Live with the Cobb Commission
The county board is meeting April 26 to set the five furlough days for the rest of this fiscal year, among other things.
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners is holding its monthly night meeting tonight at 7 in the boardroom at 100 Cherokee St., just off Marietta Square. The biggest issue on the agenda is the official setting of five furlough days to help balance the budget for the fiscal year that runs through Sept. 30. The board approved the five-day furlough as part of the plan to close a projected $27.1 million deficit at its meeting April 12, when the libraries were saved, two senior centers were lost, and the county's reserve fund took a big hit. Patch's Holly Roberson is covering tonight's meeting live on Twitter (@EastCobbPatch), while most of the other Cobb Patches will be retweeting (check the Twitter feed for a Patch near you). We'll compile the tweets here within minutes for further comment and contemplation. The full agenda is attached for your reading pleasure. You also can watch the meeting live on cable TV 23 or on demand on the county website.
Thanks for joining us for the live coverage of the commissioner meeting. The board approved the five furlough days as proposed, and the board heard a lot of complaints about the closing of the Senior Day Center in Marietta and about the funding and operation of the animal shelter.
The families using the day center got a reprieve of one week, so they have until May 6 instead of this Friday to find new accommodations for the seniors who need the high level of care there. Based on the shouts at Commissioner Tim Lee after he mentioned the new deadline, that change did not appease anyone.
9:05 p.m. And we are adjourned.
9:04 p.m. Lee: "We've had a rough month in April for a lot of reasons," but he praises law enforcement, the DOT and others involved in cleaning up after the storms that keep hitting. He mentions that another big storm is expected Wednesday.
9:02 p.m. The commissioners now get to make announcements.
8:59 p.m. A new speaker says the commissioners needed to show more compassion for the elderly.
8:56 p.m. A new speaker speaks on behalf of the animal shelter. He says there is no finer operation in the state.
8:55 p.m. One speaker says he has a proposition that might help save the senior centers. He offers partnering with the private sector as an option.
8:51 p.m. From MzToyzTweetz (Yolanda Westbrook): "When it comes to where is best for Seniors, it's really a coin toss. They've been getting screwed over a lot!"
8:49 p.m. From MzToyzTweetz (Yolanda Westbrook): "Yeah, it was said both Cobb & Gwinnett counties were the best at one time. Now, it's about where you're happy."
8:45 p.m. A new speaker is here about animal control. She wants to know why there isn't more publicity about the animals that need homes.
8:42 p.m. The taxes that we pay need to go to things that matter like senior citizens and animals, the speaker says.
8:40 p.m. Half of the staff at the animal shelter needs to be fired, the speaker says. The animals get better attention from volunteers than staff.
8:37 p.m. She is speaking about the animal shelter and rebuts Lee's comments about the animals not being put down. She says she's there and she was there last weekend and saw animals being killed for no reason. (Remember, the animal shelter is competing for a grant of up to $100,000, based on first Internet voting and now increasing numbers of adoptions.)
8:36 p.m. The first speaker picks up on Lee's comments about Cobb being the best place to live. "It used to be a great place to live," she says. How can you cut services for seniors?
8:36 p.m. After a long discussion by Lee about the budget cuts, the shared pain and the continuing services, we're on to the second comment period.
8:36 p.m. Lee says that he appreciates all the sacrifices the county employees have made.
8:33 p.m. Lee says there are three departments that don't fall under the county manager. And while the board can cut the 10 percent, they can't tell the sheriff, the courts and the tax commissioner's office how to come up with the savings. He's been told that they are all working hard to meet their target in various ways. Police and fire will not be sacrificed. They will juggle the furlough days so that there is adequate coverage, Lee says.
8:28 p.m. The board approves the five proposed furlough days: May 27, June 17, July 1, Aug. 5 and Sept. 1, all Fridays. Public safety will spread furloughs throughout the remaining fiscal year rather than shut down on those days.
8:23 p.m. A woman in the audience begins to shout, "They are going to die" over and over again after Lee's comments about the Senior Day Center. There is huge applause as the group of supporters leaves the boardroom. The group vows to protest outside after an officer approaches them. Lee gets up and gets a drink of water.
8:22 p.m. A woman in the audience shouts at Lee, "Why weren't we given any notice?"
