Focal points for Blueprint Polk are public safety, workforce/education, leadership development and economic development.
The project’s structure will be developed at scheduled meetings during the next two months. Once these are held, an outline of action items will be presented to stakeholders.
As part of this process, the strategic plan’s visioning committee will remain intact. Many of these community leaders have indicated they wish to be a part of developing Blueprint Polk.
Skip Teaster, with The University of Georgia Fanning Institute, served as moderator for Thursday’s strategic plan meeting.
Other speakers were Kathleen Cason, Emmett Shaffer, Jared Bybee and Tyler Reinage.
Cedartown City Commissioner Dale Tuck lauded the work that has been accomplished and President Eric McDonald, Development Authority of Polk County, emphasized that the meeting was a discussion, and not a presentation.
Reinagel reviewed the tax digest and community services expectations. He focused on diminishing property taxes and noted the following:
It costs local government $1.31 to deliver services for every $1.00 generated by property taxes. This total excludes the schools.
Commercial, industrial, forest and farm property are moneymakers. For these, the demand for services is less for each dollar that is collected in taxes.
In Polk, property taxes make up 44 percent of the revenue. Other property tax revenue percentages include: school district, 18 percent; City of Rockmart, 16 percent and City of Cedartown, 27 percent.
“If this money is lost, other sources of revenue must be found,” he said.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of existing industry and attracting new plants to the county.
Positive points for bringing jobs to Polk are its strategic location. It is also situated in the middle of auto alley, has access to dual rail hubs and near the new Paulding County and Atlanta airports.
It also has affordable land and labor, regional universities and technical colleges, a reinforced Fiber Optic network, power, water and more.
“Economic development is not a game of selection but elimination,” Teaster said. “Prospects check you off in a search for the very best. The two most important things they consider are labor costs and incentives.”
He pointed out that a site selector doesn’t really care about how great you think your community is until you solve your problems.
Teaster cautioned the crowd about airing disagreements in public meetings. “Don’t fuss and fight or you can kill your opportunity for a new industry,” he said.
Manager Jack Damron, Polk County Water Authority, was asked for an opinion. He reminded that a plan is successful only when it is used.
Polk Commissioner Jason Ward asked for and received suggestions about the best way to fund a new speculative building.
Ward asked if everyone would be in favor of using SPLOST funds to pay for a proposed facility.
The response was another question: “Why is it taking so long to get construction underway on the next spec building?”
Everyone agreed that this building needs to be out of the ground soon and a decision made on how to pay for another as soon as it is filled.