Tim Lee acted like a man seeking four more years as Cobb County’s top elected official when he delivered his State of the County address Monday morning.
The chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners led a crowd of nearly 400 business and political leaders through the county’s economic struggles and successes of the past year and celebrated where the county sits now.
“Cobb County is ready for anything 2012 may throw at it,” Lee said, because the board under his leadership did what was necessary in 2011.
“All who choose Cobb because of its greatness—its greatness I truly believe will continue with the right leadership,” he said during his speech to a Cobb Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
He acknowledged that when he delivered his first State of the County address in February 2011, he said the county would not raise taxes.
But the commissioners at his urging raised the total millage rate by 1.51 mils on a 3-2 vote in July after cutting the size of the county government.
The property tax increase came after county voters narrowly passed a four-year, 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in March to finance repairs and maintenance of county infrastructure.
That measure, expected to raise $492 million over four years, was promoted as a way to keep property taxes down.
“I believe for the long term they were the right decisions for this county,” Lee said.
Those moves allowed Cobb to remain one of 36 counties in the nation with a AAA bond rating, Lee said, while protecting its status as a low-tax county with the smallest budget and fewest employees in metro Atlanta.
“Cobb County is still, and will continue to be, the best place to live, work (and) play,” Lee said.
Lee rose to commission chairman in 2010 after two-term Chairman Sam Olens resigned to run for state attorney general, which he won.
Lee has said he is running for re-election as chairman this year, and he gave no hint Monday that he’s having second thoughts.
Instead, he used the occasion to promote another sales tax referendum: the 10-year, 10-county Transportation SPLOST scheduled to go before voters in July.
“I believe we must pass this referendum for Cobb’s future,” Lee said. He called on the audience to follow the Chamber’s lead in supporting the penny sales tax to address some of the county’s major transportation problems, including a workable alternative to cars.
“Consider what happens should the initiative fail,” he said. “There is no Plan B. We will have more of the same.”