Cherokee expects to see improvement in its credit rating
by Jessicah Peters
August 07, 2014 08:37 PM | 2306 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee County is expected to see a slight improvement in its Standard and Poor’s rating, Chief Financial Officer Janelle Funk told the Cherokee Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

Funk said she expects the county to receive an official AA+ with a positive outlook rating in the upcoming weeks, an upgrade from the current AA+ with a stable outlook.

Although the county did not receive a perfect score, Funk told commissioners the county is showing progress toward achieving the AAA rating.

“We were told it would be a big jump for us to move to a Triple A because we’re just now showing our progress. They’re going to want to see more next year,” Funk said. “They’re going to want to see our tax digest grow and make sure we are keeping the reserves where they need to be.”

The rating is based on the county’s ability and willingness to meet its financial obligations. The rating will reflect the county’s diverse local economy, participating in the greater Atlanta metropolitan statistical area; the growing property tax base; strong financial position; and low and manageable debt burden. 

Funk said Cherokee has the second lowest expenditures per capita in the metro Atlanta area. As the county continues to grow its tax digest, decrease unemployment rates and stay financially stable, Funk expects the rating to increase to AAA.

Conservation Design Community ordinance

In other news, the county mulled over changes to the setbacks and buffer requirements for the Conservation Design Community zoning ordinance Tuesday, but decided to delay the decision.

Director of Planning and Land Use Jeff Watkins suggested the commissioners approve an across the board 35-foot front setback on all properties within a Conservation Design Community.

“We adjusted the conservation zoning back in 2009 and now what we’re finding is that the developers have saw-tooth patterns along a street when they try to build in a Conservation Design Community. It makes the subdivision look really unusual and some developers have kind of backed off from trying to do the conservation design,” Watkins said. “Our suggestion is to establish a 35-foot setback period.”

Watkins also suggested to eliminate a portion of the ordinance that says cropland and pastures of five acres or more should have 75-foot setback.

“We have odd conversations about what a cropland or pasture is. Our suggestion is to remove that section completely in order not to confuse people,” Watkins said.

An across the board buffer number was also suggested by Watkins. He asked the commissioners to consider a 50-foot buffer instead of the adjustable buffers that coincide with the adjustable lot sizes.

“Everyone already thinks we have a 50-foot buffer in this design ordinance. The buffer will push everything to the center of the property, regardless of what you’re trying to conserve in green space,” Watkins said. “It’ll give the developer more flexibility to design the community.”

Commissioner Harry Johnston was concerned that the county is now going to the minimum buffer amount instead of a number in the middle.

Chairman Buzz Ahrens also expressed similar concerns while Commissioner Ray Gunnin shared that he wanted a bigger buffer.

Commissioner Jason Nelms made the motion to defer the decision until the Aug. 19 meeting.

In other business, the county:

•Approved a lease agreement with Goodwill of North Georgia to operate the Hobgood Recycling Center. Goodwill will pay the county $6,500 per month for the use of the center as a donation drop off location;

•Approved a development agreement with Oak Hall Companies for improvements to Trickum Road, north of Arnold Mill in the amount of $137,500;

•Approved a proposal from River Sand, Inc. to perform lake dredging at Crabapple Falls Lake in the amount of $97,990;

•Approved design services with Southeastern Engineering Inc. for redesign of Kellogg Creek Road at Woodstock Road intersection improvement project in the amount of $31,500;

•Approved an intersection improvement project design services contract with BM&K Construction and Engineering for design of the Wyngate Parkway at Bascomb Elementary in the amount of $23,000; and

•Approved Pond & Company to design the intersection improvement project at East Cherokee Drive at Dean Rusk Middle School in the amount of $56,850.

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