8:21 p.m. Lee says the deadline for closing the day center is being extended one week to May 6.
8:20 p.m. Tim Lee says the staff spent a lot of time considering different options. It is unfortunately a decision we don't like to make, he says.
8:19 p.m. We would like more consideration. It's final. We're not here just for show, the speaker says.
8:17 p.m. They are getting thrown out Friday, the speaker says.
8:17 p.m. She's been looking at other places for her mother. She introduces her mother and the other Day Center patrons in the crowd.
8:16 p.m. The new speaker is in support of the Senior Day Center. She feels that the day center and the Windy Hill Senior Center got dealt a low blow.
8:15 p.m. A young boy gets up to talk about the animal shelter. The shelter needs the resources it has and more, he says.
8:13 p.m. She says her mother died in 2007, but she is still here to speak for the center.
8:10 p.m. A new speaker says the Senior Day Center was a lifeline for her and her husband when they took over taking care of her mother, who died several years ago.
8:05 p.m. Lee says if people would stop dropping animals off and would adopt animals, the problems of increased animals at the shelter would cease.
8:04 p.m. Chairman Tim Lee says the rumors are untrue. There is no plan to euthanize more animals.
8:04 p.m. That speech is met with a loud round of applause. (Lee responds that the Internet rumors about killing hundreds of animals because of the budget cuts are false.)
8:02 p.m. If you are going to kill 50 percent of the animals, then lay off 50 percent of the people who work there, the speaker says.
8 p.m. The new speaker says the cuts to the animal shelter are going to be devastating to the animals. She's heard rumors about killing half the animals.
7:58 p.m. The speaker says why not open late or close early. "Explain to me why they were just cut off," she says, receiving applause.
7:57 p.m. The new speaker says she has a family member who uses the day center. She wants the commissioners to reconsider their decision.
7:56 p.m. She gets applause from most of the crowd when she is finished.
7:55 p.m. The first speaker says the center is a lifeline for elderly people. Her mother gets all dressed up, excited because she gets to see her friends.
7:52 p.m. Public comments are starting in favor of the Senior Day Center. There is a need to extend the deadline of closing Friday at the very least, the first speaker says, explaining that it's physically impossible to find alternative care for the seniors who need the high level of care provided by the center, which deals with people with dementia.
7:50 p.m. Speaker Amy Barnes says she is opposed to spending any more money on studies, to applause from the audience. She also wins applause when she says the money could better be spent on the closing senior centers.
7:49 p.m. A public hearing opens prior to hiring a consultant for the development of the Six Flags Activity Center Study. (Both speakers oppose the study, citing the cost of more than $100,000 and arguing that the study isn't needed or could be done in house.)
7:46 p.m. Ott recognizes an Eagle Scout who built a set of stairs at a church.
7:43 p.m. The commissioners recognize a mentoring program at Sprayberry High School involving the Northeast Cobb Business Association.
7:30 p.m. The commissioners recognize a CCT bus driver (during the same week Cobb Community Transit is holding meetings about planned fare increases and service cuts).
7:24 p.m. The commissioners present a proclamation to LifeLink of Georgia, which aids in transplants.
7:19 p.m. Chairman Tim Lee recognizes Toastmasters on the Square by declaring May 8-14 as Toastmaster Week. (He jokes about his need for their services as he stumbles to read the proclamation.)
7:17 p.m. Commissioner Woody Thompson recognizes an Eagle Scout who helped repair a two-family cemetery that was in bad shape.
7:12 p.m. Commissioner Helen Goreham of District 1 in Northwest Cobb gives a proclamation to the Success for All Students Project, which provides mental health services to youngsters.
7:08 p.m. The invocation and Pledge of Allegiance are done. Now it's time for various presentations and proclamations. (Last meeting, we had a proclamation declaring April 19 Patriots Day in Cobb, with recognition for the Sons of the American Revolution, but you'd never know we won independence with all the coverage of this Friday's British royal wedding.)
6:59 p.m. The day center is scheduled to close Friday as one of many cost-cutting measures the commissioners approved earlier this month.
6:56 p.m. We're live at the Cobb County commissioners meeting. The audience is filling up. Lots of signs supporting the Senior Day Center.