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ON THE ISSUES

2017 Accomplishments

2016 Accomplishments

  • Columbus Consolidated Government (CCG) named one of the 2016 top fifty Best-Run Cities in America by Wallet- Hub.
  • In 2016, Columbus reported 10,571 Part-One crimes down 15%, or 1,821 crimes, from 2015. The overall crime rate is at its lowest level in over ten years, and shows a 33% decrease in Part-One crimes since its height in 2009.
  • CCG wins Bright Ideas Award from the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government (Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation) for Columbus’ Save A Pet Plan, which has resulted in a decreased euthanasia rate from 80% in 2010 to 20% in 2016 and has exponentially increased adoptions while protecting our citizens from diseased or dangerous animals.
  • For 2016, property crimes (9519) are down 34% from their height in 2009 (14,440). Violent crimes in 2016 (1052) are down 17% from their height in 2008 (1267), when the city experienced 30 murders.
  • Began transformative community renewal projects for the currently underutilized and blighted Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and the Winterfield neighborhood at Cusseta Road and South Lumpkin Roads.
  • Judicial confirmation of the validity of City’s long followed Charter directed budgeting process in Darr v. Columbus, GA Consolidated Government, et. al.
  • Legally confirmed appropriate and prudent legislative and administrative control of City’s budgeting process in Darr v. Columbus, GA Consolidated Government, et. al.
  • Worked with newly elected officials to dismiss costly, disruptive lawsuits against City.
  • Obtained Federal Rail Administration approval to proceed with truncated (faster and less expensive) environmental impact study of High-Speed Passenger Rail from Columbus Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
  • Georgia Department of Transportation included the Columbus to Atlanta passenger rail line on the Georgia State Passenger Rail Plan.
  • Westville Living Museum has begun construction and relocation on South Lumpkin Road.
  • Follow Me Trail is nearly completed, providing South Columbus and Ft. Benning cyclists and pedestrians a link to the Riverwalk trail.
  • Launched additional 27 miles (in addition to the existing 33 miles) of cycling/pedestrian trails, known as the Dragonfly Trails. Other pending trails include the Midtown Minimum Grid Project connecting Lakebottom Park to Uptown.
  • Expanded and improved Metra Public Transit service, which resulted in a 15% increase in Metra system usage in its first 8 weeks.
  • Expansion of Columbus State University into the 1200 block of Uptown with the newly open Frank D. Brown Health Sciences Building, which will welcome nearly 2,000 students a week to the area.
  • Improved graduation rates, standardized test scores and school rankings in our Muscogee County School District.
  • Concluded the Prosperity Initiative study led by the Chamber of Commerce to reassess Columbus’ strengths and challenges in this new era and to develop a plan to navigate our best, most prosperous future.
  • Columbus’ Built for Zero effort to end homelessness as we know it has housed some 139 homeless veterans and 135 chronically homeless individuals, exceeding goal and allowing us to more accurately assess the work left to be done in reaching our “functional zero” level for homelessness in Columbus.
  • Received Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) reaccreditation for the Columbus Police Department for the 8th straight time and for 24 straight years, placing Columbus among the best of the best in the country for law enforcement hiring, training, operations and review standards.
  • Launched Pastors Academy as part of our Community Policing program and public outreach efforts in order to foster increased awareness of hiring, training, oversight and other issue important to all citizens.
  • CCG Public Works Department received two state awards: 1) An “Outstanding Diversity Award” for our Up and Motivated employee leadership training conference; and 2) The “Public Works Administrative Manager of the Year Award” for Special Enforcement Division Head, Drale Short.
  • Purchased 29 new garbage trucks and 2 “Graballs” relieving a previously aged and crippled fleet and allowing more dependable garbage pick-up service.
  • Unemployment rate is down to 6.5% in 2016 from 6.8% in 2015, and down from 10.3% in December of 2010, though we continue to work to push those numbers even lower.
  • Enhanced arts scene and creative culture with the Way Down Film Festival, Fun Academy Motion Pictures, Creative South, Columbus MakesIT, Black Art in America, and the construction of the Bo Bartlett Center.

