March 5, 2014 11:36:52 AM
VERNON, Ala. -- Vernon Mayor Glenn Crawford can now collect a paycheck from the city.
The first-term mayor and longtime businessman made a campaign promise to residents: he won't accept a salary until the city adds 50 new jobs or posts a 20 percent increase in revenues under his leadership and that of the current council.
Monday, Vernon's fiscal audit of the 2012-13 fiscal year revealed significant spikes in sales tax revenues and the city's general fund balance.
Mac Mayers, of Mayers and Company, presented the city's audit and said the figures, which include a $131,240 bump in sales tax revenue ad a $115,000 increase in the city's general fund, are the best the city has posted in the last four years.
"Pump your fist one time," Crawford said in reaction to councilman Winn Prescott's excitement of the audit.
Crawford said the council's quarterly meetings with business owners helped generate enthusiasm about the city's potential for economic growth.
Crawford said Marathon recently added 30-40 new jobs, while Mid States Petroleum bought six new locations and added more than 17 jobs.
"Then our sales tax rises, and [business owners] get happier when that happens," Crawford said. "When you see a 5-12 percent increase, they are part of that good news and they talk positively of the city. People are shopping here now.
"And then people see the money put to work, new projects happening and streets being cleaned, the new businesses we've had open, about eight or nine for the last 17 months," Crawford added.
The next challenge, Crawford said, will be finding another tenant for the city's industrial park, which has welcomed K and S Lumber Company and its estimated 20 jobs that will be added over the next year. Crawford said positions at the new sawmill will pay up to $14 an hour.
"We'll also benefit when our new site is ready," Crawford said. "We'll put a list -- with pictures -- of all the empty buildings and start promoting that. We're going to make it known that we do tax abatements and will pursue grant money if business owners are bringing jobs to our city."
In other news, the city voted unanimously to pursue a Community Development Block Grant to help fund the infrastructure upgrades to the the industrial park. Kevin Kessler of Community Consultants to file the grant application with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Kessler said that, at worst, the city could expect to be awarded $80,000. However, he expects the city to receive closer to $100,000, leaving the city $28,000 to match the total project costs.
Monies will be used for road, sewer, water and fire hydrants and installation, Crawford said.
"This will make our park that much more attractive going forward."
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