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Local News Archives for 2022-06

Cherokee County Deputies Salaries get a Boost

The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office has increased its pay for sworn positions by nearly 20 percent, making it one of the leading sheriff’s offices in the metro area for law enforcement pay.

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved a 7 percent increase plus a flat $5,000 to POST-certified positions, making the salary scales more competitive in an increasingly competitive market. The starting salary for an uncertified deputy is $50,243 with excellent benefits, pension with a county match, paid uniforms and equipment, and programs for incentive pay.

“The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office is currently competing with every law enforcement agency in the state for qualified deputies. The commissioners’ decision to approve a 7 percent COLA and $5,000 increase in pay for deputies will not only help us attract new applicants to fill our 63 vacancies, it will also help us retain current deputies,” said Sheriff Frank Reynolds. “We are grateful to the commissioners and the citizens of Cherokee County for their continued support.”

This is the third year in a row the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners has acted to increase public safety salaries to assist in recruiting quality law enforcement officers to serve and protect the community.

“As a Board, we know public safety is the key to a great quality of life. We’re proud to have one of the finest Sheriff’s teams in the nation and thankful to them for keeping Cherokee the safest county in our region,” said Chairman Harry Johnston said. “We’re glad to be able to compensate them commensurately with their excellence.” Those interested in applying to join the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office should visit www.cherokeega-sheriff.org or email recruiter@cherokeega.com.

Cherokee County Public Works Announces Summer Paving Projects

Cherokee County motorists can expect to see some road delays with two resurfacing projects getting underway.

Work for the 2022 Resurfacing Project – Phase 2 is set to begin this week, with roads scheduled to be resurfaced in six different subdivisions, including Creekside Estates, Middlebrooke, Lovinggood Landing, BridgeMill, Sturbridge and Eagle Watch.

“Resurfacing work typically lasts about two weeks per road or per subdivision,” said Jim Wilgus, Cherokee County SPLOST Roadway Project Manager. “We ask that motorists allow for extra time and patience and to obey all work zone signage for their safety and the safety of all those in the work zone.”

Last month, Commissioners awarded a $3.37 million contract to Baldwin Paving Company to resurface 12.7 miles of county-maintained roadways as part of the 2022 Resurfacing Project – Phase 2 in addition to awarding the 2022 Resurfacing Project to Bartow Paving Company for $4.72 million to resurface 12.68 miles of county-maintained roadways.

The 2022 Resurfacing Project is set to begin on Monday, July 11 with sections of Arnold Mill Road and Hickory Road set to be resurfaced. The project list includes Hickory Road from the Holly Springs city limits to Ga. 140; Kellogg Creek Road, from Jacobs Road to Cedar Mill Road; Bells Ferry Road, from the Cobb County line to Ga. 92; Beavers Road, from East Cherokee Drive to Ga. 20; and Johnson Brady Road, from East Cherokee Drive to Ga. 20.

Funding for the 2022 Resurfacing Program comes from local Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds and Georgia Department of Transportation funds. GDOT awarded Cherokee County about $2.4 million through the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) program for road resurfacing with the remaining $2.3 million being paid for with SPLOST funds.

The resurfacing projects are subject to change depending on weather and other unknown factors. Resurfacing work is expected to take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., until the projects are complete.

The County Commission, at its retreat earlier this year, allocated $7 million additional SPLOST funds for roadway resurfacing in 2022.

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approve advertising lower millage rate, sets public hearings

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved advertising a proposed millage rate for the 2023 fiscal year, which reflects a reduction in the current millage rate to fund the county’s 2023 budget.

The advertised rate for Maintenance and Operations is 4.995, down 4.2 percent from the current millage rate of 5.212 mills. One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed value – a property’s assessed value is 40 percent of its fair market value. The Board cannot approve a rate more than the one that is advertised. The Board officially will set the millage rate in late July following three public hearings.

“Homeowners who have a homestead exemption will see at least a 4.2 percent decrease in the County Maintenance & Operation tax,” said Chairman Harry Johnston. “For that portion of the tax bill, those properties are protected from any increase in property value assessments. Their exemption amount automatically increases to keep their net taxable value the same.”

About 61 percent of the residential properties in Cherokee County have a homestead exemption.

For non-homestead properties, the County Maintenance & Operation tax will increase by the same percentage as their increase in property value assessment, minus the 4.2 percent rollback of the millage rate. For the average of all properties combined, the advertised rate represents an 8.4 percent increase from the state-calculated rollback rate of 4.609 mills.

At the June 21 regular meeting, District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter made the motion to advertise the rate of 4.995 mills, which was seconded by District 1 Commissioner Steve West. The motion was unanimously approved.

This will be the 11th consecutive year the Board of Commissioners has not increased the millage rate. In the last eight of 10 years, the Board has reduced the millage rate.

The total general fund budget (funded by the M&O millage rate) is estimated to be about $138 million, allowing for funding for the fourth Superior Court judge recently approved, but not fully funded, by the state, 7 percent cost-of-living increases for employees and 31 new positions countywide to better serve the community. Of the total general fund budget, 53.5 percent funds public safety, 20 percent funds judicial services; and 16 percent funds general administration. The remaining portions fund public works, culture and recreation, housing and development, and health and welfare.

