David Montanye, director of the Cobb Department of Transportation, will ask the board to approve work authorization for the 2005 Transportation Improvements Program. The board will vote to allow all transportation projects for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax-funded program from January 2010 through December 31, 2011, to not exceed $10,258,140.60. This will be the final work authorization the board will vote on for the six-year program.
"The board awarded the contract to PBS&J in 2005 and set the program up for the budget to be voted on every two years," Montanye said. "Over the course of the program, the total value of the projects will be lower simply because construction costs have been lowered due to the economy. The amount that is expected to be approved cannot be exceeded over the next two years. There is a strong chance construction costs will continue to be lowered, so we may come under that number, or if SPLOST collections drop, then some projects will not happen, so those costs would not be incurred. Should the amount be expected to go over at any point, I would have to go back to the board for approval."
The first work authorization totaled $7,872,000, because of light construction in the first two years, Montanye said. The second work authorization, which covered 2008 and 2009, totaled $11,876,130.10.
The board is also expected to authorize an additional $2.35 million to the county's pension trust fund. County spokesman Robert Quigley said the money will be pulled from the county's health and dental fund, as this fund has more money than is needed. This money is needed to cover the estimated annual pension cost for calendar year 2009 to guarantee the long-term health of the pension trust fund.
The board is also expected to offer a resolution in the county's ongoing feud with Shiloh United Methodist Church in Kennesaw.
The county is widening Jiles Road so three lanes of traffic can turn left onto Cherokee Street, directly in front of the church. The county has purchased the third of an acre it needs for $295,740, but the pastor Bill Floyd said that is not enough money for the church to relocate and rebuild. He says the road will sit 60 feet from the church's front door, which will pose a hazard to church members and keep the church from growing in the future.
The driveway and its traffic light have been hot-button issues for the negotiations, as the county has said the driveway cannot be used if the land is sold as a commercial property. Floyd said a developer backed out of a $3.3-million contract with the church because the county made that stipulation after the contract was signed.
The board is expected to approve a stipulation Tuesday that would allow the church to keep the driveway and traffic light as long as it operates as a church. Quigley said the agreement first has to be approved by the board, and then it will go to the city of Kennesaw for approval before the county asks the church to sign the agreement.
Floyd said this will not put an end to the ongoing litigation, however, which is set to go to trail in January.
"I think their thinking is that this will play well to a jury, but if we sell the property, which we will have to do for our church to survive, then that goes away. So we're back to where we started," Floyd said. "The county has just been back and forth with us, dragging their feet and creating unnecessary fees because of it. We've paid over $100,000 just in lawyer fees because they keep telling us something then doing something else, and that's a lot of money for our tiny little church. We're running $2,000 in the red every month, and in order to grow and attract more members, there's no possible way we can stay there. We have to sell the land with the road widening, but it's impossible with what the county's doing."
Floyd said the county used the Journal's October article detailing the issue during Floyd's deposition, accusing the pastor of playing the suit out in the public rather than the courts.
The board is also expected to authorize the purchase a replacement fire engine for the Fire Department. Engine #6 was considered a total loss after being inundated with floodwaters in September
Nick Autorino, program manager for the Cobb Development Block Grant (CDBG) will ask to board to reinstate funding to Cobb Housing, Inc. through the Home Investment Partnerships Act (HOME) program.
Autorino said that the county reimburses funds to Cobb Housing through the HOME program, but a June audit of Cobb Housing showed that the group was not being honest in its submissions to the county regarding funds used in south Cobb's Mitchell Chase Subdivision.
"The county has a legal agreement with them to pay a certain amount of any surplus of income they receive through their affordable housing programs. They had told us that they had a loss on the project, but our records didn't match with what they were telling us so they hired an auditor and he actually found that there was an excess of funds from the project. We used our own auditor for it, and he found almost the exact amount that was supposed to have been turned into the county," Autorino said.
Cobb Housing submitted a repayment of $33,799 on Nov. 24, and Autorino said the county is expected to resume reimbursements to the group. The county was withholding its funds until the check was given to the county.