Be sure to vote
This Tuesday, Aug. 28, will be the election for mayor and council of Athens. It is important that you vote. In America we take voting for granted — we shouldn’t. Many people in the world do not have this right but wish they did.
A good mayor is progressive and will make decisions for the good of the community. A good mayor knows that some people will disagree with these decisions, but will make them anyway.
Our community, as well as our state and nation, will have difficult choices because of the economy.
Vote for change
Let’s review what Athens Mayor (Ronnie) Marks has accomplished over the last two years.
We’ve had very little replacement of the 700 jobs lost by Pilgrim’s Prides closure. Steelcase, a major local employer, has its equipment bids rejected locally in favor of outside interests. We have eyesore properties with little corrective action. Athens State University has had to take over a large storefront building on the square due to lack of successful renters and there are buildings on the square with broken glass in second story windows.
Streets in our citizens’ neighborhoods are in desperate need of paving, not filling potholes, and some need drainage improvements. A local developer has had several of his projects storefronts stand empty for two years and the city’s sales tax revenues are responsibly predicted to have a drop in the near future due to competing shopping centers in Madison and Huntsville.
There is no plan on how to use the utility building space, costing $300,000 after the City Hall personnel return to their new building. Police officers training costs are paid by the city and then hired by other cities due to non-competitive wages offered to Athens officers.
Paving parking lots and buying swampland related to the Sportsplex cost over $1,100,000, mainly with borrowed money, and provided no real benefit to all the taxpaying citizens. The city is spending millions of dollars for a new city hall and the partial costs of a new library, plus a requested 70 percent increase in the city’s funding allocation for the new library and two new personnel for the city costing over $100,000.
New CNG fuel pumps for $700,000 with no real demand for this fuel, by the public, and minor city vehicle maintenance savings. One million dollars borrowed to give to Calhoun College for little actual effective return to Athens citizens. We allocate city funds to various groups and organizations, without realistic in-depth review of their use of funds to justify the allocation.
Not a pretty or promising picture of astute decision making, particularly during the worst recession in 80 years. What’s really sad is the mayor cannot provide an in-depth long-range financial and capital expenditure plan because none is available.
Athens may become just a neighborhood adjacent to Huntsville. We need management changes in the city’s leadership that can get Athens on track to achieve that “gleaming city on a hill” we all want. Vote, on Tuesday, for change.
Quentin D. Anderson Sr.