While assuring the City of Georgetown was in a “good place,” Mayor Tom Prather also used his annual State of the City to warn of some “challenges’ facing the city.
Before a packed house of about 250 community and business leaders at the Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon, Prather shared some of the city’s achievements during the past year, some upcoming projects during the next year and some hurdles the city may face in the future.
Prather also took the opportunity to praise the city council, saying this council is strong and capable of making hard decisions.
Achievements singled out by the mayor include:
—A state of the art communication system “that makes our community safer.” The 9-1-1 radio system eliminates some dark spots in the county in which first responders could not communicate. All city and county first responder units will be able to communicate with each other once everyone is online. The 9-1-1 center will also be renovated as part of the project.
—An extensive code enforcement initiative throughout the county, that required inter-local ordinance changes in all jurisdictions. The most important part of the code enforcement changes was to align code enforcement with the Georgetown Fire Department under Fire Marshal Tim Thompson, Prather said.
“They have done remarkable work,” he said.
—A training burn center for the Georgetown Fire Department. The firefighters built the facility at a cost of $15,000, the mayor said.
—The completion of the sale of Cardome to the St. Francis Catholic Diocese. The sale was set up to be paid over a 20-year capital lease, but the church paid it off in four years, the mayor said.
—The approval of a syringe exchange program. Sixty-two people have participated in the program and 115 people were referred elsewhere, he said. Thirty-four percent of the people who participated in the program were diagnosed with Hepatis C, he said.
“We have information that we probably prevented 24 overdoses,” he said.
—The approval of a fairness ordinance. “Each of our citizens deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Prather said. Georgetown was the 13th Kentucky city to approve the ordinance.
Prather then eased into upcoming goals and projects including:
—The 30-year anniversary of the sister city agreement between Georgetown and Tahara Cho in Japan. The mayor recognized representatives from Tahara Cho and noted multiple sister city relationships ranging from schools, bodes of water and even sister quilting organizations.
Tahara Cho representatives will be in the city during Festival of the Horse, and a group from Georgetown will visit Japan a few days later.
Efforts to improve the community garden grounds at Yuko-En will be part of the project welcoming the Tahara Cho visitors.
— Nine homes in the Boston Community will be refurbished. The mayor reminded the attendees that a multiple- financial source approach will be needed to continue the work in the area.
— The mayor presented aerial photos of the Lanes Run business park and reviewed continued road improvements in that development.
—U.S 460 from just beyond the I-75 overpass through downtown Main Street to Paynes Depot Road will be repaved. The city is looking at numerous opportunities to increase parking in the downtown area as well.
“Our downtown is cool,” said Prather. “We have merchants, restaurants and pubs, plus all the people to make the downtown area possible.”
— The right-in, right-out access to Walmart shopping center is also planned for 2020. Private funding will cover most of the expense for the popular improvement.
The mayor encouraged everyone to participate in the 2020 census. “The census is a big deal. It affects everything we do; all federal money for all federally funded programs is based off the findings of the census,” said Prather. “We need to have a good census count.”
The mayor then presented a series of slides from the survey that highlight the status of city services. The mayor said the recent survey revealed many serious shortcomings in services such as the number of police and fire personnel saying Georgetown needs to expand both of those departments.
“Safety is the number one responsibility of our municipal government and we are falling behind,” said Prather. “We need to add another 17 police officers to our force, just to have the average number of police officers for a town our size.”
Prather encouraged the group to watch the 20-minute narrative of the complete survey on the city’s Youtube channel.
“This survey has provided us with facts and data to replace rhetoric,” said Prather. “There is power in the data. We will use the information and our vision for the future of our community and that will move us forward. The state of our city is strong.”
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