Like many of you, my wife Karen and I moved our family to Cherokee County, for the great quality of life.
Cherokee County is a special place and I want to preserve our unique character.
As your County Commissioner for District 3, I will continue to take a commonsense approach along with hard work to ensure that we all continue to enjoy a great quality of life here in Cherokee County.
Benny on the issues:
Growth and Development
Over-development diminishes our quality of life in many ways; traffic, crime, over-crowded classrooms in our schools, and the taxes that we pay.
Cherokee County has a comprehensive land-use plan which allows the county to plan for future growth and the infrastructure needed to support the additional population. A land-use plan provides a level of predictability into the future for residents and businesses by separating incompatible land uses. Land-use planning is also important for the environment, it allows the county to provide protection for our natural resources.
A land-use plan is an important tool for controlling future growth, but only if it is followed by the decision makers. Prior to 2007, many of the decisions in re-zoning cases did not follow the land-use plan. The population of Cherokee County grew by 51.1% from the year 2000 to 2010. That level of growth is not sustainable which is why our infrastructure, primarily our roads, do not meet the needs of the population.
As your District 3 County Commissioner for the last 10 months, I have followed the county comprehensive land-use plan, applying a conservative interpretation and I have worked to establish open lines of communication and better working relationships with the cities.
Cherokee County is perfectly positioned for job growth, in fact the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) projected that Cherokee will lead the Metro Atlanta area in job growth through 2040.
I fully support economic development growth, it is vital to our future and our quality of life. Bringing new quality jobs here to Cherokee will allow more of our residents to live and work here in the county increasing their quality of life. They will spend less time commuting and have more time to spend with their family. Increasing economic development will also help the county balance the tax digest. The additional tax revenue will allow the county to complete much needed road improvement projects sooner.
The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) has had an impressive history of success. As an active member of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and as the Chairman of the Workforce Development Council for the last eight years, I have the skills and the knowledge to support the continued success of COED.
Traffic and Infrastructure
Cherokee County’s transportation infrastructure affects each citizen’s quality of life. Our roads connect us to our neighbors and the community, but they are also the pathways to stimulate economic development and progress of our county. It is vitally important for us to improve the roads and ease the traffic congestion.
The traffic we face today is a direct result of past over-development. The most congested roadways here in Cherokee County are State Highways. The county has a comprehensive plan for our transportation needs. The plan takes the rating of the roadway under consideration to determine the priority. The rating is based on congestion and safety issues. The timeline for completing each project is based on the financial resources available. For road projects to be completed sooner we need to find revenue sources to fund the much-needed improvements.
One source for additional funding is economic development, the tax revenue from the business community will help to balance our tax digest. We are fortunate that Cherokee County is experiencing business growth that will add revenue to the county’s budget. We must continue to grow with new businesses here in Cherokee County.
We are fortunate to have the very best across the board with our public safety. Our Sheriff’s Office, our County Marshal’s office and our E-911 Communication Center are nationally accredited, our EMS Agency was awarded Agency of the Year and our Fire Department is ranked in the top 4% percent nationwide. In 2018, our Fire Department earned an ISO rating of 2. The benefit to homeowners and business owners is substantial reductions in their property insurance.
I fully support our public safety departments. These men and women work tirelessly to ensure that we are protected and secure each day. I feel that these dedicated individuals deserve competitive compensation and they should have first rate equipment to keep them safe as they protect and serve our citizens.
The Cherokee County School District is one of the top school districts in the state and in the nation. Excellent public schools are the number one consideration for future economic growth and for property values.
Decisions made by our county commissioners on growth impact the school district. The county land-use plan is used as a guide to forecast the locations for new schools. If the county commission approves development in an area that is not shown in the plan, it will create overcrowding in nearby schools until the district is able to fund the construction of new schools.
I will always support the Cherokee County School District; their success is our success. As a commissioner the most important way I can support the school district is to follow our land-use plan.
Cherokee County has the lowest tax burden in the metro area and the fifth lowest out of 159 counties statewide. Cherokee County has the second lowest number of employees per capita in the metro area. I will continue to support fiscal responsibility, a balanced tax digest and lower taxes here in Cherokee County.
Support for our Veterans
Many of our veterans have fallen on hard times, far too many are homeless. As a community, we must find new ways to support the men and women that put their lives on the line to fight for the freedom we all enjoy.
In 2012 the state launched a program; Operation Workforce to provide veterans the resources to translate their military training into civilian occupations. These are the types of programs we can support and make a difference in our Veterans lives.
Support for our Seniors
ARC forecasts show a substantial increase in our senior population to the year 2040. I have served as a board member of the Cherokee County Volunteer Aging Council since 2004. I have first-hand knowledge to be able to meet the needs of our growing senior population.
As a manager, I developed excellent listening and problem-solving skills. As your commissioner, I will always be accessible to listen to your concerns and work to find solutions. I have hosted regular town-hall meetings that have been well attended and productive. I have been available and will continue to communicate with you using social media, email, telephone conversations and personal meetings. I will continue to reach out to residents and business owners of District 3 to keep you informed on the current issues.
I have worked to establish open lines of communication with the cities here in Cherokee County. Holly Springs Mayor, Steve Miller and I held a joint Town Hall Meeting for city and county residents. City residents are also residents of the county and it is important that city and county governments work together in the best interest of all residents and business owners.
With the increase in population that we have experienced here in Cherokee County, the role of county commissioner has become more of a full-time position. I am retired, so I have the time available to work full-time as your commissioner.
Quality of Life
We have a great quality of life here in Cherokee! One of the measures in determining quality of life is the tax burden. We have the lowest tax burden in the metro area and the 5th lowest taxes in the state.
Cherokee County scores high on all the measures considered in determining the quality of life of a community.
- Excellent Public Schools, ranked #1 in Metro Atlanta Region and #6 statewide
- Nationally Accredited Sheriff’s Office
- Nationally Accredited Marshal’s Office (Only 4 in Georgia)
- Nationally Accredited E-911 Communication Center
- EMS Agency of the Year – Georgia 2017
- Fire Department – ranked in the top 4% of Fire Departments nationwide
- Healthcare – Northside Hospital-Cherokee opened $300 million hospital
- Parks & Recreation – 2,443 acres of parks and green-space, meeting the recreational needs of all ages
- Water & Sewer – Georgia #1 Waste Water and Water Treatment Plants of the year