,” he said.
Lee compared Cobb to neighboring cities and counties.
Cobb’s millage rate in fiscal 2013 was 10.91 compared to Fulton’s 10.48, Gwinnett’s 13.75, DeKalb’s 21.21 and Atlanta’s 23.48 mills.
Cobb has 4,499 full-time employees, compared to Fulton’s 5,084, Gwinnett’s 4,469, DeKalb’s 7,256 and Atlanta’s 8,487.
And Cobb’s total operating and capital budget for fiscal 2014 was $815.2 million compared to Fulton’s $866.1 million, DeKalb County’s $1.3 billion, Gwinnett’s $1.5 billion, and Atlanta’s $1.9 billion, he said.
The county’s conservative planning and quality staff continue to see it granted a triple-A rating from all three credit-rating agencies for the 17th year, one of only 39 counties in the U.S. to have that rating.
“In addition to the Atlanta Braves, we brought in 16 new business announcements, more than 1,087 new jobs and investments of $41 million just last year,” Lee said, naming Infosys and Talenti as examples.
“An indicator that the business climate is good in Cobb County is the decisions of Randstad staffing and Arylessence to expand their existing business,” he said.
Lee didn’t mention last week’s resignation of public safety director Jack Forsythe, but he did pledge to have the best people, training and equipment and the most competitively compensated public safety team. He intends to ask the Cobb Board of Commissioners to hire Fire Chief Sam Heaton as the new public safety director at today’s board meeting.
Commenting on the talk after the program, Mike Plant, executive vice president of business operations for the Atlanta Braves, said Lee’s comments demonstrate the strength of the community and county.
“They have a focus on creating really economically viable partnerships that create impact for the citizens here that produce certainly a lot of job opportunity, and also we’re going to be a big part of that quality of life going forward and for a long time,” Plant said. “We didn’t make this move without a lot of thought, not only short term/long term, but we’re really pleased every day makes more and more sense for this to be our new home, so we’re happy to be here.”
Cobb Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said it was good news to hear how well the county government was doing.
“It would be nice to say that the district is doing as well as the county, but we’ll work as a board to continue to service our community and our students, so we’re ready to work,” Angelucci said.
The school district has been struggling to plug what Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says is a $79 million funding shortfall.