Mayor-elect Reynolds answers questions
Pharmacist Edward Reynolds, who was elected to the at-large Council seat in 2005, is one of the children of late, longtime Bainbridge Mayor Bill K. Reynolds. He is running unopposed for the office of mayor.
At its past two annual retreats, the current Council has discussed the possible renovation and/or redesign of the two buildings that make up City Hall and the city-owned Kwilecki building into a more modern, functional structure. What’s your feeling on how the project should progress during the next two years?
Reynolds: First, I think good planning is important to any building project. I will support contracting with the committee recommended architectural firm and begin the study and planning stage this fiscal year. A good plan would have many aspects that will be important. Functionality for city staff, accessibility for citizens, historical integrity, public reception areas, and good impression for continued development of Bainbridge. The second year will be addressed as a timeline based on our planning and SPLOST monies are allocated.
The City of Bainbridge currently makes more than $100,000 per year from its 5 percent hotel/motel tax, at least 2 percent of which must be spent on promoting tourism. What do you think is the best way to spend this and other monies on tourism?
Reynolds: I continue to support community festivals and concerts in our community as stimulus for tourism in Bainbridge. Fishing and tennis tournaments have been successful in the past. The completion of the boat ramps at the boat basin should entice additional interest for one of our largest tourism assets, the Flint River. With the development of the additional baseball/softball fields, I hope we will be able to expand into tournaments for those sports as well.
Given the popularity of the city’s baseball/softball leagues and other Leisure Services programs, how would you like the council to support their growth?
Reynolds: The additional fields and facilities are a major step in supporting this successful program. I would continue to be supportive of development of these programs as well as other sports programs, such as the football program and in the future, a possible soccer program.
What are your ideas on how the city government can help encourage the creation of new jobs and bolster both existing and potential business activities?
Reynolds: Continued support to the Industrial Development Authority is critical. Infrastructure planning and improvements will continue to be important to business growth and development in our community. Supporting existing industry is the best way to bolster additional job creation in Bainbridge. We cannot overlook our support for the Board of Education, Bainbridge College and Memorial Hospital for each of their roles in making our community attractive to possible development. We will continue to work closely with Decatur County officials in these areas, for “a rising tide raises all ships.”
Would you be in favor of enacting an ordinance that placed a preference on local bidders if it were worded in a legal manner?
Reynolds: I would not be in favor of a local bidder preference ordinance. I believe any ordinance would taint the bidding process and prevent us from obtaining the most competitive bids. Materials we buy have very narrow margins, and it would be nearly impossible to set a manageable percentage.
Declining overall revenues have made the drafting of the City of Bainbridge budget difficult in 2008 and 2009. How do you think the city can continue to balance its budget (spending no more money than it takes in)?
Reynolds: Certainly, monitoring spending is an important part of the budgeting and planning. Understanding that continue development and maintenance of existing city facilities must continue. Past city leaders and staff have done an excellent job at financial planning and our city is in a very good financial situation, as compared to many governments throughout the state. I do feel it is important our city is good stewards of the present monies we receive.
Both elected officials and citizens have indicated a demand for more pedestrian walkways and crossings, as well as the addition of more bike lanes. How should the City Council proceed on this issue?
Reynolds: Both are expensive additions to city roadways. We continue to develop some of these in the downtown core where pedestrian traffic is important to businesses and residential uses. I think some planning could be made to identify pedestrian friendly “corridors” to connect some of our major recreational, business and residential areas. But I don’t place a very high likelihood of being able to implement them in our present financial situation.
Although city officials state there is a 90 percent occupancy of downtown buildings, there are still a few buildings that are unoccupied or in need of repair. What role should the council have in promoting downtown business and activity?
Reynolds: Our council and many previous councils have worked hard to set up the Downtown Development Authority. The revolving load funds and facade grants have improved our downtown area significantly. The Authority and the Mainstreet staff will continue to encourage improvements in the downtown properties. I do think the city will play a role in developing plans to identify areas where we can encourage downtown development. Our plan to develop City Hall, as well as the parking lot behind it, is a major infusion of capital and most likely, additional active jobs, in the downtown core.
Public Safety statistics indicate the city has issues with violent crimes (some of them gang-related), arsons and nuisance animals. How would you seek address those problems?
Reynolds: We must continue to offer resources and equipment to Bainbridge Public Safety. The purchase of the necessary vehicles is a basic need that we have meet in recent months. We should continue to monitor this to see if additional equipment or officers will be important to make improvements in these statistics. The Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society has been doing an outstanding job with animal control in our community. I applaud the county for stepping up and partnering with us in animal control and picking up their share of the financial burden. I see continued improvement through this cooperation. I feel increasing cooperation with Sheriff Wiley Griffin and the county could bring improvement in all these areas.
City Manager Chris Hobby has said that due to the state of the economy, the current budget excludes any direct spending on several community events, including entertainment in conjunction with its 4th of July fireworks in 2010. How do you think the council should decide whether or not to continue funding for city-sponsored community events in future years?
Reynolds: I feel these types of events are important to the quality of life we offer here. Tourism dollars as well as corporate sponsorship of some of the events may be necessary to see these events continued.