Lunsford reflects, projects Troy’s economy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The city of Troy has not been immune in the last year to the effects of nationwide economic shortfalls, said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford.

But what Lunsford also said at the Pike County Chamber of Commerce’s “Breakfast with the Mayor” Tuesday morning is the local economy looks to be on its way to improvement.

“Yes, we were impacted, but I feel that’s being turned around completely,” Lunsford said.

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Lunsford addressed the some 35 chamber members Tuesday gathered at the Hampton Inn about just how the city has been hit in the last year.

“Initially, I didn’t see a decrease in sales tax in the beginning of the year,” Lunsford said. “In April or May, we suddenly started getting hit. I felt like we were coasting along, and then one month we were down $100,000, which is big. The next month we were down $87,000 and the next month the same range.”

Because of such hits in the last months of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, Lunsford said the city had faced a unique situation as it began budget planning.

“If I had to go on the last two to three months and call that a trend, we would have had to make significant cuts (in the budget passed in October),” Lunsford said.

So instead, the city passed a budget based on the numbers in the previous year, and Lunsford will review that in January.

“We didn’t approve any cost of living raises for city employees at that time. I’m hoping when I reevaluate in January, I’ll be able to do that,” Lunsford said.

The good news, Lunsford said, is sales tax revenues appear to be improving for Troy.

In October, the city was still down, but it was down $18,000. In November, Lunsford said it looks as though numbers will be nearly what they were last year.

If the trend continues, the city of Troy should be in good shape.

Lunsford said he tried to look back and determine just what caused such big sales tax drops in the year.

“The businesses where you have to buy staples, like grocery stores, are growing,” Lunsford said.

But, places like auto dealers and retail stores where residents would spend at discretion, sales taxes dropped some 40 percent.

“Maybe with all the talk about unemployment, we got a little scared in Pike County,” Lunsford said. “Now, we’re beginning to see that trend change.”

Lunsford said the city has worked hard to grow existing retail business and recruit new business, like CGI. Those, together, should help Pike County continue to grow, he said. Lunsford also told those gathered about upcoming projects in the city of Troy.

He said the expansion at the Municipal Airport is already underway. In addition, plans for the library are being decided at this time.

All work done now on each are funded through grants.

Pike County Chamber of Commerce President Jenniffer Barner said the event is something the chamber sponsors each year to give residents an opportunity to speak with elected officials.

“It seems when people hear things straight from the elected officials, it holds more value than when they read it,” Barner said.

“The media may intend to report something correctly or make it readable to the public, but it is always better to hear the details from the people who are actually involved in bringing a company in or designing road improvements and things like that.”

Barner said the chamber intends to hold a similar breakfast to invited the rest of Pike County’s officials to address the public, though a date has not been set at this time.