As a seasoned veteran on the Ardmore City Commission, Mayor Martin Dyer is no stranger to addressing city residents. During the annual Community Forum, Dyer recalled some messages from the past.
“A few years back in the State of the City, I said I was cautiously optimistic,” Dyer said. “In the next one, I said I was optimistically cautious. This time, I am totally optimistic. I think the city is on the right track and making progress.”
After introducing newest commissioner Doug Pfau and presenting the city department heads, Dyer dove into current affairs of the city.
This year’s budget is just under $70 million, up from $64 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Dyer said, of that amount, $19 million goes into the general fund. The rest goes to streets, infrastructure and other needs. The city’s primary source of revenue is sales tax, which fell short of projections in the past fiscal year. This year’s budget sets a projection with a more conservative 2 percent increase.
Among the highlights for the city this year, Dyer said, was a 3 percent cost-of-living-allowance raise for city employees. He also said for the first time ever, the fire department and police department unions had agreed to three-year contracts.
“It is the first time ever, and almost unheard of in cities,” Dyer said. “I think this reflects an unusual spirit of trust and good relations. It’s the highlight of the year. People don’t understand what an accomplishment this is.”
Dyer said the city has 287 miles of streets. Last year, 10 miles of street received new overlay, and he is optimistic for a similar achievement this year. Future street projects include Stanley Road, Mt. Washington Road and Rockford Road leading into Regional Park, and new lighted street signs at major intersections.
Building permits are slightly down, but new construction in terms of dollars is off to an extremely promising start for the year. An amount of $22 million was recorded for 2012, and $40 million for 2013. Six months into 2014, the figures are at $43 million. Dyer provided a list of new commercial and industrial activity that has taken place in the past year.
The city is currently taking steps to expand its office space. A city owned property on Stanley Road is being renovated and will be leased to Big 5, which is currently housed in a city property across the street on Mt. Washington Road. Dyer said the city plans on moving one or two departments across the street into the building after Big 5 relocates.
Dyer spoke about the Ardmore Airpark, and thanked the Ardmore Development Authority for its role in resolving legal issues.
“We are now in the next step of developing a master plan for the development of over 500 acres of land which has never been developed,” he said. “The city and the ADA have had a good relationship and partnership, and I want to extend our appreciation to the ADA board and its chairman, Gary Farabough, for all their hard work and efforts toward the airpark.”
Dyer touched on improvements made in the Parks and Recreation Department, which include new playground equipment at Regional Park as well as a dog park. He also talked about a new agreement in which the new Murray State College soccer teams will play at Regional Park.
Dyer spoke about ongoing efforts on Main Street, which include plans to renovate the Tivoli, and development of Depot Park. He also spoke briefly of hopes to improve Main Street with some streetscape efforts.
“We have some things that are doable that will make Ardmore a destination,” he said.
Dyer said he enjoys the new format from previous State of the City addresses. This is the second year for the Community Forum.
After Dyer’s address, city department heads and personnel were available for questions from the public.
“I think it went good,” he said. “I like the new format. In the old format, they asked a few questions. Now, everyone can ask questions and get the answers they came for.”
The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum. Mita Bates, president and CEO, said the event was able to build successfully in its second year.
“This year’s luncheon had real good attendance, which is reflected in our citizens’ involvement in community affairs,” she said. “Mayor Dyer did a good job, and I heard many compliments about the presentation.”