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A New Day — By Tommy Purser

Tuesday was a happy day at the Hazlehurst City Courtroom. There were lots of smiles, tons of good cheer, positive vibes, amidst a crowd of well-wishers for our new Mayor John Ramay and two new members of the City Council.
Family, friends, loved ones and people just interested in the future of our city, and looking forward to a new direction in which our city can move, a renewed optimism in our future …. a fresh start.
Unfortunately for Mayor Ramay, and new City Commissioners Christopher Jones and Landon Chavis, and the lone returning council member Dywane Johnson, the “fresh start” will not be so fresh.
The “new” Mayor and Council are faced with an enormous hill to climb. Make that a mountain to climb.
The city is head over heels in debt.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in reserves have disappeared.
I had a number of people who asked me over the last year to run for Mayor in the 2023 elections. But, at 76 years old, I no longer have the energy to make the hard decisions that our new — and younger — Mayor and Council will have to make to bring our city back to solvency.
I have enough on my plate just trying to keep this newspaper afloat amidst the threats of an Internet that has devastated this newspaper, and the businesses in town that would prefer to advertise their offerings on the Internet for free rather than partnering with the local newspaper that has served this community for well over 100 years. I’ve been fighting that trend and I’m losing —– badly.
But, back to our Mayor and Council. Please, please be patient with them. They have some tough choices to make, some huge challenges to face.
Having served eight years on the city council myself, eight years of learning so much about government financing and what it takes to efficiently run a city, I can see no way forward without a property tax increase in the future.
No one likes tax increases. But please understand, the city has got to increase revenues to pay off, for instance, a million dollar Georgia State Patrol Station that was financed through borrowed money with no plan to create revenue to pay back that loan.
The city desperately needs to rebuild the once healthy reserves in the water and sewer system, reserves that stood as a buffer should an unexpected major expenditure become necessary.
The police department is critically understaffed because of, in my opinion, a lack of concern from our past mayor and council for the safety of our citizens.
I could go on and on and on about the challenges facing our Mayor and Council in the future.
I have few answers. I wish I had more.
But I do have a plea: be patient. Be patient with Mayor John Ramay and his council members. There is much work to be done. Offer prayers for them all.

2 Comments

  1. Andrea Lynn White Brooks on February 14, 2024 at 5:37 pm

    Just out of curiosity… What relation is Landon Chavis to Jeffrey Chavis? SMH! Higher taxes is the answer and maybe we can open a “petty cash” account for the sticky fingers?

    • Editor on February 27, 2024 at 7:52 pm

      Landon is Jeffrey’s oldest son.

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