Avery said assembling a talented team helped meet the municipality’s challenges and will continue to do so.
“I learned from my military experience you can’t expect what you don’t inspect. Meaning, I came in and I looked at the various departments,” the U.S. Army veteran said. “I lobbied council to bring in men and women that can not only fulfill the vision of what I believe we can accomplish here in the next four to eight years, but what I believe is personnel other municipalities would basically beg to have.”
The crime rate fell from the highest in the county to one of the lowest, he said, after police hiring procedures became more stringent.
“The reputation used to be, if you can’t get hired anywhere else, go to Fairburn,” Avery said. “The reputation now is second to none.”
Since Avery took office in 2010, he said, the city’s credit score increased three times under Finance Director David Smith and City Manager Tom Barber, both certified public accountants.
City coffers became enriched by another $350,000 annually through the local option sales tax, during which negotiations Fairburn played a lead role in helping other Fulton County cities receive their due.
“We’re not only looking out for ourselves, we’re looking out for our own,” Avery said.
The city improved from a $320,000 deficit to $1.1 million in savings during Avery’s first term, he said.
“We removed the financial vulnerability,” Avery said. “Our city is solvent.”
Other highlights included economic development efforts that brought in 13 new businesses and 475 jobs, but Avery said they’re not done recruiting.
“Our goal is to become the city government that is easy to deal with,” he said. “Customer service is a lost art but that’s something we’re working on. We want to be the customer-friendly government.”
The clock is ticking on using that friendliness to find at least three major corporations to consume one of Fairburn’s major assets, electricity.
In Waynesboro, the electricity-generating nuclear facility Plant Vogtle – partly owned by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, of which Fairburn is a member – will start up two new units in four years.
According to the website of Southern Co., parent of plant co-owner Georgia Power, it will then generate “enough power to drive 13 of the world’s largest aircraft carriers at top speed.”
Avery said the output is a double-edged sword.
“The city of Fairburn will in 2018 have 3.2 megawatts of power. That’s a lot of power that we have to sell,” he said. “Either we sell it or we buy it.”
Newly elected City Councilwoman Hattie Portis-Jones said she agreed with Avery’s praise of students from Landmark and Creekside High School, both of which received proclamations.
“I truly believe in supporting, encouraging and uplifting our youth. That is one of the issues I ran on,” she said.