Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin and Hiram Mayor Teresa Philyaw delivered their 2016 State Of The Cities addresses outlining current initiatives in their respective cities at the October Chamber of Commerce Georgia Power Luncheon in Dallas.
Philyaw gave her first SOTC address since being elected in November. Philyaw had served on the council for several years in Post 1 prior to taking over as Mayor.
In addition to Philyaw, Hiram's council includes two new faces since last year and its second city manager since the 2012 council approved a measure to amend the city charter to allow for the addition of a city manager. Frank Moran (Post 1), Jeff Cole (Post 3), and City Manager Barry Atkison joined Philyaw this year. Cole replaced Philyaw on the council.
Since 2015 Hiram's council has focused on infrastructure improvements throughout the downtown business district and also last year withdrew its support of the Paulding County Economic Development Organization in favor of working with a downtown business association.
Both Moran and Philyaw expressed their desire to work harder to seek funding sources for city projects apart from dipping into municipal reserves.
The South Forty project follows the recent completion of Hiram's Main Street Improvement project, in the works since last year. The project installed new water and sewer lines, new sidewalks, new curb & gutters, street lights and paving, part of a master plan for the development and re-development of Hiram's downtown area.
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During their October session the council considered the scope, funding and schedule for their South Forty Project as milling and paving East and West, and curb and gutter replacement as required, at a cost not to exceed $300,000. The city is accepting bids to begin that project in fiscal 2017.
Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin is serving a record-setting sixth consecutive term. Austin's mayoral career has now spanned two decades.
Together with Mayor Austin three council members faced no challengers in the last election. Dallas council members Mike Cason, Jim Henson and James Kelly Jr. were unopposed. Kelly Jr., At-Large council member and mayor pro tem serves his fourth term. Henson serves a second term in Ward 4 and Cason, Ward 2, began on the council in 2002.
In his comments to Paulding business leaders Mayor Austin characterized the council members as, above all, dedicated to Dallas and he added that they have always focused on doing the best job they can and doing the best for the city.
Austin is also the first person from Paulding to serve as president of the Georgia Municipal Association and has been noted by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the most influential Georgians.
As with Hiram the Dallas downtown area continues to be the focus for a Downtown Merchant's Association through annual events and an influx of several new businesses including restaurants that would serve the working and student populations, Austin said.
Austin said that Moody's had recently given the city an "A-1" rating, rare for a first-time application, and added that it will save the city "hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years." Moody's Investors Service is one of the big three credit rating agencies and provides international financial research on bonds issued by commercial and government entities.
In closing Austin gave a nod to his brother and Paulding's Commission Chairman David Austin, commending him on the merits of his record and what he has accomplished in the face of hard times in the county both economically and politically. Chairman Austin concludes his second term in December and did not seek re-election.
Austin also made a broad reference to Paulding's ongoing conflict over the future of Silver Comet Field, now mired in litigation and unable to generate enough revenue to pay a full-time director.
"I hope we can move forward in a new administration and work together...I hope some of the turf wars will be resolved and court cases dispensed. I hope we can get on with the business of this city, and this county, and this region. We will never be able to grow as long as we look like a circus to the rest of the world; I don't want to be a sideshow." Austin said.
Following his address Austin said that when the time comes he would consider seeking re-election to a seventh term as Dallas mayor.