Re-Elect Bob Ott Cobb County Commissioner District 2
Cobb County Commission District 2 is a wonderful place to live, work, and play. That is what brought me here 25 years ago, and why my wife Judy and I chose to stay and start our family here. As District 2 continues to thrive I would like the opportunity to continue to serve you as your County Commissioner.
I look forward to working with our new Chairman to serve Cobb County. #gapol
It’s Not “Just Money,” It’s YOUR Money. How we manage it matters. Recently, much conversation in Cobb County has focused on the topics of the property tax millagerate, tax cuts, rate cuts and the budget. I wanted to take a moment to give you my thoughts on the Cobb County budget situation. Each July, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) sets the millage rate to pay the expenses for the current budget year, which is already 10 months into the process. This is because county taxes are collected at the end of the fiscal year. By law, the county is required to operate with a balanced budget. At the currently proposed rate of 6.66 mils, the anticipated tax collections will fall short of meeting the 2016 county expenses without using money from previous fund balances or operating reserves to make up the difference. Several years ago, as the “Great Recession” worsened, the BOC passed a tax increase to strengthen the county’s “rainy day” fund to better weather the storm. The higher tax income generated higher reserves and those reserves have grown as the economy has improved. Currently the county has more reserve funds than would have previously been considered “normal.” Because the income from the proposed rate of 6.66 mils will not meet the county’s expenses, to balance the budget, money would be needed from the reserve fund. While this works for one year, it cannot be sustained and maintain the reserve funds necessary to provide financial stability over the long run. The FY 2016 budget required an infusion from fund balances and a 6% Water System fund transfer to remain balanced. I support lowering your taxes – ultimately to the levels seen prior to the recession. However, the simple fact is that a rate of 6.66 mils cannot produce a balanced budget going forward. That means that the county must either raise additional revenue, cut expenses, or find new sources of one-time monies to fill the gap. The reserve funds being proposed for use this year to balance the budget must be considered one-time monies, because once spent, they will not be available for use for future budgets. In FY 2017, I believe we will see significant increases in personnel costs, to fund previously approved positions in the County Police and Sheriff’s departments that were not budgeted in the FY16. Additional funds will likely be needed to meet increases in both health care costs and amounts required to fund the county’s pension obligation. These two areas alone could require millions of additional dollars. The county has also committed to a Pay/Class study that could cost $4 to $10 million to cover proposed changes. Shortly, I will send my budget suggestions to the Chairman. Among other things, they will include: • that the BOC consider future maintenance and operations costs before approving new projects; • that the county look for technology alternatives, where possible; • that the county examine funding provided to non-profits; • that the county eliminate, not just defund,staff vacancies and not immediately replace departing employees, except at Public Safety. In addition, I have asked for a list of what costs are different today from 2008, since that is when the tax digest and the millage rates were similar to today. I remain committed to making Public Safety the prime focus of the county. To accomplish this, the BOC must make the tough decisions that keeps our community safe and our budget balanced. I thank you for your support and for your time to understand the fiscal challenges that face our county. Commissioner Bob Ott