Georgiana council seeks solutions to city’s woes

Published 5:31 pm Thursday, March 11, 2010

The City of Georgiana’s crumbling infrastructure, a need for growth in business and industry, and ways to bring the town into the 21st century were some of the hot topics of conversation at March’s city council meeting.

From creating a website for the city to help keep citizens informed and potentially attract new industry, to cleaning up properties and beautifying the city’s landscape, the mayor and council members all expressed a desire to see their town move forward.

“I’ve looked at websites and I agree with Byron (Ward) this is something we seriously need to be pursuing. We need to have something out there to tell people about Georgiana and what we have going on here,” said council member Lisa Lowe.

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Noting 2010 was the Year of Small Towns in Alabama, Lowe also expressed an interest in Georgiana pulling together an event to draw visitors to south Butler County. “Let’s get them here and give them something to look at,” Lowe said.

Council member Joy Cobb suggested the city declare a City Clean-Up Time in the spring to work on clearing up the trash and debris cluttering the streets of Georgiana.

“I think that’s a great idea. We could also get the churches and schools involved,” Mayor Mike Middleton said.

Planting shrubs and flowers donated to the city was another planned project, costing Georgiana nothing more than “a bit of labor,” said Middleton. The possibility of getting civic groups involved and holding district block parties was also discussed.

The mayor said he had received no replies as of yet to the letters sent out last month requiring local trailer park owners to clean up their properties and repair their roads.

Cobb said she had visited trailer parks in her District 2 to remind their owners the clean up and road repair was their responsibility.

“They’ve complained the garbage trucks were tearing up the roads. Well, they are in a position where the people can move their cans for emptying and the trucks won’t have to come on the road. But they are going to have to do some work,” Cobb said.

“Some of the people in my district want their driveways repaired, and I’ve told them, the City will do the repairs, but they have to supply the pipes.”

Because the cost of many utilities has been kept low inside the city, Georgiana faces a huge challenge: how do you pay for the repairs of an aging system and get needed updates without increasing the charges or obtaining loans and getting even deeper in debt?

“I was told last year by the USDA we needed to go up on our water bills by $17 a month if we wanted to have a better chance at getting grants. I told them we have so many people on a fixed income here, I didn’t think that would go over too well,” Middleton said.

“I have requested $2.5 million for roads, $ 2 million for sewer and $1 million for a water tank in my wish list I had to send to our senators last month. How much we will get or if we will get any of it, I don’t know. In the meantime, we just have to fix things piece-meal, the way we’ve been doing it.”

Because small increases of $2 and $3 in utility costs have been rejected over the years, the City of Georgiana now finds itself potentially facing much larger rate hikes if they want to be eligible for much-needed grants.

“Look around and we have some of the lowest utility costs. You can live cheaply here, yes – but now we are paying the price for that,” Lowe said.

It was suggested an open meeting should be scheduled to explain the situation and lay out the options for Georgiana’s citizenry.

“We are trying to move this city forward in a positive direction. It may require us to get a bit creative,” Lowe said. “And it may require us to pay more to get what we need.”

The Georgiana City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month.