2015 Accomplishments

  • Columbus, Georgia, through the Zero 2016 Campaign, United Way, Home For Good and other community partners, permanently housed 86 homeless veterans, reaching the goal of “functional zero,” meaning Columbus has either housed all of its homeless veterans, or has the capacity and services to do so as additional homeless veterans are identified;
  • Additionally housed 55 chronically homeless (non-veterans), well on the way to meeting the goal of “functional zero” for the chronically homeless by the close of 2016;
  • Coordinated local homeless food sharing ministries, transitioning to a systemized collaboration of resources that builds relationships, connects people with needed services and provides immediate permanent housing;
  • Received broad support from the city government, school board and the Chamber of Commerce to place the “Thaw the Freeze” proposal on the November 2016 ballot to be voted on by citizens;
  • Through comprehensive budget reform, saved taxpayers some $15.5 million and reduced the negative impact to our General Fund Reserve by some $18 million;
  • Implemented the Rapid Resolution Initiative (led by Superior Court Judge Gil McBride, county officials and community partners) at the Muscogee County Jail saving taxpayers some $514,000 in direct costs and over $100,000 in indirect costs, resulting in an 5% reduction in overall jail population and the closure of one wing of the jail in just its first five months of operation;
  • Implemented a Police Retention Pay Plan in order to address pay compression and retention problems that have developed over the years;
  • Implemented one day a week household garbage pick-up, resulting in the right-sizing of our Waste Management service delivery, deferring some $450,000 in additional annual costs and increasing recycling, which increases the longevity of our existing landfill;
  • Columbus Council approved the county’s first Redevelopment District, Benning Tech Park, a 1232-acre district expected to bring 1,800 jobs and $118 million in capital investment to previously underdeveloped land in a blighted area of our community, and to add $47.5 million in ad valorem value to our digest at full buildout;
  • Began consideration of three other prospective Redevelopment Districts to be carried over to the New Year, to include the proposed City Village-Second Avenue District, the Liberty-Sixth Avenue District and the Uptown District, with the potential of adding hundreds of millions of dollars in community building, jobs and capital investment to areas which are much in need or currently underutilized;
  • Launched a Regional Prosperity Initiative through our Chamber of Commerce to assess our community competitiveness for jobs and workforce and to tackle issues related to poverty, which affects school performance, crime and economic development;
  • Approved a long awaited revision of Metra public transportation bus lines to meet the city’s present day needs, adding third shift bus service and expanding Dial-A-Ride service for those with disabilities, all funded by the generosity of our citizens through $22.4 million in TSPLOST funds;
  • Columbus, Georgia was one of nine cities in the State of Georgia to be named a “Bronze Level Bike Friendly City” by the League of American Bicyclists, while the Columbus Civic Center was named one of six “Silver Level Bike Friendly Business” in Georgia;
  • Through the Knight Foundation, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley and other community stakeholders, Columbus obtained grant funding to establish a cycling and pedestrian Minimum Grid that will connect the Uptown area with MidTown and initiated a civic relationship with the PATH Foundation to enhance cycling/pedestrian trails throughout the city;
  • Established a Pastor’s Police Academy to bridge the experiential and knowledge gap between our law enforcement officers and our citizens, and established an annual Prayer Vigil to End Violence to enlist all citizens in our effort to increase respect for life and one another and to send a community message that violence will not be tolerated;
  • Continued civic engagement and transparency through our 20th “Let’s Talk! …with the Mayor” Forum, as well as through other neighborhood association and civic group meetings and active social and traditional media.

