Daily Reports




Temple Mayor Michael Johnson delivers ‘State of the City’ Address on Monday, March 6.

The City of Temple was a place where many things happened in calendar 2022.  And in my State of the City report which I’ll make during this meeting to the members of the City Council and to the residents and business owners in Temple concerning key events and milestones in 2022, I also will be identifying calendar 2022 as a time of preparation.  In many ways, 2022 was a starting point rather than the finish line, a time of planning for advancements in our community that I expect to have their fulfillment during calendar 2023.

In many ways, this past year was the journey.  Now, in 2023, I expect to see the fruit of our labor. 

            However, I certainly don’t think the latter part of this current calendar year will be a season of rest after we have achieved a number of goals the City of Temple had started pursuing during my first term as Mayor.  And that’s because we still have work to do.  We still have unmet goals.  We continue to have high hopes for the future.  There is no shortage of “unfinished business” challenges in our community:  problems with our existing railroad crossings, a wide variety of growth-related issues, the expansion and upgrade of our water system and our sewer system, downtown redevelopment, and improving our streets and intersections. 

            But this is a time of reflection, an occasion for us to look back on 2022 in order to identify the challenges, the achievements, and the milestones for the City of Temple during this recent chapter of our community’s history.  Therefore, join me in recalling some of the key happenings during the past calendar year that enables us to stop at this time and reflect on the current “State of the City” in Temple.       

            THE STATE OF OUR WATER SYSTEM.  For a number of years the City of Temple has contracted with the Carroll County Water Authority for water.  We enjoy a very good working relationship with the County Water Authority, and certainly appreciate their good services and cooperative spirit.  The CCWA has done a very good job in keeping up with the growing water supply needs in our part of Carroll County, and 2022 saw the completion of expanded water tank storage facilities in Temple.  With Matt Windon as its executive director and with a Board which incudes City Councilmember Howard Walden, storage and delivery facilities have been expanded from time to time to meet our water availability requirements.  Healthy growth in a community requires a reliable source of water and a dependable delivery of it, and CCWA’s current five-year program for a reasonable annual increase in the wholesale price for water has enabled Temple to plan for this added cost within our budget framework.

            Meanwhile the City of Temple was busy completing a multi-year plan to upgrade our water distribution system by replacing an assortment of aging water meters and some older water mains.  In 2022 these efforts culminated in the City of Temple’s application to the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) being approved for a very low interest 20-year loan of $1,404,000 to replace our old system of water meters which had to be read manually by one of our Public Works Department staff members walking the route, removing each lid, cleaning debris off the meter face in order to see and record the current usage numbers, replacing the lid, and then going to the next house and repeating the same process. 

            The engineering firm of Keck & Wood did a good job of preparing our application and working with GEFA in the low-interest loan approval process and with this local government in the bid solicitation and vendor/contractor approval process.  Currently, installation of our new water meter system is underway.  The contractor is RTS Water Solutions, LLC.  The Neptune brand of water meter now being installed citywide is read remotely.  Basically, it is a totally different arrangement; and Temple’s water meter reading is far quicker and more reliable. 

            This project still is underway, with approximately 750 replacement meters having been installed.  Since the City has approximately 2,300 water meters, this means that early in March one-third of our new water meters are in operation.  We expect the last new replacement water meter will be installed sometime this spring.  Certainly, it is a new day in Temple for meter reading and water billing.

            In concluding this part of my report, let me express the City’s thanks to the consultants, the meter manufacturers, and the engineering firms who submitted proposals to the City of Temple, as well as those who are implementing this project.  Also, on behalf of the City of Temple I want to thank the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) for approving this project and making the loan to the City of Temple with the extremely low annual interest rate of zero-point-13 percent, which enables us to repay this loan over a period of 20 years at a very low annual payment.

            The City of Temple’s major project to replace its water meters was not the only important water project in which planning and preparation work was completed in 2022, with implementation work to start in 2023.

In October 2022 the Mayor and Council received from the City’s consulting engineering firm Turnipseed Engineers a preliminary report for “Water System Improvements” in Temple.  Six priority projects were identified, with a projected implementation cost of some $4.5 million.  Following discussion, it was decided that the City’s top priority water system improvement project is the following:  “Install 5,000 linear feet of 10-inch water line on Sage Street from College Street to the Temple High School.”  The projected cost is $725,000.

I am pleased to report that on February 6 of this new year, the City Council voted to advertise for sealed bids on this project.  Funding is from a combination of 2021 SPLOST funds approved by Carroll County voters and from ARPA (American Resue Plan Act) funds from the Federal government.  Thus, the groundwork by the City of Temple government and local voters enabled us to move forward with this project.  I hope construction can start this spring.

            Thus, the groundwork laid in 2022 by the City of Temple gives us a priority blueprint for making improvements to our water system over the next few years, as we deal with the need for new and larger water lines to serve Temple’s current and future residents, businesses, industries, and other facilities. 

