The State of Troy: Mayor Reeves speaks at Exchange Club

Published 2:24 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Troy Mayor Jason Reeves stopped by the Troy Exchange Club on Thursday and gave an overall update on the city.

Reeves discussed a number of topics such as growth in Troy, utility bills and more. Reeves, who has served in city government in Troy for nearly three decades, said that one of the biggest changes he’s seen in the city has been with the fire department.

“We have a few more firemen right now than we do police officers and we’re in the 50s in both of those,” he said. “One of things we did – along with adding another fire station – was send a lot of folks to school to be paramedics. Of all the things we’ve done, that’s probably one of the biggest. We’ve always had really strong environmental services and public services and the police department, and the fire department was good, but now it’s grown so much and they’ve saved a lot of lives.”

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Reeves mentioned that the unemployment rate in Troy was nearly three times its current 3 percent rate when he originally took office. An unintended consequence of that low unemployment rate is that businesses are having trouble finding employees, which is something the city is looking to work on with another project that has been in the works for years.

“We’re working on different things with different entities to help with (employment) issues,” Reeves continued. “One of the things we’re in the process of doing, which is really important to us, is that we wanted to save the old Academy Street School and we’ve started construction on that.

“One of the things we hope to use that for is workforce development; doing and teaching things that will have our community engaged in addition to having a great location for the community to be involved in and also pay homage to all of the people that went to school there and added so much to our community.”

Reeves talked about the growth of downtown Troy and along Highway 231.

“We started over a dozen years ago to upgrade downtown and now you’re seeing that. We kept the charm there but it’s grown a tremendous amount,” said Reeves. “The bowling alley opened this week and that is something we went out and worked on and recruited and feel like is going to be something great for people to do. It seems to be a hit so far.

“We’ve tried to redevelop in locations that were beginning to become rundown. When I was in college I lived in a lime green trailer that sat right about where the door to Publix is now. All of that development has been a positive for the city.”

Reeves said that he hears the issues that residents bring up, such as wanting a movie theater in the city and certain rundown structures that are an eyesore, and that the city is working on those things. He also pointed to potential upgrades to “midtown” that could be in the works.

“We’ve been able to bring a lot of things here and we hope to do much, much more of that. We have a lot of people interested in Troy, especially a lot of folks in the retail market,” he said. “There is a lot of great traffic on (Highway) 231 and people are interested in the growth downtown and, now where we call ‘Midtown’ around CGI, that area, we’re trying to do some redevelopment.

“We’ve had someone that bought the old Troy Bank and Trust (near Park and University intersection) location there that we believe they could end up investing as much as $45-50 million in that area.”

Reeves also said that the city is planning on some recreation upgrades at Knox Street Park, the City Dog Park and at the Troy SportsPlex.

“We’re going to do some things to try and engage and involve more people in the community and provide more opportunities for recreation,” Reeves said. “We’re working on doing a couple of things and feel like we’ve found a way to do that without having to raise taxes, and we won’t raise taxes.”

Reeves mentioned that Troy has not had to raise energy rates on residents since 2013 but also pointed to potential issues in that area in the future that he said the city would stay vigilant on.

“With the way the world is, I’m concerned that in a couple of years – if energy prices begin to rise – it could catch up with us,” emphasized Reeves. “I would say, as a country, one of the biggest issues we’re facing is going to be affordable, reliable electricity. Higher energy prices filter through everything. Everything we deal with is related to energy.”

Reeves also said he believes there is a potential solution for those concerns.

“I think natural gas is really something that needs to be embraced as a bridge to wherever we’re headed with energy,” he said. “We’ll figure out this energy thing eventually but I think natural gas is going to need to be that bridge. We really need to educate the public to a point where they understand that we have to use an ‘all of the above’ approach and I think natural gas is at the top of that list, as far as a transition.”

Circling back to the growth of Troy, Reeves made it a point to talk about the expansion of existing businesses in the city.

“That’s one thing that has been so wonderful about our community is that a lot of our existing industries are growing and have grown,” he said. “That’s something we love to see. The old saying is you don’t want to make a new fried at the expense of an old one. We always want to try and expand our economic footprint but if we do that with an existing industry or business, that’s amazing.”

Reeves pointed to growth of industries like Baker Metals and the Sanders and K&W Companies – along with growth at Troy University – as being key to the city’s lower energy rates.

“Our residential electric rates are lower than anyone else in the state and the reason for that is because we have large industrial customers that keep us from having big swings in our power demand,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize the benefit to that. The Sanders Companies and the university and those types of places help offset that and the general public benefits from it.”