2014 Accomplishments

  • Unanimously passed a prudent $263 million budget
  • Passed comprehensive employee healthcare reform saving taxpayers $4.5 million a year while still providing great value to our hardworking city employees
  • Saved $2.1 million in the first two years of Pension Reform, and increased 15-year projection of savings to over $28 million
  • Renegotiated Medical Center indigent and prisoner care contract saving the citizens at least $500,000 per year
  • Instituted Workers Comp administrative reform saving nearly $400,000 per year;
  • Passed with a near 60% approval the referendum on Redevelopment Districts
  • Returned to office with large majorities all incumbent City Councilors and the Mayor
  • Continued reduction in Unemployment Rate, now at 7.3%, with 1,300 jobs added through November of 2014 (400 more jobs than last year)
  • Achieved National Accreditation of Columbus Parks and Recreation with a near perfect score, joining just 135 Parks and Recreations Departments out of over 15,000 across the United States
  • Decreased pet euthanasia rate at Animal Care and Control Center from the horrific 80% rate in 2010 to 29.5% in 2014, and received a much sought after $600,000 grant to continue this important work
  • Increased recycling revenue 466% with new Recycling Center, which takes in 700 tons of recyclables per month saving millions in landfill costs and averaging $60,000 per month in gross revenue
  • Adopted the Best Practices Complete Streets standards to make our roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as functional for vehicles
  • Opened a dual-zip line course across the Chattahoochee River with our partners in Phenix City, Alabama
  • Completed a proposed update of our public transportation bus system for the first time since its inception to encourage use and remove economic stigma
  • Started the transformational process of revitalizing distressed areas in our community by: a) bringing much needed retail with nearly 400 new jobs to Victory Drive; b) redesigning the Buena Vista Road spiderweb roadblock; c) commencing the South Lumpkin Rails to Trails Project; d) re-striping roads during resurfacing to include bike lanes throughout Columbus; and, e) planning the revitalization of City Village, a 30-square block creative village on the bank of the Chattahoochee River
  • Provided every motorcycle cop with a body camera and every patrol unit with a dashboard camera, and placed an additional 76 Police Officers on the street since the 2009 OLOST
  • Invested in a long overdue state of the art software system for our Tax Assessor Department and Tax Commissioner's Office to allow taxpayers to pay online and access parcel and valuation information in a snap
  • Met with the Secretary of Transportation, the Federal Rail Administration and many others to pursue public-private grant partnerships to fund the next step to our proposed High Speed Passenger Rail line connecting Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta with our currently under-utilized Columbus Airport
  • Received 255 housing unit vouchers on behalf of our city partner Home For Good through the Zero: 2016 Initiative, which seeks to help end veteran and chronic homelessness outright by December 2015

