2013: Local Government
Published 11:01 pm Friday, December 27, 2013
New faces in leadership positions and familiar problems marked the highlights of 2013 for local governments.
Reeves, city council share successful first year
For the first time in almost 30 years, the City of Troy began the new year with a mayor not named Jimmy Lunsford. Current mayor Jason Reeves was sworn in to his new position on November 5, 2012, and his first full year in office saw the Troy municipal government pass a number of influential ordinances.
Being Troy’s youngest-ever elected official and replacing a man who had served as Troy’s mayor for almost three decades did not phase Reeves. Reeves and the rest of the city council, including members Charlie Dunn, Greg Meeks, Marcus Paramore, John Witherington and Dejerilyn Henderson, went right to work crafting new legislation to benefit the city.
One of the landmark pieces of legislation passed by the council was the city’s ban on public smoking. On June 25, the council voted to prevent all smoking in public places, including bars, restaurants, worksites and anywhere else members of the public are allowed to go, However, smoking is still permitted in private homes, vehicles and more than 20 feet outside entrances and exits of public buildings.
Anyone caught violating the ordinance by Troy police will be fined $50 per individual offense.
Council President John Witherington was a vocal supporter of the ordinance when it was put to vote, and he said the ordinance will benefit the quality of life in the city. “It strengthens the [smoking] ordinance we passed in 200,” Witherington said. “It is truly a good day for public health in Troy.”
The City of Troy also established a 311 call center to handle service requests by the citizens of Troy. The center was designed to alleviate pressure on phone lines at city hall by having citizens call a dedicated call center rather than specific departments.
Since it has been implemented in August, the new call center has been a big success for the city. “We put the 311 system in on August 1 because we wanted to know how we could better serve our citizens from a customer service perspective,” Reeves said. “We have had 1,276 service orders since August.”
Heading in to next year, the new call center will allow the City of Troy to become more efficient as more service orders are placed. “With the system, we have been able to track how often certain orders are placed and how long it takes us to respond to those orders,” Reeves said. “As we go forward, it is very critical for us to see how we are effectively serving the public.”
The City of Troy looks to attack 2014 with the same vigor as 2013. “When I started as mayor, I was given advice to focus on the first hundred days,” Reeves said. “Now that I’m past that, I want to focus on the last 1,000 days of my term. When we have department meetings, I ask the department heads what the strengths of their department are, what challenges their department face and how their department could do better.”
ATRIP benefits local roads
The City of Troy and the Pike County Commission teamed up to bring money to improve Pike County’s infrastructure through the ATRIP project.
On February 4, Pike County was awarded nearly $8 million in ATRIP funds for nine projects. In order to receive the $8 million, the county had to match $2 million dollars.
Since 2012, Pike County has received $12.5 million to complete 16 projects within the county. Of those 16 projects, 10 of the projects fall under the jurisdiction of the county. The remaining 6 projects are under the jurisdiction of the City of Troy.
The county has completed the resurfacing project on CR 2214, which serves the Goshen area. Goshen Mayor Jack Waller said his community was beyond happy with the results of the ATRIP program. “The people of Goshen couldn’t have asked for more,” Waller said. “It’s a beautiful job. You’ve done everything we wanted and expected. We no longer have to drive 10 miles out of the way to get to Troy.”
The City of Troy received just over $2 million to help build an east-west corridor through the city. The money has been used in efforts to widen and realign E Madison St. and McKinley Drive.
The Pike County Commission hopes to complete five ATRIP projects during the upcoming year. The City of Troy hopes to finish three projects.
The ten roads in county jurisdiction funded by the ATRIP project are: CR 2214, CR 2201, CR 2238, CR 4404, CR 3316, CR 7708, CR 6600, CR 5513, CR 7702, and CR 6618.
The six roads in the Troy city limits are: Madison St., Enzor Road, Henderson Highway, Three Notch St., CR 5513 and McKinley Drive.
Brundidge landfill question still not resolved
The questions surrounding the Brundidge Landfill have still not been resolved as the City of Brundidge and Coffee County find themselves locked in a court battle.
The questions surrounding the landfill began in June 2012 when the TransLoad America, Inc. filed for bankruptcy, immediately closing the Brundidge Landfill. In Oct. of 2012, the Coffee County Commission voted to spend up to $6 million to purchase the Brundidge Landfill through an entity called Brundidge Acquisitions.
The deed to the Brundidge Landfill was recorded at the Pike County Courthouse on June 28, 2013. This gave ownership of the landfill to Brundidge Acquisitions.
The City of Brundidge has fought Coffee County’s acquisition of the landfill from day one. The City of Brundidge Solid Waste Disposal Authority filed a lawsuit in the Pike County Circuit Court to prevent the sale of the landfill without an agreement from the City of Brundidge.
Brundidge believes that the state code and state government preclude one government from doing business in another government’s jurisdiction without the expressed approval of the governing body of that jurisdiction.
Brundidge officials are upset by the closing of the landfill because it forces the city to send its solid waste to a landfill in Coffee County, which costs the government a large amount of money. “By tying it up in court, the Coffee County Landfill gets an extra 225 tons a day and that amounts to about $750,000 a year,” Brundidge City Manager Britt Thomas said. “They are looking at it from a financial standpoint and so are we. The longer the landfill stays closed, the more money the City of Brundidge and Pike County have to spend to haul our garbage.”
By the end of 2013, the issue had still not been resolved. The case remains in court and the landfill remains closed.