2019 Popular Annual
Financial Report

Dear Kennesaw Residents & Friends,

Welcome to the City of Kennesaw’s Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019. The PAFR is focused on providing useful information about city operations, services, programs and financial condition to residents and stakeholders. It is designed to deliver this information in a format that is easily understandable.

The financial information in this PAFR summarizes the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CAFR contains a much more all-encompassing collection of financial statements, notes, schedules and other relevant data and has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the past nineteen years. It is available in the Finance section of the Document Center.

The PAFR is intended to be a supplement to the CAFR, not a replacement. We hope you find it to be informative and beneficial.

About Kennesaw


Kennesaw, Georgia is a thriving community located in Northwest Cobb County along the I-75/Cobb Parkway corridor only 25 miles from downtown Atlanta.

Originally known as Big Shanty, the City has evolved from an 1830’s railroad shanty town to a community recognized for its commitment to providing an exceptional quality of life.

Attractive, modern neighborhoods and a thriving business environment blend seamlessly with excellent recreational and cultural amenities and a wealth of parks and green spaces.

The City offers first rate educational opportunities at all levels and is adjacent to Georgia’s third largest university, Kennesaw State.

The Smithsonian-affiliated Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History celebrates the history of the railroad in the Southeast with a wide range of exhibits and programs.

The 17-acre Smith-Gilbert Gardens features fifteen themed garden spaces, anchored by the historic Hiram Butler House and showcases 31 outdoor sculptures in the permanent collection.


A number of city parks and trails provide opportunities for promoting social, physical and mental wellness for both residents and visitors.

Several annual festivals, concerts and cultural events and programs provide free entertainment for people of all ages and interests.

Kennesaw delivers a high quality of life with its diversified local economy, outstanding living, shopping, dining and recreational options and excellent healthcare and educational alternatives.

It’s no wonder our city consistently wins awards and praises from real estate and lifestyle websites.


Median Household Income

Median Housing Value

9.77 sq. miles




Source: US Census Quick Facts
Population estimate as of 7/1/19
Median Household Income 2014-18
Unemployment as of 12/19

Mayor & City Council

The City Council consists of a mayor and five council members elected at large on a non-partisan basis by the voters of the City of Kennesaw. Members serve staggered four year terms with biannual elections in November.
Mayor Derek Easterling

James "Doc" Eaton


Tracey Viars


Pat Ferris


Chris Henderson


David Blinkhorn

City Council meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month in the Court Council Chambers. Council work sessions are at 6:30 p.m. on the second and last Mondays of each month.


To cultivate a progressive, vibrant community fostering an environment of opportunity, inclusion, and security, we strive to be a city inspired by innovation, guided by ethics and enhanced by diversity.


To enhance the quality of life for our community, the City of Kennesaw is dedicated to providing fiscally responsible, innovative, efficient services and cultural resources.


The City of Kennesaw is guided by core values supporting the fulfillment of the mission and vision of the City. These core values are fundamental to our city’s success and reflect the RESPECT we have for our community and organization.

We are:  Responsible, Ethical, Safe, Professional, Engaged, Connected and Transparent

Kennesaw Accolades

  • Awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for the 19th consecutive year.

  • The City of Kennesaw was ranked in the Top 20 for the 2019 Best Suburbs to Live in Georgia by Niche. This list provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall livability of the area, taking into consideration location, quality of schools, crime rates, housing trends, employment statistics and access to amenities.

  • The Frank Boone Dog Park at Swift-Cantrell Park was named Best of Cobb by Cobb Life Magazine.
  • Chamber of Commerce listed the City of Kennesaw fourth on their Best Cities to Live in Georgia list. Chamber of Commerce considered a total of 2,509 qualified cities in Georgia based on employment, housing, quality of life, education and health.

  • A study from WalletHub listed the City of Kennesaw in the eightieth percentile as one of the Best Small Cities in America. WalletHub compared over 1,200 cities in the United States with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 based on key factors of livability.

  • The City of Kennesaw was named to SafeWise’s list of Georgia’s 50 Safest Cities of 2019.

  • Kennesaw was named to Trips to Discover’s list of the 10 Best Neighborhoods to See Christmas Lights in Atlanta!

