The future looks pretty bright in Jasper, according to Jasper Mayor David O’Mary.O’Mary, in a Monday speech to the Kiwanis Club of Jasper, outlined some of the projects that are either already …
The future looks pretty bright in Jasper, according to Jasper Mayor David O’Mary.
O’Mary, in a Monday speech to the Kiwanis Club of Jasper, outlined some of the projects that are either already underway or will soon be underway in the city, and he gave a brief synopsis of the city’s finances.
“There are a lot of things I like to talk about, and most of it gives a pretty good look at what’s happening in the city,” said O’Mary, who’s been in office for 19 months now. “I really enjoy talking about our financial performance and the financial condition of the city ... and today we have a positive report to share.”
O’Mary, with the help of city clerk Kathy Chambless and executive secretary Laura Langley, outlined the city’s financial standing.
Chambless said currently the city is on pace to show revenues of $24.2 million through fiscal 2018, which ends on Sept. 30.
Expenditures — which include employee salaries and other expenses incurred by the city — are expected to stand at $23.7 million. That leaves a net change in the fund balance of some $500,000 — about $300,000 above what was budgeted.
“We are experiencing an increase in our sales tax,” Chambless said,” and that is above what we projected for the year.”
The city’s general fund balance at the end of fiscal 2018 is expected to grow to $3.2 million, up from $2.7 million at the end of fiscal 2017.
At the end of fiscal 2016, the city’s general fund balance stood at $1.4 million.
It grew by $1.3 million during fiscal 2017. “In my 30-plus years with the city, I can’t recall us ever having a $1.3 million fund balance,” Chambless said. “We did do some revenue increasing measures that year, and we worked with the city council and our mayor to get it done.”
What played a big role in that was what Chambless called “expense management.”
And what else can be credited with increasing the city’s financial standing?
“It’s starts with our leadership,” Chambless said, “and it goes all the way down to our department heads and our city workers. ... It starts at the top and goes to the bottom.”
Chambless said the city currently sits above what the state mandates cities to have.
“And that’s amazing to me,” she said, “because I never thought I would say that. We’re there, and we’re continuing to get better.”
O’Mary said the city currently has a number of projects either underway or expected to begin within the next few months, thanks to an $11.2 million bond issuance in early 2017.
Projects including paving the majority of city streets, which will cost about $7 million. Phase 1 of the three-phase paving project is currently underway.
Surveys to examine the condition of city streets, as well as the traffic count on each street, determine the order in which streets are paved, O’Mary said.
He said 75 to 80 percent off all streets in the city will be paved during the next year.
Other projects include replacing approximately 2,800 lighting fixtures with LED lighting.
O’Mary said the city is working closely with Alabama Power Co., which will provide all the LED fixtures and accessories, as well as installation of the lighting.
The project, which is expected to begin in about three months, should be completed by the end of the year, he said.
The change to LED will enhance the city’s appearance, as well as raise awareness on the environment.
A project to try to alleviate flooding problems in downtown Jasper is underway with work being done on Doctor’s Branch creek.
“That’s more than 40 years overdue,” O’Mary said, citing an engineering report from 1974 that said storm water drainage was an issue that needed immediate attention. “Today, we’re digging in to fix it. I think that qualifies as deferred maintenance.”
O’Mary said the city has also worked to provide body cameras to all members of the Jasper Police Department, including patrol officers and investigators.
Additionally, O’Mary announced just two weeks ago that all employees in the city will soon receive pay raises that he called “long overdue.”
O’Mary also briefly touched on recently completed work to redo a railroad crossing on Highland Avenue just off Old Birmingham Highway, and work along Airport Road that will widen a portion of the highly-traveled road from U.S. 78 to near the entrance to Woodland Hills subdivision.