Valley reporting strong financials

Published 1:00 am Saturday, February 23, 2019

VALLEY — In a Thursday evening work session, members of the Valley City Council heard a glowing report on a continuing increase in local sales taxes. They were up by more than $200,000 in the last fiscal year and through the first four months of the FY 2019, they are up close to $150,000 from last year.

“We could hit $7 million this year,” said Mayor Leonard Riley. “We want to thank our local citizens for supporting our businesses, and we want them to know that this money will be going into infrastructure. We’ll be paving roads and making improvements in the industrial park.”

City Clerk/Treasurer Cathy Snowden reported on the sales tax trend. She also said that business licenses have thus far brought in more than a million dollars. It’s slightly less than what was budgeted but should surpass that in the coming weeks.

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Riley said the Highway 29 business corridor off I-85 was doing exceptionally well. “Burger King and McDonald’s are doing extremely well,” he said. “Both are with companies that have around 25 restaurants and both are at the top or near the top in terms of sales for both companies. Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell have new buildings. McDonald’s is less than 10 years old, we have a new Dunkin’ Donuts and a newly-opened Popeye’s. Kentucky Fried Chicken is being renovated, and we’re getting a new Jack’s across the street. We have a new Dairy Queen and a Wings place. Valley Marketplace is doing well with Anytime Fitness and a new Ace Hardware Store. The Chambers Square Shopping Center has a new owner planning to make $500,000 in improvements there.”

The Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce recently located in an extensively renovated building behind McDonald’s.

“All this is great for our community and our city,” Riley said. “We want to thank our citizens for doing a great job in supporting our businesses.”

In other good news for the city’s financial well being, interest income is up approximately $6,500 a month and membership is up at Valley Community Center.

“We have a lot of different classes going on out there right now,” Riley said. “It’s busy in the mornings and at night.”

“When I want to exercise,” joked Council Member Jimmy Gilson, “I go out there and watch till until I get tired.”

Council members talked about some major improvements planned this year at the Community Center.

A total of $325,000 is in this year’s budget for a PoolPak. It will likely cost around $240,000 but will also have some installation costs. The pool will be closed from March 15 through May 10 for the work to be done. Some new tiles will be put in and some work done around the drains and a pool ladder.

“It’s going to be like new,” said Riley said. “It will look good like the new gym floor.”

“We are excited about this,” said Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount. “It’s a much- needed project.”

The city could save as much as $100,000 by having city employees install the PoolPak.

The city has thus far spent some $68,000 of a $277,000 grant for improvements on the CV Railway Trail. Some of that is in-kind money involved in making some needed repairs before the seven-mile walking trail is resurfaced. That will be taking place later this year. The bids for the paving work will come in in March.

Mayor Riley told the council that the city should bring in around $200,000 from timber sales off the recently purchased Burney property between Fob James Drive and 55th Street. He added that the playing fields at Valley Sportsplex are looking good heading into the 2019 season.

“The fields are starting to mature and thicken up,” he said.

The council heard requests for funding from Circle of Care Director Jonathan Herston and from East Alabama Food Bank Director Martha Henk and Board President Paul Grisham.

The Circle of Care has plans of relocating from its present location to a former doctor’s office in Valley Medical Park. Herston said the building needs some $383,000 in improvements before the Circle can relocate there. Much of this can come from grants and a portion from a One to One Hundred campaign. The campaign asks people to commit to giving anywhere from one dollar to $100 per year for an extended period of time. This technique has proven to be an effective fundraiser when it has been attempted by other organizations.

“It will have a perpetual impact,” Herston said. “Making a small investment can have a big impact for generations to come.”

Being in a larger facility, Herston said, will allow the Circle of Care to have more programs for the community.

“The needs are there for those programs,” he said.

Mayor Riley commended Herston and his staff for doing good work on behalf of the community.

“That building needs to be utilized,” he said of the Circle’s potential new home. “Somebody needs to be in it.”

The East Alabama Food Bank is looking for a new location in Auburn. The Food Bank presently serves a seven-county region, which includes Chambers County. A total of 19 entities including churches, the Circle of Care, the Christian Service Center, Valley Haven School, the Bread Basket Club, the Salvation Army and A Vision to Feed are clients of the Food Bank. , An average of more than 4,000 people per month is are served in Chambers County.

“Research shows that Chambers County has a food insecurity rate of 19.5 percent,” Heck said. “That equates to 6,620 people who struggle to feed their families. This includes 1,790 food-insecure children.”

Heck said the present Food Bank is cramped for space.

“We have to turn away two truckloads of food every week because of this,” she said.

There’s a chance now to move from the present 20,000-square-foot building to one that’s 40,000 square feet in size. There’s some rehab needs for the new building. Moving it should cost around $765,000, The cities of Auburn, Opelika and Tuskegee have pledged support along with county commissions in Lee and Tallapoosa counties.

Mayor Riley said he’d recommend giving $10,000.

“They are helping feed our hungry, and that makes a difference,” he said.