State of the City: 'Things Are Better'
Mayor Mike Bodker talks fiscal responsibility, transportation at annual address.
Some 200 members of the Johns Creek community turned out Friday morning at the Atlanta Athletic Club to hear Mayor Mike Bodker's annual State of the City address.
"We started the movement for the city of Johns Creek back in 2004," Bodker said. "It was a fascinating and exciting time for many of us. . . . I believe that now — entering our sixth year of cityhood, we can say we did the right thing and honestly — things are better."
Bodker pointed to some positive news regarding the economy and development within the city. While the city saw its fourth year of declining revenue, that decline has slowed. In 2010 revenue slipped to $45,814,525 from $47,353,575 in 2009. In 2012 revenue was projected to fall to $44,854,452 fro $45,236,227 in 2011.
"I think we are all looking forward to the day when budgets aren’t quite as tight, but in the meantime it is our job to work with what we have," Bodker said. "As everyone in this room probably knows, the city council has not raised the millage rate to the allowable cap. In fact, in order to compensate for the downturn in the economy, we have looked for leaner and more efficient service delivery at every turn — tightened the belt you might say. At the same time — we have not cut services."
Bodker pointed to recent successes the city has seen, despite running on a lean budget, including Johns Creek playing host to the PGA last August and its traffic plan it enacted to successfully prevent gridlock in the area; the opening of Park Place senior center and the Dream Dog Park; the completion of Phases 1 and 2 of the greenway; the inaugural Farmers Market; therecognition Johns Creek received for dealing with last year's snow storm that shut down most of the metro area; and decreases in traffic fatalities and fire department response times.
An increase in commercial building permits is another sign the city is progressing in the right direction, he said, with 124 issued in 2011 after reaching a low of 83 in 2009.
"I can tell you that the council and I have had a significant uptick just in requests for ribbon cuttings," he said. "This is great news for us."
Bodker also brought up the Transportation Investment Act, a regional penny sales tax that will go before voters this summer and for which he served on the board that drafted the project list.
"I am not asking for your vote — but what I am asking for is that you look honestly at the problem and recognize its seriousness," said Bodker, who served on the commission that drafted the transportation project list. "It took 30 years to create this problem and may take even longer to remedy but we have to start somewhere."
Responding to a question from the audience regarding the development of a town center, Bodker said he would love to see the business community step up and build one.
For a slide presentation of the points covered in the address, see the PDF accompanying this article.