Community Development

The City is part of metro Atlanta and benefits from the large, diverse economy. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Economic Snapshot for 2019 and forecasting 2020 indicates Metro Atlanta continues to be a natural leader in job growth; wages continue to see positive growth, home prices remain above pre-recession peak, and office and retail construction continue to grow. The regional snapshot accurately reflects the City of Kennesaw economic performance and our projections for 2020. The City’s rate of growth continued to increase in 2019 over 2018 in all these sectors. Commitment to new projects and expansions continue to take longer than pre-2008 due to longer due diligence period and conservative financing environment. Several projects will be completed in 2020 with the remainder to be completed by 2023.
In 2019, an additional $130 million of new projects were added to the development pipeline for a total of $830 million to be built in 2020-2024. The City will continue to see improvement in real estate values (4.8%), unemployment (remains low at 2.4%) and capital investment. Job creation increased in 2019 and is projected to continue through 2020. Overall, the City’s total portfolio of business licenses has continued to grow at a moderate pace. New businesses include, but are not limited to, logistics manufacturing, retail/restaurants, medical services, utility services, construction materials, financial services and software development.
The top employers in the City have remained fairly stable over the past year. Some of our key businesses such as Atlanta Bonded Warehouse, Deerland Enzymes and Fabric.com continue to invest and grow. We have seen continued growth in new or expanding small businesses, with either a brick and mortar presence or service/virtual businesses. New to Kennesaw are co-work facilities, which have opened in the past 24 months and have grown their member base to over 100 businesses. Two additional co-work offices are planned for two mixed-use projects in downtown, to be completed by 2021. Approximately 15 new brick and mortar businesses have opened in the past 12 months. Kennesaw continues to support “craft” businesses that help strongly brand the City. We have two craft beer breweries and one craft distillery. One of the breweries completed a major expansion in 2019. Two new breweries are planned for downtown. One will open in 2020 and the second in 2021. Development of a new craft cold brew coffee manufacturing facility will be completed in 2020. These businesses create a craft ecosystem and have had a very positive impact on tourism in the city. The traffic they generate complements the City’s Museum and Garden, creating more synergy in the tourism sector.

In 2020, the following investments are expected to be completed:

  • The downtown area will add $66 million in new development in 2020

  • Approximately 500 multifamily units valued at $105 million

  • Approximately 80 new single-family residences valued at $20 million

  • 80,000 square feet of new commercial space valued at $2.2 million

  • $130M of new capital investment with 500+ jobs created in 2019 and 300 jobs projected by 2021

  • 208 residential units finished in 2019; 500+ more planned to be completed in 2020

  • Issued 2,123 construction permits in 2019

  • 2,726 inspections and 650 plan reviews completed in 2019

Recreation & Culture

Parks & Recreation provides opportunities for promoting social, physical and mental wellness for residents and visitors. The City has an impressive array of parks and facilities and a full roster of classes, camps and sports activities. In addition, numerous annual festivals, concerts, events and programs are offered to provide free entertainment for people of all ages and interests.
In 2019, the City of Kennesaw celebrated the grand opening of the Inclusive Playground at Swift-Cantrell Park. The formerly existing playground featured nine (9) slides, 11 swings and a main play structure with 100 feet of ADA ramps and sensory boards. The additions include four (4) play structures over approximately 5,000 square feet that was previously unused. This area includes a main play structure with wheelchair accessible ramps that lead to a ropes tower, sensory stations, an eight (8) person wheelchair sway fun and a slide. The ramp system also leads to pod climbers, a tunnel system and climbing apparatuses. The main play structure has 40 feet of shade. The entire 18,500 square foot space has been made accessible to everyone by removing the wood chips and installing turf. Every child is now able to maneuver the entire space.
The Department of Parks & Recreation also renovated two of the City’s pocket parks in the Butler Ridge and McCollum Park neighborhoods and replaced the outdoor basketball court in the Deerfield neighborhood.

  • There are 138 acres of parks and green spaces including neighborhood and pocket parks.

  • Swift-Cantrell Park, a 42-acre community park, contains trails, picnic shelters, playgrounds, a dog park and a 40,000 sq ft all-concrete skatepark.

  • An estimated 200,000+ people attend the annual Big Shanty Festival, Salute to America, Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival and A Day with Santa as well as 15 other special events, movies, 5K races and other activities.

  • Over 600 community classes and 31 programs were offered with more than 4,600 participants.

The Southern Museum


The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, a prestigious Smithsonian Affiliations member, is a family-friendly destination devoted to trains, big and small. The Museum is home to the General, the locomotive stolen by Union spies in what came to be known as “The Great Locomotive Chase,” one of the most daring episodes of the Civil War. Also on display is an impressive collection of military artifacts, including two of the first Medals of Honor ever awarded and objects that tell the personal story of the Civil War from the perspective of civilians and individuals that are often overlooked.

