Recovery and raises rate as successes in Richardson's town hall

·3 min read

Jul. 16—CUMBERLAND — If there's any love lost between Commissioner Jerica Richardson and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce after their row earlier this year, it didn't show Thursday night.

"This organization did so much during the pandemic to assist the county, to work with us, to make sure that the trains were still running ... and I want to say thank you to the chamber," Richardson said at her 'District 2 Q2' town hall held at the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Presenting an award to Chamber CEO Sharon Mason, the two shared an embrace that capped off a theme of the night—the public-private partnerships that seem the defining feature of what makes District 2 tick.

Richardson shared the stage, as she did in her first town hall, with a host of guests for her quarterly update. Not one to leave her constituents under-informed, the marathon event covered topics far and wide, from state legislation, zoning, and parks, to the "crawling burglar" nabbed by Cobb Police in June.

Indicators across the county—be they a booming real estate market, the revival of Cobb's entertainment centers, or the expansion of county services—point to a strong post-pandemic recovery for the district, Richardson and her peers said.

"I've said many times, thank God we live in Georgia," said Braves Development Company President and CEO Mike Plant, who added The Battery Atlanta expects to see around 9 million visitors in 2021.

Mason, meanwhile, said she looked forward to the openings this year of the headquarters of Papa John's, Chicken Salad Chick, and ThyssenKrupp in the Battery—"historic announcements" that she credited to "a tremendous effort in partnership with the county."

Richardson counted as one of her early wins the public safety raise included in the fiscal year 2022 budget, set to be approved by the board at the end of this month. All workers covered by the county's step-and-grade plan will be moved up a 'step,' and the budget will take steps to address pay 'compression,' whereby career employees experience diminishing returns in pay compared with new hires.

"What we are happy to say is, there is no millage increase," Richardson said. "The primary things that we're accomplishing with the leftover on the tax digest is addressing public safety recruitment and retention."

On the row with the chamber, which erupted in May when the Board of Commissioners approved a condo development within Dobbins Air Reserve Base's Accident Potential Zone, Richardson hinted more news could be in the pipeline.

"There are certainly conversations taking place right now about a land swap, as you may have heard ... do know that these are active discussions, and we are all looking for ways to remedy this particular situation," Richardson said, adding after the event all she'd heard was "that discussions (are) taking place."

County spokesperson Ross Cavitt told the MDJ Friday, "That is one of many items that have come up involving this situation, however there are no details to report at this time."

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