Paulding County Commission Chairman David Austin gave his final address as Commission Chairman to Paulding business leaders at the December Chamber Luncheon in Dallas.
Austin titled his remarks "Thanks for the Memories" and tracked his two-term career as Paulding's Commission Chairman, which began in 2009 and concludes with the final December Board of Commissioners meeting.
Prior to his comments to business leaders at the Chamber event Austin said that he's "ready to move on."
Austin's time in office was hindered through his initial term by a flagging economy and the need to trim budgets and later through the second term by controversy surrounding the future of Paulding's Silver Comet Field.
Austin referred to Paulding's airport as a "$50 billion dollar asset" that has been "held hostage for the last three years" tied-up in litigation, over which he added, the county has yet to lose a case, but also added that litigation is ongoing and still being filed.
Austin exits as the struggle over Paulding's airport continues, and incoming Chairman-elect David Carmichael will inherit the quest for a lasting solution.
see farewell/page 5
Since last year, and with the shifting positions of post commissioners, Austin has been the dissenting minority vote on the board more often than not, but has yet still managed to notch some notable projects that were completed under his watch.
"In the last eight years we've endured a 500-year flood, a tornado, two ice storms, and we've never raised taxes on maintenance and operations in the county. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 4.5 percent, and the highest per capita income in the northwest Georgia regional commission, that's 49 cities and 15 counties, and I'm very proud of that," Austin said.
Austin said that the county's reserve fund when he began stood at $17 million and is now up to $40 million.
Austin noted the 16-year pursuit of the permit to build the Richland Creek Reservoir that was obtained, a Department of Driver Services facility added to the Watson Government Complex, WellStar Hospital was established and has seen expansion, and in October, Austin also presided over the official opening of the Bill Carruth Parkway, the county's now completed four-lane by-pass road, first conceived and pursued by namesake Bill Carruth and with Austin and other local officials dating back to 1990.
Chairman-Elect Carmichael was involved in training and not in attendance at last week's luncheon. He will take over from David Austin in January. Carmichael gave up his Post 1 seat earlier this year to run for Commission Chairman and defeated former post commissioner Roger Leggett in a runoff.