The nation’s only full-scale reproduction of a belt-driven locomotive assembly line, including an office, pattern shop, factory equipment and two locomotives in various stages of development, tells the story of manufacturing and trains in the South after the war. Visitors will also find Georgia’s ‘Merci’ Gratitude Boxcar, a gift of thanks from France for providing aid to their war-torn country following World War II. For little train enthusiasts, the 5,000 square feet education center is full of interactives and playsets for kids of all ages.


The Southern Museum offers year-round programs and events, from the popular Mommy & Me weekly preschool program to our annual model-train extravaganza Trains, Trains, Trains held every January. For students, field trip options that meet Georgia state curriculum standards are tailored for age appropriateness and can be customized to meet specific requirements. We also bring the Museum to local schools with in-classroom outreach and a rentable education traveling trunk. For researchers, the Museum library and archives contain over 3,000 linear feet of material available to view upon request. The Southern Museum is also the perfect venue to host private events, weddings, corporate gatherings and children’s birthday parties.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens


Smith-Gilbert Gardens is the City of Kennesaw’s botanical garden. Voted one of the top five places to take children in the Atlanta metro area, the 17-acre property is rich with botanical, artistic and historic treasures. Fifteen themed garden spaces, anchored by the reconstruction era Hiram Butler House, contain more than 4,000 curated plant species. The award-winning “Garden with Wings” butterfly house and pollinator garden promote conservation of beneficial Georgia native plants and insects.

The crevice garden displays a gardening style and plant collection rarely seen in the Southeastern United States. Robust collections of hydrangeas, camellias, conifers and roses along with woodland and perennial gardens inspire visitors to explore variety for their own landscapes. Blending horticulture and art, the bonsai collection includes more than 70 trees, diligently trained during monthly work sessions that are open to garden visitors. Thirty-one remarkable garden sculptures by nationally and internationally known artists add drama to the landscape. Koi ponds, a waterfall, and child-friendly play structures throughout the property round out the experience.


Smith-Gilbert Gardens’ conservation mission is evident throughout the gardens. A minimal-toxicity ethic means a curtailed use of chemical treatments in garden maintenance. Through best practices in collection management and collaborations with Georgia Power, State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Atlanta Botanical Garden, they are working to preserve global plant biodiversity and improve local habitat. The educational programs share knowledge of and passion for nature, while inspiring participants to be conservation minded.

Public Works

The Public Works Department provides a wide range of services that have significant positive economic impact, improve people’s lives and help define the quality of life for residents and visitors.

The Department’s core services include maintenance and repair of the city’s infrastructure (streets, curb, gutters and right-of-way), cemetery operations, stormwater maintenance, environmental services, supervision of trash collection and recycling services, fleet maintenance and capital project management.

  • 3.1 miles of roads resurfaced

  • 8,000 feet of sidewalk installed or repaired

  • 2,400 feet of curb/gutter installed using $200,000 of block grant funds

  • $1,440,000 of transportation SPLOST dollars spent

Public Safety

In 2019, the Kennesaw/Acworth 911 Emergency Communication Center obtained Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies status.  The Department scored 100 percent in 185 out of 205 categories; the remaining 20 were not applicable.

The Kennesaw Police Department has made significant progress with the Kennesaw Community Watch program. The program is designed to identify and register businesses and homeowners who have camera and alarms to aid in identifying suspects and/or patterns of crime.

KPD successfully completed Crisis Intervention Training —this is training designed to assist officers in working with citizens challenged with various levels of mental illness.

The Crisis Assistance Program is in full operation. A program focused on our vulnerable community in areas of elder abuse, mental abuse and alcohol/drug addiction.

The Kennesaw Police Department also obtained State recertification in 2019 and their fourth consecutive Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies status.

  • Staff includes 68 full-time and 5 part-time sworn positions

  • Kennesaw ranks as one of the safest cities in Georgia with a 2017 crime rate of 1,611 per 100,000 population, the state average was 3,147.2 per 100,000 population

  • Kennesaw/Acworth 911 Emergency Communication Center answered 103,593 calls

  • KPD has an active presence in social media platforms including FB, Instagram and Twitter

Governmental Revenues:
Where the Money Comes From

The General Fund is the primary operating fund for the City’s core services. A fund balance is achieved when city revenues exceed expenses. Taxes make up the largest portion of incoming money for the City.

