SF improvements highlight 2012; city manager seeks more of the same

SF improvements highlight 2012; city manager seeks more of the same
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The past year has seen several improvements in South Fulton.
City manager Debra Craig hopes 2013 holds more of the same.
In reflecting on 2012, Mrs. Craig pointed out a number of significant accomplishments that have improved the community as a whole, as well as city operations.
One of the most exciting achievements in recent months was the awarding of a park grant with the assistance of community leader Jeff Campbell, who generously offered to provide the matching funds for the project. It will bring a much-needed park to South Fulton in the coming year.
This past year, both the city’s rural fire and property maintenance ordinances were revised after thorough study. Mrs. Craig said the rural fire ordinance “seems to be working so far, with no decreases in collections as feared,” while the property maintenance ordinance gives more serious consequences to owners of unkempt properties and implements avenues for fee collection.
Work on the city’s sewer rehabilitation project continued in the past year and more will come in the new year through Community Development Block Grant funding.
Other improvements in 2012 in South Fulton included repairing and resurfacing some city streets; implementing a pothole detection program and making significant repairs to potholes; the city commission’s recent decision reactivating a bridge project which will result in repairs to the bridges on Forrestdale and Central avenues; demolishing several houses that had been deteriorating for several years; and activating the Nixel community notification system to keep residents informed.
“We’re looking forward to having the bridges done next year,” Mrs. Craig said.
Also in the coming year, she is looking forward to seeing the city tear down more dilapidated houses to improve the community’s appearance; completing street lights in annexed areas; applying for more grant funding for sewer plant improvements; and soliciting help to clean Harris Fork Creek.
There were also some new businesses which opened in the past year in South Fulton, according to the city manager, who noted the city would welcome any business or industry which would consider locating there.
The Twin Cities’ ambulance issue was also resolved in the past year when Parkway Regional Hospital took over the financially-troubled service and it was restructured, and South Fulton recently resolved a financial issue related to excess funds in an ambulance account.
The city hosted its first successful community event — an Easter egg hunt — at the municipal complex in 2012 and supported several community, civic and school events. The city manager said she hopes to see more of the same in the new year.
“We are going to hopefully do more community events, explore more grant opportunities — just do what we can to increase our public image in South Fulton and increase employee morale and anything else positive that we can do,” Mrs. Craig said.
Internally, Mrs. Craig completed her certification as a certified municipal finance officer in the past year and several other city employees also gained important certifications that will help city operations. Plus, the city received excellent evaluations in its water and wastewater plant operations.
The city’s personnel policy was also revised and several aging vehicles in the public works and police departments were replaced with new models. The city is in the process of updating its billing software to provide more accurate financial reports and is updating its phone system to be more customer friendly.
“All of this was done without any tax increases or fee increases,” Mrs. Craig said.
The past year also saw a change in the makeup of the South Fulton City Commission, with former mayor David Crocker opting not to seek re-election and Ed Cassetty being elected as mayor in November. Two new commissioners, Scott Ellegood and Beatrice Wilcox, also joined the panel.
Cassetty has an open-door policy and has set up an office at the city’s municipal building.
“I’m looking forward to working closely with the new mayor,” Mrs. Craig said. “He has an interest in everything, which is wonderful, and is involved firsthand. He and the two new commissioners have gone to training for newly-elected officials and have a better understanding. I’m looking forward to a unified environment.”
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 12.31.12

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