Ramage speaks at Rotary

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The City of Brundidge has zero debt in its general fund.

That puts Brundidge in an enviable position regarding most cities, small and large.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage credits the city’s state of affairs to the wisdom and foresight of the city’s forefathers.

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The mayor was the guest speaker at the Brundidge Rotary Club Wednesday and gave an update on city affairs. He was quick to give credit where credit is due.

“Two things that were done by our forefathers made a tremendous difference and helped Brundidge be in the position that we are in now,” Ramage said. “In 1941, Brundidge joined PowerSouth along with Opp, Andalusia and Elba and several co-ops. That decision by the Brundidge City Commission helped keep our electric rates low and that has been a big plus for Brundidge. Then, in 1952, Brundidge, along with 14 other cities, became a part of the Southeast Alabama Gas District. We’ve been able to keep the rates low and the city receives annual rebates from the gas district. This past year, the city got a rebate check of $100,000.”

Ramage said that good, sound decisions have become a hallmark of the city and that is evident in the city’s transition from the textile industry to the food industry.

For several decades, Brundidge’s bread and butter came from the textile industries, first the “glove factory” and then the “shirt factory.”

When Fruit of the Loom closed its doors, there was concern for the future of the textile industry in Brundidge. However, the Russell Corporation stepped in and brought jobs and optimism to the city.

“Brundidge was rock ’n rolling in the T-shirt business but, when we lost it, the city was able to make the transformation to the food industry. It was good for us then and it’s good for us today,” Ramage said.

A wise decision provided a strong foundation for the food industry in Brundidge.

The city had invested $2.4 million in a wastewater treatment facility that was tailor made for the food industry. Doxsee Foods and Piknik had replaced Brundidge Foods when it moved to Troy. A strong selling point for prospective food industries was the wastewater treatment facility.

Today, Supreme Oil and Southern Classic Foods provide jobs and resources for the city along with Walmart’s distribution center.

In comparison, in 1986, the wastewater treatment plant put less than $83,000 in the city’s coffer. Last year, the plant brought in $758,000. Ramage attributed the increase to heavy industrial use.

“About 98 percent of that amount was from industrial use,” he said.

The mayor said that the city has a $7.5 million investment in it utilities. That investment includes a citywide electrical upgrade and that debt is being played via a reduction in line loss.

Utility rates continue to remain low in the city as does the city’s unemployment rate which Ramage attributes to industrial growth.

The unemployment rate in Brundidge is 6.8 percent which is the second lowest in South Alabama. Only Coffee County is lower at 6.3 percent.