Nelson Moves in the Right Direction
Leadership changed hands last January in the small city of Nelson Ga, which splits Pickens and Cherokee counties. Jonathan Bishop, Duane Cronic, Jackie Jarrett, and Martha Tipton won seats on the Nelson City Council; Martha Tipton being the only incumbent. A few months later, Edith Portillo joined the others to make up a new City Council in Nelson. Not only did the City Council consist of new people, but these new people had new innovative ideas to help stream-line the government of Nelson.
The first major problem this new City Council confronted was the annual budget deficit that had plagued the city for years. Over the previous eight years prior to this Council, the City of Nelson had spent, on average $50,000 more than it took in per year. The New Council immediately attacked the Annual Budget, by cutting unneeded spending, while continuing to provide the citizens of Nelson the services they were used to. In August of 2012, the City's reserve fund was completely empty. Within four months under the new budget, the City of Nelson has accumulated over $30,000 in reserve funds. By April of 2013, the city of Nelson has met its annual revenue needs for the fiscal year. Revenue was met in the first 10 months of the budget year, which has allowed Nelson to surplus all revenue from the months of May and June. An estimated $30,000 was collected over the next two months to add to the reserve funds that had already seen $30,000 placed in it five months ago. It should be mentioned that the Council accomplished these financial goals while also lowering property taxes within the city, and the plan is to lower taxes again this year. At the end of the fiscal year, the City of Nelson had accumulated over $100,000 in reserves. This has been an accomplishment unheard of in years past.
That was just the beginning of the good things the people of Nelson would see from this new Council. They also surplused out-dated, un-used equipment to make way for new, up-to-date equipment like the tool-cat that was purchased out of SPLOST Funds. The tool-cat has many uses in the City as a fork-lift, a front end loader, a street sweeper, a salt spreader, and a dump truck. Basically, this is an all-in-one piece of equipment for the city that replaces the older one-purpose tools of the past.
The City also used SPLOST funds to purchase a new police vehicle for the department, as well as donating the city-owned Hummer to the Jasper police department, thus saving the City money in insurance.
Nelson is home to two city parks where children have an opportunity to play, and families can cone to spend quality time together. The Council decided that one of the parks should be renovated over the previous winter so the citizens could have a park they would be proud of, and enjoy. The City of Nelson has also entered into a contract with Cherokee County to build a brand new park with playground equipment, restroom facilities, as well as a parking lot for its citizens. This new park will be complete by 2014.
The City Council also appointed a City Manager to deal with the day-to-day operations of the City. Much of the accolades from Nelson has come after the appointment of the City Manager, as the Council now has a qualified person in place to help guide them in the areas of need.
Nelson has also seen its share of publicity over the past year as it became the second city in the state of Georgia to pass an ordinance requiring all house-holds to maintain firearms for the emergency protection of its citizens. The “Family Protection Ordinance” was put into law in April of 2013 with an overwhelming majority of citizens in favor of the measure. Kennesaw was the first city in Georgia to enact the law in to 1980's. The law gives several exemptions to people that do not want firearms, but the general idea of this being a deterrence to crime swayed the Council to approve the measure as a low-cost way to keep the crime rate low within the city limits of Nelson.
Nelson is not a booming city in Northwest Georgia, but in many ways it has become a leader in innovative ways of doing things. A city with surplus revenue, new equipment, lower taxes, and low crime. Hopefully more cities will take a look at what has happened in the “bedroom community” of Nelson, and follow in their footsteps.