Baskett said the city’s financial position was very positive and called the approach to budgeting “conservative.”
“Our primary responsibility is to be extremely diligent trustees with public funds,” he said. “Since 2007, we’ve added $2.5 million to our fund balance and slightly lowered our millage rate during the recession.”
He said the city always receives clean opinions from auditors and there were once again no findings in 2013. He highlighted what he said were the three most important aspects of building for the future — community, infrastructure and people.
“Partnerships are an integral part of building up our community,” Baskett said, mentioning Agnes Scott College, Oakhurst Garden, Woodlands, The History Center and Global Growers as major partners of the city.
He also spoke about the Decatur Business Association, City Schools of Decatur and the Decatur Housing Authority as supporting local business growth, and developing the community.
Baskett said hosting President Barack Obama at the newly-reopened recreation center and receiving the recognition of being named one of the top 10 great places in 2013 by the American Planning Association were proud moments for the city.
Improvements to infrastructure, he said, would help build for the future as well.
The city now has a new design, environment and construction division to run a one-stop permitting shop and will open a historically large building project in May.
“This year we will open the Beacon Municipal Complex, the largest building project the city has ever undertaken, which is a joint project with our city schools,” Baskett said.
The city schools’ administrative offices will move in with the active living, police and municipal court departments in the large complex, a 10-year infrastructure investment Baskett said “will last for the next 50 years.”
City employees, such as newly-hired Public Information Officer Casie Yoder, design, environment and construction department director John Maximuk and new visitor’s center manager Sherri Jackson were also congratulated.
“From hourly workers to top management, your organizations are only as good as your people and I couldn’t be more proud of our people,” Baskett said.
He closed his speech by addressing the topic of annexation.
“You’re hearing a lot about annexation and much of that is the result of attempts to form new cities in DeKalb County,” he said. “We cannot afford to allow others to decide the shape and future of Decatur because if we are encircled by other cities, there won’t be any possibilities for change down the road.”
He said the reason the city would want to annex any larger areas would be to increase the proportion of commercial property versus residential property as a percentage of the city’s digest.
Plans to move forward with a unified development ordinance and property redevelopment will continue in the coming months.