The Board also is considering lowering the fire district millage rate to 2.984 mills, down from the current rate of 3.292 mills. The fire district budget, which is funded by the fire district millage rate, is estimated to total about $46 million and would fund 11 new positions and a 7 percent cost-of-living increase for fire personnel and staff.

For the parks bond millage rate, the Finance Department is recommending it be rolled back to 0.354 mills, down from 0.434 mills.

To illustrate the impact these millage rates would have on a homeowner, the Finance Department used an actual property in Cherokee County. The home, now valued at $482,300, experienced a 20 percent increase in value from 2021-22. That property has a homestead exemption, and the owner would see a decrease of $27 for the county M&O rate, a $46 increase for the fire fund and a $2 decrease for the parks bond.

The Board of Commissioners-controlled portion of tax bills include the maintenance and operations millage rate, as well as the fire district and parks bond. The fire district is only charged to unincorporated properties for fire service, and the parks bond is charged to all properties as determined by the 2008 voter-approved parks bond referendum. The collections from the parks bond rate repays the $90 million bond issued in 2009. The homestead exemption does not apply to either of these rates, however, the State Disability, State Disabled Veterans and surviving spouses, State CUVA (Farm Conservation Use), and State Brownfield exemptions apply to the fire district millage rate. These state exemptions also apply to the parks bond, in addition to the state age 65 (net income less than $10,000) exemption.

The Board of Commissioners does not control the School District tax rate or any millage rates set by local city jurisdictions.

The Board of Commissioners will hold three public hearings: July 5 at 6 p.m. and July 19 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Board is expected to adopt the three millage rates it controls at the July 19 meeting at 6 p.m

Cherokee County Public Input Meeting for Comprehensive Transportation Plan Scheduled for June 28

The second public meeting for the Cherokee County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) Update is set for Tuesday, June 28. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the Etowah Room at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center, located at 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.

During the meeting, the public will be able to learn about the CTP process and planned projects, as well as provide input on the final prioritization. The CTP Update will be the second update to the Cherokee County CTP originally adopted in 2008 and then subsequently updated in 2016. The CTP is a tool that county officials use for the planning and programming of transportation projects.

“The CTP is an important step in improvement of current and future roadways and transportation infrastructure of Cherokee County,” said County Manager Geoff Morton. “The CTP Update process has been a result of studying the feasibility, operations, need and use of SPLOST project lists. I encourage the public to attend the upcoming meeting to review the prioritized projects and provide feedback.”

For those who are unable to attend, all information presented at the in-person public meeting will be posted on the CTP project website following the meeting, www.CherokeeMoves.com. You can find previous public meeting materials from Dec. 8, 2021, on the same project site. To submit input online or receive updates, visit www.cherokeega.com and click on Cherokee Transportation Plan from the homepage or go directly to the project site by visiting www.CherokeeMoves.com.

Cherokee Top 10 in 10 Honorees Named

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is honored to announce the 2022 group of Cherokee County's Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch.

"The Top 10 in 10 initiative is designed to cultivate and showcase exceptional Cherokee County young professionals," said Pam Carnes, Chamber President and CEO. Coordinated by the Chamber, in partnership with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine, this recognition program focuses on Cherokee County residents under age 40 who are considered to be Cherokee County's up and coming leaders over the next 10 years.

"We were extremely pleased with the number and caliber of candidates for this year’s recognition. As we have grown accustomed to since this program’s inception in 2012, far more than 10 nominations were received and likewise, there were far more applications than honoree slots. Each application was carefully reviewed by a panel of judges that found the task of only choosing ten honorees challenging," shared Chamber Board Chair Brian Stevens, CEO & Co-Owner of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers. Judging criteria included past professional achievements and awards, five to ten-year professional goals as well as the nominees volunteer and community activities. Besides being recognized during the Chamber’s June Good Morning Cherokee breakfast meeting, the recipients will also be featured in the July/August issue of Enjoy Cherokee Magazine. The honorees who will be under the age of 40 on October 1 have been nominated for the prestigious GeorgiaTrend Magazine 40 Under 40 recognition.

The rising stars recognized as Cherokee County’s next generation of community leaders include (front row, l to r): Sandi Harrison, Principal, Liberty Elementary School/Cherokee Co. School District; Sarah Bowen, Pharmacy Operations Supervisor, Northside Hospital Cherokee; Bethany Watson, City Engineer, City of Canton; Marcie Smith, Executive Director, The Children’s Haven. (back row, l to r): Brady Cornelison, Captain & Paramedic, Cherokee Fire & Emergency Services; Rajpal Sagoo, Managing Partner, MDD Holdings; Jacob Sluder, Owner & Dentist, Dentistry of Olde Towne; Alyssa Rumsey Sheehan, Senior Project Manager, Center of Innovation for Manufacturing/Georgia Department of

Economic Development; Andy Smith, Attorney, Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP. Not pictured: Kyle Bennett, Tourism Manager, City of Woodstock.

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