Vines talks goals for new year
Published 10:30 am Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Kenneth Vines, Mayor of LaFayette, has big plans for 2024. The new year will start the clock on Vine’s last year in office, unless he is reelected later this year.
Vines said his primary focus in the upcoming year will be the development of housing in LaFayette, a promise he made to voters when first elected in 2020.
“I know my time is winding down. I think I’ve accomplished all my goals dealing with healthcare, dealing with getting new businesses in. The main thing that I haven’t done that I’m gonna work extremely hard on for 2024 is housing,” Vines said. “If we got to expand jurisdiction, to buy more property, to extend the city limits sign then that’s what we have to do,” Vines said.
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At a council meeting earlier this month, the mayor and council heard from Ben Wieseman about creating a new strategic plan for the city’s future. Wieseman is a real estate developer and has contracted with cities around the state to achieve development goals. Vines said they are looking at his plan as well as other developers to bring more housing to LaFayette.
“I’m still getting approached on a daily basis about housing and I can see a lot of people want to come back to the LaFayette, but we got to give them somewhere to stay,” Vines said. “[Housing] is one of my pet peeves … Whether I [get a] next term or not, but at least I’m gonna have the ball rolling,” Vines said.
In regards to business, Vines was pleased with the strides they made this year. New businesses came to the city, and he praised LaFayette Main Street for its part in encouraging the growth of downtown. He also hopes to strengthen the city’s recreation department.
Vines said that the new city hall off of the square is coming along.
“Our new city hall that I’ve been preaching about almost two years, hopefully, we’ll be in that building around April or May,” he laughed.
He was happy with the funding the city received in 2023 from the American Rescue Fund and Equitable Neighborhood Initiative. The city did have to raise the water and sewage fees, and Vines said they may have to do the same with water.
“We just received a letter that [water cost] is going up. So when they go up, we have to bite the cost … We have to turn around and go up on our citizens which I hate to do, but in order to balance the budget we have to do something,” Vines explained.
Vines hinted at a large project being announced in 2024.
“I can’t say right now because there’s something that is in the works with the development authority … but we will hopefully we will have a big announcement 24’. Hopefully, we’ll hear something in the next couple of months,” Vines said.
Vines stated that the desire for a big project stems from a major loss the city experienced this year, the looming closure of LaFayette High School, and the moving to the new consolidated school in Valley.
“The biggest disappointment is that we didn’t get to school. Since we didn’t get to school, I guess I would say to kind of take the place of the school we’re looking for a major project,” Vines said. “Lanett has the airport, Valley has the school now, so 24’ we’re looking for some kind of big in the city.”
“23’ was a good year, I can’t complain. I owe it all to the citizens. They’re very patient. They’re very understanding … [They are] coming on board and want to join in to help better the city. 24’ is looking the same,” Vines said.