A new year has dawned in Cannon County, and both Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick and County Executive Milke Gannon have a number of goals they would like to see accomplished before it's over.
What they will be able to get done, however, will depend greatly on the state of the economy at all levels — local, state and national.
“Our number one goal for 2011 is to complete the water rehab project that was approved by the State of Tennessee in late 2010 through a Community Development Block Grant," Mayor Patrick said. "This project will cost $575,000 with the state funding $500,000 and the city providing $75,000. This money will be used to replace some of our old meters and waterlines to reduce our water loss which is currently at 55%.
Patrick said the town's current water loss percentage is unacceptable to the State.
"It is believed that for every $500,000 directed to reduce the water loss, it will result in a 10% reduction in the water loss," Patrick said. "Therefore, it is imperative that this project be completed in 2011 in order that we can apply for an additional $500,000 grant in early 2012.
"Our project was ranked No. 2 out of 16 applications statewide, because it was related to reducing water loss. Therefore we feel that another application in 2012 directed toward reducing water loss will have a great chance of being funded. But, before we can apply, the current project must be completed," Patrick said.
The paving of College Street and the improvements to the tennis courts at Brown-Spurlock Park are products of planning and implementing that we will continue in 2011, the mayor said.
"Our Brown-Spurlock Park and Dillon Park are beautiful assets to our town. We take pride in the walking tracks, and lighted tennis and basketball courts. We will be adding new park benches and trash receptacles along the walking track in the Brown-Spurlock Park during 2011.
"We will continue to keep our parks clean and well manicured for all Cannon County and Woodbury residents to enjoy. The Lincoln Gannon playground area and the Kimmy Bush pavilion are great additions to the Brown-Spurlock Park and we thank the Woodbury Lions Club and numerous other individuals in providing the funds that built these worthy projects."
Also in 2011, the town will be applying for a grant to fund construction for a new Fire Hall, Patrick said. "This will be tough, as these grants are rare and very competitive. Our Fire Hall is 50 years old, dilapidated, and located within the floodplain, so we believe we will have a competitive grant application."
If it can be done without a tax increase, Patrick indicated the town would make some new equipment purchases.
“This fiscal year we are planning to purchase one or two new trucks for the water and sewer system, and to upgrade some other equipment if revenues permit." he said.
"Revenue concerns will always hamper what the town would like to accomplish, but we are here to provide a service and the cost of providing that service will increase each year. It is my hope that we can purchase the new equipment and pay for it with increasing revenue through the sales tax. With our region in a recession, we will do all we can to avoid a property tax increase or a water rate increase this year."
Patrick said he believes the town's revenues are about on par with what was projected for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, but added the next two months will be crucial.
“Our revenue so far is slightly behind our projections. The upside to this is our sales tax is slowly, but consistently showing improvement. I will not have our December numbers until mid-January, but I believe this will be our best month and hopefully will continue to improve in 2011. Property tax collections are behind last year’s pace, but with February 28th being the deadline, we should see additional collections the next two months. Beer tax collections are running ahead of projections with other revenue running very close to projections. We continue to monitor our spending to ensure we stay within our budget."
County Executive Gannon said his goals for 2011 will be greatly effected by the national and state economies. "There is a lot I would like to see done, but whether we are able to or not depends on whether we have the funding," he said.
Like Patrick, Gannon would like to see the county avoid having to raise taxes this year.
"We have come through this recession better than most of our surrounding counties, but until we are completely out of it I don't think raising taxes would be the right thing to do."
Gannon said there will be an added burden on the county commission and the budget committee to try and continue to provide essential services without a tax increase.
"There is a time and a place for everything and a recession is not the time to raise taxes," he said. "I think we will be able to maintain what we are doing if we watch any new spending."
Gannon said among the county's pressing needs are a new ambulance center and an animal shelter, but added, "we would have to get grant funding to afford either one."