2013 Accomplishments

  • Columbus, Georgia Named Top 100 Best Places to Live by Livability.com
  • Columbus Whitewater course named one of Twelve of the Greatest Man-made Adventures on the Planet by USA Today.
  • Reduced Unemployment Rate to 7.6%, adding jobs with Hostess, NCR, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Pratt Whitney, among others.
  • Reclaimed our status as second largest city in the State of Georgia and the 116th largest city in the United States.
  • CCG Parks and Recreation Department goes from worst to first in being named Georgia Recreation and Parks Association Department of the Year.
  • Completed first phase of High Speed Passenger Rail study from Columbus to Atlanta, showing line could be financially self-sustaining and positioning Columbus to have the first intra-state high speed passenger rail in the state.
  • Re-opened Boxwood Recreation Center and Comer Gym - rebuilding community and investing in neighborhoods.
  • Council unanimously passed proposed Urban Service District incentives and Redevelopment District ballot issue.
  • Opened longest Urban Whitewater Course in the world.
  • Opened new Citizen Services Center and world-class Aquatic Center and Recycling and Sustainability Center.
  • Opened first city Dog Park and Park Pavilion on reclaimed landfill property at Oxbow Meadows in South Columbus.
  • Entered into partnership to bring Westville outdoor living museum and camp ground to Oxbow Meadows in South Columbus.
  • Opened CCG Health and Wellness Center saving employees and taxpayers $186,000 per month through reduced deductibles, co-pays, drug costs and other savings.
  • Reformed City Worker's Compensation Administration System to save taxpayers an estimated $200,000 per year in administrative cost, and potentially millions more in efficient claims process.
  • Negotiated resolution to Veterans Parkway Streetscape Project impasse between environmental interests and billboard company, allowing completion of city's parkway beautification.
  • Conducted investigation of racial allegations between high ranking law enforcement professionals, took swift and decisive disciplinary action as to admitted culprit and restored professionalism to law enforcement agencies with minimum community upheaval or disruption.
  • Reduced animal euthanasia rate from 80% in 2010 to 38% in 2013 through Save A Pet program, drawing national recognition and grants.
  • Entered into innovative partnership with Coca-Cola and Piggly-Wiggly to encourage recycling through Recycle and Win program.
  • Completed first Citi-Serv Audits of Tax Assessors Office and Police Department.
  • The Mayor’s Commission on Passenger Rail has been meeting for just over two years.
  • The Commission (partnering with the city Planning Department and the Georgia Department of Transportation) engaged Atlanta-based HNTB to study the feasibility of High Speed Passenger Rail from Atlanta to Columbus (and perhaps on to Mobile and Tallahassee).
  • Georgia Department of Transportation grant monies and private donations funded the $360,000 feasibility study.
  • The study concludes that a High Speed Passenger Rail line between Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and the Columbus Airport is feasible.
  • The study identifies three alternative routes and technologies for said rail.
  • The primary proposed design is to have an Express High Speed Electric Train, with top speeds of between 150-220 mph, on a dedicated line up I-185 to I-85, along state owned right of way.
  • This Express train would require approximately 90 miles of rail and would reach Atlanta within 61 minutes, with one stop in Newnan, Georgia.
  • The estimated cost of a one-way ticket on the Express line is $41.42.
  • The electric Express rail could be completed in 16 years – about the length of time it takes to have a large bridge built or a major road expansion completed from concept.
  • The 2030 Express rail ridership, including the stop in Newnan, is estimated to be 1.1 million one-way trips per year.
  • Revenues from ticket sales and other associated goods and services ($23.6 million) would exceed the cost of annual operations and maintenance of the line ($19.5 million) in its first year of operation, making the line profitable and capable of paying off any bonds needed for rail construction.
  • The 90-mile electric rail line would cost approximately $3.9 billion (assuming a generous contingency of 30%), which cost is in line with rail and other major transportation projects.
  • Express rail is estimated to create a minimum of 11,000 jobs (the equivalent of nearly four Kia plants).

2012 Accomplishments

  • Unanimously reformed the City's Employee Pension Plan saving taxpayers some $25 million over 15 years while preserving benefits for employees.
  • Improved City's Bond Rating from Aa2 to Aa1 (Moody's).
  • Established a budgetary reserve for the 2008 Other Local Option Sales Tax.
  • Established a Capital Replacement Plan to responsibly maintain equipment inventory and assure expected city services.
  • Passed TSPLOST ($300 million over 10 years) to fund third-shift and intercity bus service, Buena Vista - Spider Web improvements, interstate access to Benning Tech Park, and completion of 16-mile River Walk, among others.
  • Reduced Crime to lowest levels in six years - down 23% from its height.
  • Adopted Citi-Serv government efficiency auditing process.
  • Issued seminal reports from Mayor's Real Estate Investment Initiative Commission and Revenue Review Commission.
  • Formed Mayor's Commission on Unity, Diversity and Prosperity to address issues of poverty and income disparity, which threaten our community's stability and economic development potential.
  • Fought blight through acquisition of Wade Street slums, negotiations for Liberty District renewal, and visioning efforts for First Avenue/Bibb City and the MLK Boulevard streetscape.
  • Continued enhanced stability of community through Let's Talk with the Mayor Forums, through professional city staff and through reasonable community problem solving.

