We’ve had a busy start to the year in the city of Ringgold. The item we’ve discussed on the council that excites me most is our beautification plans for downtown and building on what we’ve already accomplished on our main square along Nashville Street. A recently completed site plan for our entire downtown region has been delivered to the council, and we are currently in the process of contacting property owners to move that plan forward. The data gathering process that many of our citizens contributed to through online and public forums has come to fruition in a goal oriented long term plan that we are just now prioritizing. I look forward to sharing that vision as the city, along with our partners, begin to make it a reality.
Also, GEFA has awarded the City a $25,000 grant which should be close to 50% of the cost to install solar panels and converters at the city shop. I am very hopeful that this initial investment in solar panels will lead to more movement in that direction as we move forward. We will be closely analyzing these numbers to see how a more aggressive approach to solar energy might look. Our biggest consumer of energy at the city level is our water treatment plant and pump stations. Incorporating those sites into a long term plan could not only give the city more financial security in the future, but also more energy independence right now. My concern is the volatility and upward trajectory we have seen in energy prices.
In February, the council attended a work session in which we spent 3 days assessing our current position, planning the future, and working through personal differences on our board. I always enjoy getting into the numbers associated with our operations and examining fiscal trends. We have a great opportunity to keep our taxes low and maintain economic growth into the foreseeable future. I continue to have concerns about the personal relationships on the council, but we did have a constructive conversation about mayor/council/staff roles and keeping politics out of council meetings. Personally, it would be nice to not report on personal attacks, but that will take those things coming to an end. Coming out of our group discussion, I did have renewed hope that policy and procedural disagreements will not result in personal attacks moving forward.
We recently had a joint meeting between the local Catoosa County governments in which we decided to make a county wide economic development plan. The focus of this meeting was to narrow our goal set for future meetings and bring specific action items and information to the table for our next work session. We have made plans to continue these sessions quarterly. Everyone in the room seemed to appreciate how much we could potentially do with a united front, in a variety of areas, as opposed to working independently.