A look to the New Year
City looks to build on success in '09 despite economic challenges
January 6, 2009
The following is a reprint of an interview by the Johns Creek Herald with Mayor Mike Bodker in which he discusses the City's priorities as well as the challenges that lie ahead.
What can Johns Creek residents look forward to in 2009?
We will work to continue building on the many successes we've achieved so far. Our Strategic Plan defines five overarching goals for the next five years:
- Improve our transportation system;
- Provide excellent services in an efficient, cost-effective manner;
- Expand business opportunities and local economy;
- Build our community and pride; and
- Develop leisure, recreation and arts opportunities.
So those are the areas we will be concentrating our efforts. However, as we are all quite aware, we are in a recession that will have far-ranging impacts on how quickly and extensively we can act on those goals. In addition, this year's Georgia General Assembly will take up several proposals that may further restrict our financial position. So, while we are generally optimistic about the City's direction, we will have to proceed cautiously in the year ahead.
Are there any specific projects that the city has planned for 2009?
Our budget for Fiscal Year 2009 includes almost $2.5 million worth of Capital Improvement projects. About a third of that is slated for road resurfacing and other transportation enhancements. Some of the other highlights include phase one of the Johns Creek Greenway - fulfilling the promise Council and I made last year - continuing to add sidewalks throughout the city, creating a watershed improvement plan, water quality monitoring program, and creation of a Parks Master Plan.
Many Johns Creek businesses have closed their doors in 2008. The city has mentioned the "Choose to Use Johns Creek" campaign - will that be pushed more in 2009?
One component to this campaign focuses on encouraging our residents to "Choose to Use Johns Creek" businesses for all their dining, shopping and services needs. City Hall is quite aware of the number of businesses that have closed their doors. And the shame of it is that probably hundreds if not thousands of people drove right past those businesses to a similar location outside the city offering exactly what the closed business provided.
A second component of "Choose to Use" is encouraging our residents and businesses to proclaim Johns Creek proudly as their hometown. While we continue conversations with the United States Postal Services regarding the possibility of a unified ZIP code and/or a Post Office facility for Johns Creek, USPS does recognize Johns Creek, GA in association with the three primary ZIP codes in our city (30005, 30022 and 30097). We encourage those who live or own businesses in those ZIP codes to not only use Johns Creek as their mailing address but also proactively ask that their credit card companies, magazine subscriptions and so forth change their mailing address accordingly. Go to the Georgia Department of Driver Services and ask them to change the address on your license to read Johns Creek. Use Johns Creek on your business signage, business cards, menus, and all your business materials.
Both components will ultimately support out local businesses and in turn support our quality of life here in Johns Creek. If we are proud of our hometown we will choose to use Johns Creek prominently and it will make it easier for our citizens to drive directly to a Johns Creek business next time.
The police and fire departments started-up in 2008 and the Comprehensive Plan were approved this year - all three are very big accomplishments. What is the city looking to accomplish in 2009?
Those are all major, significant accomplishments that carry a high level of visibility.
One project that will be very high visibility for 2009 is the expected launch of our joint 911 dispatch center with Sandy Springs in the late summer. This will have a dramatic impact on emergency response in Johns Creek and undoubtedly save lives.
Ongoing, we will continue to achieve significant accomplishments that will have a major impact on the quality of life in our community, but may not have the same sort of media appeal. These include creating master plans for our parks, for solid waste that will in part strive to reduce the waste stream, and for stormwater management that will help preserve the water quality in Johns Creek.
We will continue to focus on resuscitating and enhancing our long-neglected roadway system and begin planning for a bond referendum proposal, which will be the only way we can make substantial improvements.
And we will continue to do everything possible to bring government closer to the people we govern, to live up to the incorporation promises of responsiveness, transparency and fiscal responsibility.
Any other comments about the year ahead?
In 2008, we conducted our first citizen satisfaction survey, something we intend to do on a regular basis. The outstanding results, in which almost three-quarters of the respondents said they are pleased with the direction of the city, surprised even the most optimistic of us. We are rightly proud of those results; they are a testament to the day-to-day work of our dedicated, professional staff.
But we have set the bar high, which means we will have to work hard to maintain that level of satisfaction and even harder to increase it. It will not be easy, particularly given the current economic climate. However, I am fully confident that Council and I, working with our professional and dedicated staff as well as our citizens and businesses, are up to it.
Despite the many ongoing challenges we will face, I firmly believe we have incredible potential here in Johns Creek. Our city will continue on course in being one of the best places not only to do business but to live, work, play and educate your family in the State of Georgia.