2011 Accomplishments

  • Reformed Muscogee County Prison increasing professionalism, safety and employee morale.
  • Reformed Parks and Recreation Department and set a course for a professional, award winning, best in region and state Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Reformed Civic Center and set a course for a professional, sophisticated and vibrant facility.
  • Put some $32 million of taxable property back on the tax rolls after years of delayed tax assessment decisions.
  • Reduced Copper Theft by 47%.
  • Created 1,600 jobs - the best performance in the state.
  • Unanimously revamped Columbus' Alcohol Ordinance to be more business friendly and create jobs.
  • Instituted Save a Pet program increasing Animal Care and Control pet adoptions by nearly 400% and leading to euthanasia rates well below state and national averages.
  • Opened Fall Line Trace adding 12 miles to our cycling and walking trails.
  • Cut the ribbon on the Ft. Benning Gateway interchange.
  • Began Whitewater construction to convert 2.2 miles of the Chattahoochee River to Class 3-5 rapids.
  • Began construction on City Service Center and a 900-spectator Swim Competition Center.
  • Unanimously revamped the City's previously controversial Public Safety Advisory Ordinance to allow a citizen panel to review complaints in coordination with existing Internal Affairs Divisions.
  • We have eliminated the crime ridden blight on Wade Street known as "The Hole" and have readied the property for future residential development.
  • We eliminated crime-ridden blighted apartments on Victory Drive adjacent to the new Arbor Pointe residential properties, and are pursuing two economic development prospects for that sight, one which would bring over 300 walk-to- work jobs to that area.
  • We structured a deal and garnered community consensus to redevelop the Booker T. Washington housing project into 100 new units on that site and have made available prime commercial real estate at the city's gateway intersection of Victory Drive and Veterans Parkway.
  • As part of the BTW revitalization effort, we partnered with the Housing Authority to develop state-of-the-art elder residential living units at the former site of Chapman Homes.
  • Upon threat of condemnation, we got the attention of property owners and tenants on Decatur Court resulting in a significant downturn in violent crime in that area.
  • We re-opened the boarded up and vandalized Boxwood Recreation Center down the street from Decatur Court to serve community kids and seniors and have seen a resurgence in community pride and participation in the area.
  • We shut down the crime haven of the Majestic Sports Bar at the North Lumpkin Road five-points.
  • We garnered unanimous support from Council to pass a new use of our Urban Service Districts to allow tax abatements (i.e., millage reductions) in blighted, underutilized properties predominately located in South Columbus.
  • With the assistance of the State Legislature, we were able to get approval to place Redevelopment Powers on the ballot in Muscogee County in the hopes of approving an investment tool that issues bonds for development in blighted areas, most of which lies in South Columbus.
  • Our Copper Theft task force cut copper thefts in Columbus by a sustained 47%, relieving the majority of the thefts that were occurring in South Columbus in vacant properties.
  • We continue to sustain the lowest crime levels in six years.
  • We have had 4 major job announcements in the recent past, one of which -- bringing back Hostess -- sits squarely on Victory Drive and added over 200 new jobs to this city.
  • We have seen the completion of a new hotel across from the Infantry Museum and the completion of the Ft. Benning Gateway at 1-85 and Victory Drive.
  • We are partnering with investors for major improvements and economic development along Custer Road for the Ft. Benning Tech Park.
  • We are ready to launch the South Lumpkin Streetscape construction project in the near future.
  • We also are in discussions for a new Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Streetscape project in the coming months.
  • You will see a new South Lumpkin Rails to Trails construction in the next three years, much like the Fall Line Trace that is overwhelmingly popular with families and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • We have a wonderful conceptual plan to finally alleviate the congestion at the Buena Vista Spider Web due to the train crossing and have funds available to begin the construction process in the next several years.
  • We are working on re-configuring our Metra Bus system in a way that meets today's needs by providing third-shift bus service and providing more useable routes.
  • You have seen enhanced efforts for Code Enforcement in areas of South Columbus, and have seen efforts to get the feral animal population under control.
  • We have established a Commission on Unity, Diversity and Prosperity, which looks at the issues of poverty prevalent in some areas of South Columbus.
  • We have received a Community Schools accreditation for Dimon Elementary and St. Mary’s Road Elementary after-school programs.

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