Lamb, Palmer respond to local issues
Of the three Bainbridge City Council posts that will be filled by next Tuesday’s election, only one is contested. That contested seat is for District B, Post 5, currently held by Roslyn Palmer. She is opposed by Willie Lamb Sr.
In the election for two other council seats, incumbents Dean Burke and Luther Conyers will be re-elected without opposition. Earlier this week, The Post-Searchlight provided a short list of questions to Lamb and Palmer, concerning the issues faced by the Bainbridge City Council. Listed below are their responses.
Do you feel like the city hall renovation will be a good use of SPLOST money? Why or why not?
Lamb: I feel that the City Hall renovation will be a good use of SPLOST money only if that was the intended use for it when the voters voted for it, it is in compliance with [the Georgia Constitution] and will not increase operating expenses. I would prefer SPLOST money be used to improve infrastructure within the city.
Palmer: I am one of the most fiscally conservative members of the current City Council and I do support the use of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money for city hall renovations. The most important factor to remember in this issue is that in September 2008, the voters overwhelmingly approved the money to be spent on this project when they passed SPLOST 5; City Hall renovations were spelled out on the ballot in that election and this is the end result of that vote. This penny tax comes not from property taxes but from money spent in our community by both local citizens who are shopping and visitors/tourists to our community who also are chipping in towards our local projects.
If you visit City Hall, you will see major structural issues and obsolete wiring handling modern technology — just two of the problems that will be corrected with renovations. Also to be addressed will be issues with mold and mildew. The renovation will allow City Council chambers to move downstairs, giving easier access to citizens who need/want to attend meetings; security and safety issues that currently exist within the council chambers will also be remedied. The council chambers will allow the city’s municipal court business to finally be conducted on city property. The new facility is also expected to drastically lower the city’s utility costs through energy saving features to be implemented in the renovation.
Costs to renovate City Hall appear to me to be a good investment of SPLOST money. The City of Hartwell is building a brand new city hall with 3,000 less square feet than ours at a projected cost of $4 million. This helps assure me that our renovation project is on-target as far as the costs are concerned.
I also realize that a town without a viable downtown is not a healthy community. Downtown is the heart and soul of the community and keeping City Hall as an anchor around the square is very important to Bainbridge’s overall health and vitality.
Do you support holding a referendum that would allow citizens to vote on Sunday alcohol sales in Bainbridge? Why, or why not?
Lamb: Yes, I support holding a referendum that would allow citizens to vote on Sunday alcohol sales in Bainbridge. I believe in people having a voice in the policy making decisions of the local government.
Palmer: I support holding a referendum to allow citizens to vote on Sunday alcohol sales in Bainbridge. Citizens were given that right in the 2011 legislative session, so we as leaders in the community must make that privilege available to them no matter how we feel personally about Sunday alcohol sales.
What do you think the role of the City of Bainbridge should be in attracting new businesses to Decatur County?
Lamb: I think the role of the city of Bainbridge in attracting new businesses to the First Port City should be one that offers goals of community growth and a qualified workforce that will produce quality goods and services.
Palmer: The City should support the Development Authority in their efforts to both attract new businesses and grow existing businesses. Our policies, license requirements, fees, etc., should be clear and readily available (and they are, especially with the city’s updated website).
City officials must remain very active and involved with the Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce and must have a good working relationship with them, as well as with our counterparts in county government. Important, too, is the city’s support to the Downtown Development Authority, because of the investment we have made in our downtown. Bainbridge has a jewel in our downtown; cities across the state that do not have downtowns are actually building historic-looking downtowns to draw and attract new businesses and residences. Across the state and even the nation, communities with downtowns that are well kept and attractive seem to have a “leg up” in attracting potential new businesses and industry.
Do you feel like keeping the Bainbridge police and fire departments combined under the umbrella of “Bainbridge Public Safety” is still a good idea, and why or why not?
Lamb: Yes, I feel that keeping the Bainbridge police and fire departments combined under the umbrella of “public safety” is still a good idea and economically sound with the staggering economy and uncertainty of employment.
Palmer: At this time I support the public safety concept. A new public safety director is coming on board soon and I look forward to seeing what new ideas he brings with him. I hope our citizens will give him a fair chance, welcome him and his wife to Bainbridge and support his efforts.
I remember the “pre-public safety” days, when there was both a fire department and a police department. When there was a fire call, the police were also on the scene, helping to haul hoses and fight fires without proper training and equipment. Now they have both the training and equipment that is needed to safely fight fires. Of importance to me are statistics that show that the response time of those public safety cars arriving on the scene minutes before the fire truck has saved many properties and lives over the years.
How do you think the planned River Walk will help the city’s recreational and economic goals?
Lamb: I think the planned River Walk will help the city’s recreational and economic goals if it provides opportunities for all citizens to be active participants in the planning process. Allow for input from many and not a select few.
Palmer: The River Walk will not only be a terrific facility for Bainbridge residents, but will also be an attraction for visitors to spend an afternoon, a weekend, or longer. These people spend money here on gas, food and other amenities that bolster Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money that we collect. Vibrant river front communities seem to have river fronts that are “alive” with activity and Bainbridge hasn’t utilized our river to its full potential. The River Walk project will allow that to happen. Recreation is a huge industry in Georgia and one of our big economic drivers locally. We need to capitalize on it in every way possible and the River Walk will allow that to begin to happen.
Why should we vote for you?
Lamb: You should vote for me because I believe we all have so much to be thankful for. I believe taking small steps forward over small steps backwards will get us far in rebuilding our community and making it a viable place to live and raise a family. I believe in a new beginning for a new era of leadership, where I work diligently to be the best ambassador for Bainbridge, to form positive working relationships that will set and accomplish goals, be proactive in problem-solving, and create an environment where we all love to work, play and live. It’s a new destination comprised of hard work, dedication, and commitment.
Palmer: Voters in District B should vote for me to continue representing them in Post 5 because, quite frankly, experience counts! My 24 years of experience has afforded me the opportunity to network with civic, business, government and industrial leaders not only on the local level but regionally and statewide also. I have over 120 hours of training that the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) offers elected officials; it is in such vital areas as planning and zoning, human resources, finance/budget, economic development, strengthening families, revitalizing neighborhoods, leadership and ethics. I am also a respected leader on the state level and currently I am serving as the president of GMA’s 10th district of elected officials and as a member of the board of directors of the Georgia Municipal Association.
I view serving on City Council as my way of giving back to the community that has been so good to me and my family. As owner of a small business with my husband, I see and interact with people from all walks of life. I am an independent thinker on issues before the council and I am fiscally conservative.
I am very involved in the community, serving on the boards of the Bainbridge/Decatur County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Bainbridge-Decatur County Council for the Arts. I serve as a member of the school council at Bainbridge High School. I am currently serving as the chairman of the Decatur-Grady 911 Board, which oversees the operation of the 911 system for the two counties. I am active in the Chamber of Commerce, having served as past chair of both the Chamber and the Downtown Development Authority. I am a graduate of Leadership Georgia and the Chamber’s leadership program. I am active in Temple Beth El. Through my involvement in the community, I have broad based contacts with people from all areas and feel that even though you are electing me to represent you in District B, I serve and represent all of Bainbridge through my various activities.