Catoosa weathers more than one storm

Catoosa County's unusual weather events, a January snowstorm and a tornado in April, coupled with a lingering recession have placed unusual stresses on local government during 2011.

Even so, the county weathered the storms - physical and financial - that occurred during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to County Commission Chairman Keith Greene.

"We're in good shape, financially, compared to other counties," Greene said after his recent state-of-the-county address to the local Chamber of Commerce. "Revenue has been about 8 percent above last year."

The county operated with a $21 million general fund and relied on about $11.2 million in SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) revenue for its capital projects.

No workers were furloughed, no major projects were scrapped and officials were not forced to rely on reserves (the equivalent of savings) to meet costs associated with cleanup following the tornado.

"The negative impact from the tornado didn't materialize," Greene said.

The year has also witnessed expansion of the county's fire protection services with the opening of Station No. 7 in the Lakeview/Westside area.

Records show the county's fire department answered 2,537 calls between Jan. 1 and Nov. 4 of this year.

Other highlights for 2011 mentioned by Greene included the completion of a 20-year joint comprehensive plan for the county and its two municipalities; involvement with the operating agreement/merger of Hutcheson and Erlanger hospitals; and ongoing efforts to bring a Georgia Northwestern Technical College campus to Catoosa County.

Efforts to promote commercial development along the county's four Interstate 75 interchanges have included:

n At Exit 345, expanding sewers to enhance commercial and industrial growth.

n At Exit 348, major widening of state Highway 151/Alabama Highway and actively marketing the county's industrial park.

n At Exit 350, offering incentives packages to new and existing businesses that might come to Battlefield Parkway.

n At Exit 352, ongoing work at the Costco site and along the widened Cloud Springs Road.

Further enhancements to the county and its marketability have included its designation as being "Camera Ready" and a "Georgia Work Ready" community.

All in all, Greene said, "We're in pretty good shape."