Other sources include licensing and permits, intergovernmental revenue such as grants or shared revenues, fines and forfeitures, charges for services, investment earnings and other miscellaneous revenues.

    Governmental Expenditures:
    Where the Money Goes

    Providing quality services for constituents comes at a cost. Expenditures consist of general government support, public safety, municipal court, public work, planning, inspections, code enforcement and economic development and culture & recreation costs covering city parks and amenities and coordinating special events.

      Governmental Activities

      Net position is the difference between assets and liabilities. Net position often serves as a useful indicator of the City’s financial health. The changes in net position result from financial activity. More details can be found in the CAFR.

      Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST)

      A detailed list of the 2005, 2011 and 2016 SPLOST projects can be found on the City's website, as well as the proposed project list for 2022 SPLOST.

      Projects Completed in 2019

      • Pine Mountain Road/Pine Mountain Way/Pine Mountain Court - Provided safety and operational improvements along the entire corridor of Pine Mountain Road (1.5 miles), as well as improved the intersection of Shillings Road with Pine Mountain Road and made safety improvements to Ellis Road. Pine Mountain Road was widened to three 12-ft. lanes, sidewalks were added to both sides of the road, and retaining walls were constructed to minimize right-of-way impacts. Ellis Road had safety improvements where it ties to Pine Mountain Road. Right turn lanes were added to the intersections with Pine Mountain Way and Cobb Parkway. The project ended at Cobb Parkway. Project tied to Cobb Department of Transportation project that extended the improvements to Stilesboro Road.

      • Stanley Road/Collins Road - Widened Stanley and Collins Roads, added sidewalk along Collins Road and roundabout at the intersection of Stanley and Collins Road. Phase II: Widened and realigned Stanley from Collins to RR Crossing (City/County Line).

      • Depot Park Phase 5 - This project included grading of the park footprint, installing new storm drainage under the CSX line and improving the wetland area.

      Projects Currently Underway

      • Ben King Road - Improvements focus on reducing congestion and safety considerations from Cherokee St. to McCollum. Engineering and design underway, right-of-way acquisition underway.

      • Old Highway 41 - Widening road, drainage improvements and installing traffic signal at Stanley Road. Construction underway. Estimated completion is Fall 2020. (Project ties to Cobb DOT intersection improvement project on Barrett Pkwy.)

      • Cherokee Street - Project includes widening the road to three (3) lanes, intersection improvements and adding curb, gutter and sidewalks. The project will also include right-of-way purchase. Right-of-way acquisition underway.

      • Smith-Gilbert Gardens Phase 1 & Depot Park Phase 6 & 7 – Phase 1 for SGG includes additional parking & site improvements, Depot Park Phase 6: Parking lot construction, Phase 7: Upper Meadow (& wetland bridges).

      • Recreation Center - Phase 1 construction underway, Phase 1 will include two full size basketball courts, a fitness room and office space.

      Communication &
      Community Engagement

      Our City offers a wealth of activities we want everyone to hear about, participate in and enjoy. We use a multi-media approach for communications.


      The City’s website was redesigned and updated in 2019 and is a great source for information about services, programs and events. Details about public meetings, employment opportunities, community events and so much more can be found online. In addition to being a great source of valuable news and information, residents can also take advantage of the many online services, including citation, property tax, business license and sanitation payment, municipal code online, road condition alerts and the “Report a Concern” support system for Code Enforcement.

      Social & App

      An e-newsletter is sent to subscribers twice monthly, the day following a regularly scheduled Mayor & Council Meeting. The City is also engaged on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Next Door. This year, the City also released it’s first ever mobile app! App users are able to view latest updates for news, find information about event dates, times and locations and add them to their mobile calendar, find nearby businesses, including restaurants and retail, pay bills online and access to the City’s “Report a Concern” portal. The City of Kennesaw mobile app is available for download on Apple & Google Play!


      The City offers numerous opportunities for citizen engagement. Attendance is encouraged at all public meetings and citizens are encouraged to apply to serve on one of the City’s boards, commissions or committees.


      The City invites you to attend one of our many festivals, 5k races or outdoor movies. An annual free luncheon recognizes veterans, and the Mayor often acknowledges group or individual achievement with proclamations at Council meetings. The Police Department conducts a Citizen’s Police Academy, as well as personal safety classes such as active shooter training. And don’t forget the weekly “Market Mondays” event featuring the farmers market and food trucks every Monday from May until September.