Accomplishments of 2010, public safety, and the T-SPLOST referendum were the focus of comments made during the State of the County address Monday evening.
The Charles P. Cole Citizen Involvement award went to SPLOST Citizens Oversight committee active members Mike Houchard and Fred Straub, who was not able to make it to the address. Tuskegee airman Val Archer was also recognized.
Matt Hicks, with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, opened the evening by speaking about the regional transportation 1 cent sales tax referendum, sometimes called the T-SPLOST, and the potential for economic growth with transportation investments.
The counties in the metro-Atlanta region are essentially facing the question of “what do you want to be when you grow up” in the question of the T-SPLOST, said Hicks.
“Right now, we don’t know whether the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said. He pointed out that the list of projects has not been drawn up and urged the audience to think of the vote in terms of jobs and economic growth instead of dollars in and out.
After a video on the business and employees of Rockdale County, commission Chairman and county CEO Richard Oden spoke of the county’s accomplishments in 2010.
“Our state of the county in 2010 was very strong,” said Oden.
Walking across the stage, he highlighted the finance department, Rockdale Water Resources, Clerk of Courts Ruth Wilson’s Jury Week, the 3700 calls handed by animal control in 2010, the stimulus-grant funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the 12 families that bought homes through it, and the green concept focus program. Rockdale had recently signed an agreement with DeKalb County for sewage processing that would increase RWR’s processing capacity from 250,000 gallons a day to 375,000 gallons a day.
He also mentioned the accomplishments and strategic planning of the Rockdale County School System. “Strategic planning and goal setting works,” he said.
He also highlighted the efforts of residents, such as the Town Hall meeting organized by Iffat Walker, Josie Dean, and Sam Smiley after the GameStop and house party shootings last November, and the efforts of non-profits such as Ceek to Fulfill – the group that has recently been at the center of heated debate by the Board of Commissioners over the funding of non-profits. The BOC did not end up funding Ceek to Fulfill.
The focus for 2011 would be in public safety and the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department, “reliable and efficient county services,” and transparency, said Oden.
“We have done away with the days of the handshake agreement behind closed doors,” he said.
He closed with President Barak Obama's remarks on becoming better in our private lives and discourse made during a tribute service for the victims in the recent Tucson shooting and attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
“First and foremost we are all Americans. We can question one another’s ideals without questioning our love of country,” said Oden.