Editor's Note: Former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne is one of four Republicans running for the office, the others being retired Marine Mike Boyce, incumbent Tim Lee, and retired businessman Larry Savage. With no Democrats in the primaries, the GOP winner will take office. Primary elections are Tuesday.
What are the most important issues facing Cobb in the coming years?
The most important issues facing Cobb County is to stop the loss of property values, reducing the 16 percent unemployment rate and to address the massive foreclosure rate. Getting the county budget under control is the first step, and reducing property taxes will send a clear message to all.
What's your position on TSPLOST?
I am totally opposed to the TSPLOST and have already voted against it.
The county has cut services and increased the millage rate. Do you see the budget situation improving? If so, will you restore services? If not, how will you balance the budget?
Tim Lee has increased the millage rate by 16 percent, raised your water rate by 12 percent and increased CCT fares for all riders, while our unemployment rate is at 16 percent, property values dropping and people losing their jobs. The voters in Cobb County have to make a decision about their future.
I will control the budget, reduce property taxes and focus on Public Safety as government's primary responsibility. I will control services by consolidating departments and privatizing as well.
What have you accomplished in your career that you're most proud of?
From my 10 years in office as commission chairman, I have three primary accomplishments I am very proud of:
A. I secured legislation that at age 62, you are no longer required to pay property taxes for education. This is a 67 percent property tax reduction for our seniors.
B. I secured legislation that created a "floating homestead exemption" that states if your property values increase, your homestead exemption automatically increases so that your property taxes do not increase.
C. I secured a "AAA" credit rating for Cobb County in 1997. We are only 1 of 35 counties out of 3045 counties in the country to earn this distinction.