Many of us have heard the rumblings of discontent with the city manager – the position and the man, Ron Nalley. I didn’t know what to think, so I went to him and asked “What have you done?” Here’s what I learned.
Since Mr. Nalley began last year, he has managed to “stop the bleeding” financially. He has balanced the budget and strengthened our solvency relative to borrowing and grant eligibility. Due to his having established better internal controls with payroll, accounts receivable, weekly disbursements of accounts payable, contract accountability and creating new financial reporting documents for commissioners and the public, his five-year capital improvement plan is well underway. The increased water and sewer rates now support operations and debt service. This September, through additional payments, the city will have reduced the amount of our debt default to under $700,000. Mr. Nalley has trimmed monthly expenditures in water and sewer by almost 40 percent since last July. Personnel and benefits have been trimmed by approximately $230,000, or just over 12 percent. Today, all sinking and reserve fund payments are current and have been transferred to the appropriate funds for disbursement in Sept. 2019.
When Hurricane Michael hit us, all essential services (roads, water, sewer and electric) were operational within five to eight days. There is still much to be done because full recovery is a long, laborious process. Mr. Nalley is working on a FEMA preparedness plan to increase our resiliency.
Our city manager has worked with the water and sewer department to lower the TTHMs in our drinking water. Routine maintenance, flushing and exercising valves in order to eliminate dead ends is happening. We are installing automatic flushers at the ends of water lines. A “mixer and stripper” was installed in the ground storage tanks at the water plant. Quarterly testing reveals that we are now headed in the right direction.
Additionally, the city has applied for and received a USDA Water and Wastewater Grant/Loan to install a granulated active carbon water filtration system which will resolve the TTHM noncompliance issue.
Mr. Nalley has my thanks and appreciation for immediately rolling up his sleeves in a concerted effort to dig us out of the operational and financial crisis he inherited.