JONESBORO—Clayton County officials handed out a list of each department's accomplishments for 2019 at the State of the County luncheon May 5.
The Clayton County Police Department saw a drop in crime across five of seven Part One categories, which are the most serious offenses tracked by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics. Homicides were down 8.1 percent, robberies were down 9.9 percent, burglaries were down 18 percent, thefts were down 9.5 percent and vehicle thefts were down 6.6 percent.
The most notable increase in 2019 crime was a 45.6 percent increase in rape. Of those 265 reported incidents, "approximately 74 percent were unfortunately domestically related or child molestation." The county "attribute(s) the increase as a result of greater encouragement for reporting these types of offenses." In 2019, 3.5 percent of reported rapes were stranger-on-stranger, meaning victims are far more likely to be assaulted by someone they know. Aggravated assaults were up 8.6 percent.
Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services distinguished itself by achieving international accreditation through the Commission on Fire Service Accreditation International (CFAI), which only two percent of fire departments nationwide have accomplished. The firefighter training program in cooperation with Clayton County Public Schools is entering its third year, which means the first cohort of successful recruits will be hired as firefighter/EMTs when they graduate. CCFES also upgraded its records management system, which "streamlines the patient care reporting process" and speeds the time it takes to document patient transfers to hospitals.
The Economic Development Authority has partnered with the federal Small Business Association "to encourage eight (A) firms to establish business in Clayton County HUB Zones." The Housing Outreach and Education Program (HOPE) prevented 13 evictions, provided stable housing to 7 people and assisted 28 people with $42,930 in rental assistance and $7,265 in utility assistance. The Student Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) helped 15 people save $50 to $500 each per month, with a strict spending plan yielding a total of $18,808 in personal savings. Two people "saw an overall increase of 120 points in credit scores."
The county library system offered a Financial Literacy Program covering basic banking skills, credit and money management, fraud protection and identity theft; an eight-week workshop for local entrepreneurs "to develop skills to assist opening businesses in Clayton County;" and, with the United Way, set up preschooler learning spaces at three branches to get the kids ready for kindergarten.
In 2019, Clayton County's Department of Senior Services became the only such agency in the State of Georgia to have earned national accreditation from the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC). The Frank Bailey Senior Center also won a national award for its Community Garden Expo.
The Prison Division saw a $200,000 increase from the State Department of Corrections, which raised the per diem rate per prisoner in 2019. Partnering with Southern Crescent Technical College, the county prison also offered inmates welding lessons. A delegation of corrections executives from the Bahamas also visited in 2019. The Refuse Control Division has removed 3,261 tires from dump sites, placed a new trash can at each of 325 MARTA bus stops in unincorporated Clayton County, cleaned and cut 1,954 roads and over 645 miles of Clean Sweep areas, planted 70 new trees on Panola Road and laid over 200 yards of new mulch on the Georgia Hwy. 138 median.
TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Working with Georgia Power, the department upgraded 8,668 street lights in unincorporated Clayton to energy-efficient versions and widened and rebuilt 2.1 miles of roads. The Board of Commissioners also gave the go-ahead to adopt the Aerotropolis Transit Feasibility Study.
A new Commercial Code Enforcement division, a Customer Care Concierge, and the new EnerGov business license and building permit system were launched in 2019. The department also "consistently met" Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant allocation spending of 1.5 percent.
PARKS AND RECREATION
911 call boxes were installed along Jesters Creek Trail and the Flat Shoals Multipurpose Center was built. Rebranding with the motto "It Starts in the Parks" and a new mobile-optimized parallax website, www.claytonparks.com, came online in 2019. In addition, Greenspace earned an Earth Day project sponsorship from Georgia Power Regional Energy Services Team.
The county's rebranding effort is underway, which involved community feedback and will be unveiled by June.
Phase One of the county's new hardened IT center near the Harold R. Banke Justice Center was completed. The department redesigned the county's website to be more user-friendly and made the Fire, Police and Parks and Recreation sites responsive and mobile-friendly. IT also migrated 250 county virtual servers to new hardware to meet county needs for the next five years.
The department digitized 90,000 paper property records, launched a new Computer Aided Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system and updated the website so property owners can track appeals in real time.
The Finance Department earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Budgeting for FYE June 20, 2017 and Certificate of Distinguished Budget Presentation for FYE June 30, 2019 from the Government Finance Officers Association.
HR completed Phase One of the 2018 compensation study and Phase Two is underway. It also created "Wellness Wednesday" and an on-site wellness center for county employees. HR is now responsible for employee relations and workplace analytics and has streamlined its Applicant Processing and Personnel Human Capital efforts using Munis.
The Office of Youth Services won over $9,000 in grants in 2019 to enhance services for Clayton County's young people and won first place for Region 13 in the Secretary of State's Student Ambassadors Program. The Youth Summer Job Fair drew 158 participants.