May 27—MARIETTA — Cobb County Chairwoman Lisa Cupid told the Kiwanis Club of Marietta she "anticipates we will not have a millage (rate) increase this year" at the club's weekly meeting Thursday.
Cupid said a booming housing market has helped buoy the county's tax digest, with rising residential property values offsetting a still-struggling commercial sector. The digest—which the MDJ previously reported grew an estimated 5.5% in 2020—should cover rising costs of pension plans and healthcare for county employees.
County finance director Bill Volckmann said the county should have the final digest numbers by the end of June. The digest will not be certified until a millage rate is approved by the Board of Commissioners at their last meeting in July.
Since taking office, Cupid has emphasized the need to invest in capital maintenance projects and better compensate county employees to improve retention rates. But the board's approval of some spending items this year has prompted west Cobb Commissioner Keli Gambrill, who voted against a number of those items, to speculate a hike could be coming.
"If you look at the spending habits right now of this current board," Gambrill told the MDJ last month, "we're allocating or voting to do things that we don't have funding for. So the only way to cover that in the future is to once again raise the millage rate."
Cupid sought to dispel those concerns in her remarks Thursday.
"As some of you may know, I'm different. I'm a Democrat," Cupid said. "And Democrats typically don't serve in Cobb County, and the way that people typify Democrats is, you are the party that likes to spend.
"There is a presumption that people who look a certain way may not know how to handle their finances ... I didn't want the negative portrayal of what it means to be a Democrat, of what it means to be African American, of what it means to be a woman, to paint new leadership that's on the board," she added.
While Cupid was sympathetic to some of the concerns that have prompted a rash of cityhood movements—"I know that this is a grassroots effort, and people want autonomy in their communities"—on the whole, the chairwoman found the trend surprising, she said.
"There's been so much reticence about us investing in the county, but yet you have to invest in a new city ... I'm hearing people want services that we're not providing at the county. We could have provided you with those services, but we thought you didn't want full services."