The city’s top accomplishments in 2012 included five new police cars and 24 new housing permits, which is 24 more than in 2011.
Revenue was up by about $850,000 more than expected, while expenses came in at $1 million less than in the $13.8 million budget the Powder Springs City Council adopted in June.
The city planned for about $307,000 in revenue from a new $3 monthly stormwater fee adopted to cope with rainwater running off hard surfaces into storm drains.
Vaughn said during her State of the City address at the city’s Ford Center that the fees pay for labor-intensive federal and state mandates.
“We are required to map the entire stormwater system. We are required to conduct annual inspections,” she told about 60 attendees. “It is definitely a full-time job for several people. By the time they finish, they have to start all over again.”
But the city’s water department came under fire during the question-and-answer period, when resident Aundree Kellam said she hadn’t been paid what the city owed her.
“There was a leak. We had it repaired. We filled out the form to get the credit,” she said.
Kellam said she was also irked at still being billed for a water line she disconnected in September.
“I’m off on Mondays. I’m more than willing to volunteer my time to straighten this out,” she said. “I want this department to function.”
City Manager Brad Hulsey responded that the city is behind in issuing leak credits.
“We have been for quite some time. I’ve made that a priority,” he said.
Leaky pipes and broken water mains led to a “modified” water rate structure, Vaughn said, which put businesses on the same sliding scale of water usage as residents.
“The city does have an aging infrastructure,” she said.
It causes headaches for residents and business owners, who become alarmed at seeing brown water come out of their taps.
“It’s caused by various factors,” said Public Works Director Greg Ramsey. “Sometimes it’s a water main break. We’ve been having a lot of those.”
The breaks underscored a breakdown in how the city alerts its utility customers.
“We run into a problem with communication all the time,” Ramsey said. “When we have an emergency, there’s several thousand customers impacted and we have no way to get the word out. What we do is try to fix it as quick as we can.”
The city’s six bridges also need attention, Vaughn said.
“GDOT and Croy Engineering evaluated area bridges and identified certain deficiencies, the most serious being the bridge on Powder Springs Road over the Silver Comet Trail,” she said.
Don Hix, the Croy Engineering project manager, said they’re taking precautions until the 60-year-old bridge can be replaced this summer.
“It’s weight-restricted,” he said.
Hulsey said after the meeting the bridge is “nearing the end of its useful life,” but is “not in imminent danger of falling.”
Other accomplishments for 2012, Vaughn said, included a renovated courthouse, stream cleanups and the near-completion of 2005 SPLOST projects.
Ahead for 2013 are a new theater at the Ford Center, more sidewalks and special events like the city’s 175th anniversary on Oct. 5.