Perry strategic plan looking at new fees, more civic involvement

mstucka@macon.comMay 21, 2014 

PERRY -- The city’s plan for its future began to take shape Wednesday when residents working on the strategic plan called for improved outreach to minorities and strategic partners, traffic circles at two of the city’s busy but strange intersections, and improvements for recreation.

The strategic planning process is intended to work in both the short and long terms, and participants Wednesday offered specific suggestions. One of the few holes was in the city government’s efforts to find more revenue.

Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said the city is interested in looking at revenue sources that generally pay for related services. The city already has a stormwater utility fee that is paying for upgrades to its stormwater systems. Meanwhile, Perry is considering a fire fee to cover costs of growing the city’s fire department.

Faircloth even mentioned naming rights.

“I am all for reducing taxes and fees and whatever you call it, but unless we reduce the service we need an alternative (source of revenue),” he said.

City residents continued to brainstorm ways to improve downtown housing and businesses. The city also has been working to find ways to upgrade Gen. Courtney Hodges Boulevard, a major commercial route and gateway to the city that is dilapidated.

Improved communication appears likely to be a major focus of the city’s strategic plan. Several committees said the city had to get more diversity in public meetings and other parts of civic life.

That could start with simple efforts such as getting community events advertised in church bulletins or printing a city newsletter to distribute at events for senior citizens.

Planners also want to ensure good communication among different groups, including the city government, chamber of commerce, Robins Air Force Base and the Georgia National Fairgrounds.

Behind many of the discussions was a realization that Perry’s government does not have much money to throw at problems.

“We’ve got to do this with partners and volunteers. There’s no other way we can do this,” said Terry Moody Walker, the wife of a City Council member and leader of the study committee on recreation.

A draft of the plan is expected in about a month.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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