Happy New Year! Let’s pray and work together to make it a great one.
Last month, I covered what the board of commissioners completed in 2021. Now, let’s look at the 2022 to-do list.
First, voters approved renewal of the school SPLOST, and we expect to put the renewal/continuation of the county SPLOST for nonschool projects, for 2024-2030, on the November ballot. That’s the last scheduled election before the current six-year SPLOST expires. At least half of the proceeds will go to county road improvements. The Cherokee County Justice Center, which seemed huge when it was finished 27 years ago, now is packed to the rafters and also must be expanded. Remaining funds largely will go to parks and public safety facilities and equipment.
Next, state funding for the Bells Ferry widening and bridge work has been delayed, postponing those projects at least a year. We must make sure there are no further delays to those projects. We need to line up funding for the rest of our planned interim improvements to Highway 140, to allow it to function acceptably until the state can widen it in the mid 2030s. We must make the most of the update to our Comprehensive Transportation Plan, our long-term guide to road work, and the funding necessary for it.
It’s time for a state-mandated update to the county’s Land Use Plan (the guide for managing the county’s growth and development during the next 25 years, and the template for future zoning decisions). We need to join with the cities to make it a true countywide plan. Full city-county cooperation on growth will be far more effective than our often-disjointed efforts of the past.
Additionally, we need to figure out how best to leverage available federal dollars to help the homeless people in our county, and get that work started. We need to determine the best location for the courthouse parking deck, building it to make way for the main expansion. We need to implement a planned adjustment to the county’s pension plan for new employees, to lower its long-term cost.
Overall, we must never let up and continue to pursue our triple goals:
- Manage the county’s growth to preserve quality of life.
- Keep infrastructure and services up with the growth.
- Keep taxes among the lowest in Georgia.
As always, I’m interested in your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Harry Johnston is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners. He’s a retired CPA and accounting manager, and a former district commissioner.