Powder Springs Mayor Reflects on Past, Looks Forward During State of City
Pat Vaughn gave her annual speech to more than 100 people at the Coach Ford Center Monday.
Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn discussed what’s happened in the last year, as well as what’s coming up for the city—road and facility improvements, a new park, and new fees and rates—during her 2012 State of the City address.
On the topic of public safety, she noted Police Chief Charlie Sewell starting in August 2011; the force moving into the new station in April 2011, with the dedication ceremony on Aug. 22; the department’s restructuring; new hires, including Maj. John Robison; the launching of the tip sheet program; producing monthly statistical reports to target problem areas; beginning the state certification process through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police; and partnering with McEachern Methodist Church’s Noah’s Ark Project for improving the Lancer neighborhood.
On the topic of Public Works, the mayor described Director Greg Ramsey starting in August 2011; the spring and fall Reside with Pride Weeks, where residents can dispose of bigger items at no additional costs; saving money by outsourcing janitorial and landscaping services; and completing many citizen requests for repairs.
For Community Development, Vaughn noted the acquisition of 12 of 16 flood-damaged homes through grants and insurance; a new city webpage listing available commercial properties; finishing a map of future condition flood plain mapping; opening 1,500 code enforcement cases, 65 percent of which had voluntary compliance; the organization of city events, including the National Day of Prayer, Farmers Market, Independence Day Celebration, Powder Springs Day, and the lighting of the Town Square tree; issuing 966 business licenses and 265 building renovation permits; and completing 32,890 square feet of retail shopping.
Vaughn discussed Community Development working with the county and the Postal Service in getting the ZIP code changed from Hiram’s to Powder Springs’ for those living in the city limits. The matter has resulted in confusion for matters like library cards, license plates and more, she said.
“We’re beginning to make some headway with that,” Vaughn said.
She told the audience about high school student Brent Crawford earning his Eagle Scout by redoing the Town Square fountain.
“We did have a couple engineers say, ‘Oh no, this is going to be a fortune to fix’ … So we delayed it,” the mayor said. “Well along comes the boy scout. And he comes in and he wants the project."
Vaughn discussed the stormwater fee that was approved in January and will help with increasing state and federal regulations regarding stormwater, as well as fund capital improvements.
“It was a very difficult decision, and the council spent a long time working through this,” she said.
She noted how Kennesaw had to pay $80 million in infrastructure repairs. “We’re trying to be proactive and handle it as it comes up."
Vaughn discussed the new water and sewer rates that will help compensate for the $295,000 loss in the budget last year and the current monthly loss of $30,000 monthly following higher rates from the county.
“The council never wants to pass on fees to citizens, but eventually, if you don’t, it catches up with you,” she said. “We want to make sure we maintain a reserve in the event that we have a serious problem” with our “aging infrastructure.”
The Linear Park is in the works, she said, and the first portion will be built at the Silver Comet Trail across from the police station on Sailors Parkway. The contents of the park haven’t been decided on yet but may include rock climbing, a dog park and more, she said.
The city is working toward stretching Lewis Road through downtown to Old Lost Mountain Road. “A lot of you have stated, ‘Well Lewis Road, is that the road to nowhere?’ No it isn’t; it looks that way today, but” it will be completed soon.
The most recent SPLOST will push the arts center attached to the Powder Springs Library forward, and it is still to be decided on whether it will be a cultural arts center or black box theater. “It will be, we feel like, very much used by the community.”
The SPLOST will also be used for sidewalk repairs on Warren Farm Road, Lancer subdivision and other locations; road resurfacing; building maintenance; and repairs on the city’s five bridges, two of which are “very much at the top of the list.”
During the council’s recent retreat, Vaughn said members came up with these qualities to define the city:
- A vibrant community
- A destination place
- A safe community
- A place for families to raise their children
- A place for quality commercial development
- A community that preserves our small town feel and charm
- A passionately involved community