Oden to focus on what lies ahead in 2012 for State of the County address

Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden

Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden

CONYERS -- Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden plans to focus on the future in his fourth State of the County address next week with the theme "Reuniting, Rebuilding and Reenergizing Rockdale."

The address will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Rockdale County Auditorium, at 903 N. Main St. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Typically, the annual speech is used to list accomplishments and set the agenda for the county in the coming year.

Oden said in an email response to questions the address will be "an exciting and informative one hour of power" and will discuss challenges facing the county along with some of the successes.

The economy continues to affect local government and schools as tax revenues drop due to the lingering effects of the mortgage crisis and recession of 2008.

County property values declined for the third year in a row with foreclosures driving the market. The 16.91 mills approved last year was the second tax increase in a row, yet property values kept tax revenue down.

The Board of Commissioners approved a 2012 General Fund budget of $55.7 million, which was higher than the previous year by about $3 million. However, officials described the budget as Spartan since an effort was made to keep up funding for public safety and law enforcement.

The BOC approved the creation in December of a 1,909-acre urban development area that runs from the Conyers city limits west along Rockdale Industrial Boulevard to the DeKalb County line and takes in property along Plunkett, Sigman and Lester roads to the north and along Iris Drive to the south.

The effort is done in partnership with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and is designed to redevelop an old part of the county with tax credit incentives available for new jobs created in the area.

Oden will also likely touch upon the success of the county's Neighborhood Stabilization Program that purchases and rehabilitates foreclosed properties and sells them to qualified homebuyers.

The program offers up to $14,500 in Homebuyer Assistance plus 5 percent closing costs for qualified homebuyers.

The county NSP began in 2009 after it received a $2.7 million grant. In November, the county announced it had received an additional $1 million grant to continue funding the county's NSP. The grant originates from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered in Georgia by the Department of Community Affairs.

Also, the recipient of the Charlie P. Cole Citizen Involvement Award is traditionally announced at the annual State of the County address.

The Board of Commissioners established the award in 2004 in honor of the late Charlie Cole, a longtime activist and north Rockdale resident. The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding, civic-minded individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to the betterment of Rockdale County.