            THE STATE OF OUR SEWER SYSTEM.  The City of Temple is fortunate to have a Sewer Treatment Plant which currently has excess capacity.  From the standpoints of being able safely and thoroughly to deal with the volume of sewage entering our treatment plant and then to discharge this waste properly, our local government has a facility and operation that can get the job done for some years to come.  Not unexpectedly, the City has had to replace and upgrade some equipment and processes.  Major work on this started in 2022 after a lengthy and thorough planning process, and this includes improvements in our spray fields as well as with the settling ponds, scrubbers, grit removal equipment, etc. 

            We are aware that sometimes the neighboring communities must deal with unpleasant odors; and while I think the City of Temple has dealt effectively with this situation, our goal is to become an even better neighbor.  The campus of our Sewer Treatment Plant has frontage on Bar J Road and Villa Rosa Road.  Oak Shade Road once ran through the middle of this site; however, that part of Oak Shade Road was closed to the public in 2022, although the entry into this City land continues to be that section of Old Shade Road that connects to Bar J Road.   —   Now, to conclude my brief report on our sewer system operations, let me point out that we put a very high priority on making sure the discharges from the plant have been properly treated before entering local waterways, and this process is monitored closely by the Geosciences Department at the University of West Georgia.      

            Currently, the biggest challenges we have with our Sewer System is how to effectively and efficiently transport liquid and solid waste to the Sewer Treatment Plant from homes, businesses, schools, industries, etc., from throughout the City of Temple, especially considering the rolling terrain of our community.  Gravity flow of solid waste sometimes has its problems, but I am sure this is easier to deal with than sewer lift stations.  We have 13 lift stations in Temple, because the natural downhill flow of sewage stops when the route to the treatment plant necessarily includes hills as well as valleys. 

            For a moment, just think of all the hills between the Old Bremen Road area, the Center Point Road area, Temple’s downtown area, etc., and the site of our Sewer Treatment Plant near the intersection of Villa Rosa Road and Bar J Road.  

            By way of comparison, let me point out that while the previously mentioned “Water System Improvements” report from Turnipseed Engineers identified six priority projects with a total estimated cost of $4.5 million, in November 2022 the same engineering firm presented to me and the City Council a report on needed “Sewer System Improvements”.  This report identified six priority projects, with a total estimated cost of $13 million.  And the top priority project for improving our sewer system is the upgrade of the Villa Rosa Pump Station, with a price tag of $1.2 million. 

  And now, the City Council and I are following the same timeline with our first sewer system improvement as we are with our first water system improvement; namely, on February 6 the City Council voted to advertise for sealed bids for this major project.  2021 SPLOST funds and Water Sewer Fund revenues will be used to pay for this project. 

This is another example of the groundwork laid by our planning and preparations in the past now is beginning to move into the implementation stage.  And while the City does not yet have a projected date for the next sewer system improvement projects, I can report that the other two top priority projects are the Billings Force Main and the Williams Creek Interceptor. 

THE STATE OF OUR STREET SYSTEM.  As we know, with the construction of more houses and more commercial and industrial growth, more traffic is a natural by-product.  Obviously, we see this in Temple.  Because of the continuous needs to repair, upgrade, expand our street system, the 2021 SPLOST included $1,375,000 for street and sidewalk projects over the five-year life of this Carroll County special local sales tax program.  And we used some of these funds in 2022 for street repairs, resurfacing, drainage-related work, and sidewalk repairs.  The City sought to deal with its major road issues, whether on local thoroughfares or in residential communities.  Some of our 2022 work was to prepare for 2023 projects, including repairing information and awarding a bid late in the year for a major project now moving into the planning and engineering with major intersections in Temple, including the Center Point Road – Billings Road – Venable Road connecting points.

Late in 2022 the City received the go-head with a multi-year project primarily to be funded with Federal and State funds; namely, a sidewalk construction project that eventually will link the Temple Middle School and Providence Elementary School campuses with the City Park on Rome Street and then continue into our downtown business district.

No change occurred in 2022 with the situation between the City of Temple and the Norfolk Southern railroad.  Parked trains, as we know, interferes from time to with the flow of vehicles trying to cross the tracks.  In particular, the dangerous crossing at the north end of Sage Street was a safety problem for the City and for Norfolk Southern.  Late in the year and on into 2023, there was an increase in the frequency of large tractor trailer trucks getting stuck on the track at Sage Street.  While I certainly can’t predict the short-term outcome of this situation, it is appropriate to include “the railroad situation” as one of areas in which preliminary and preparatory work in 2022 is leading to potential positive projects in 2023.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS ON THE CITY’S PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT.  The City of Temple’s Public Works Department is that part of our local government which is most involved in and responsible for the local delivery of the services about which I have been reporting in this State of the City address.

As I conclude this part of my annual report, I want to comment on two topics.  First, let me report on garbage collection and disposal.  In 2022 weekly collections were made by GFL Environmental, in the second year of a three-year agreement that started on July 1, 2021.  Overall, I believe this private company provided better and more consistent services to our residential neighborhoods and businesses than we had had previously. 

Due to COVID and other economic impacts in our community and elsewhere in Georgia and even on a global basis, costs increased for various goods and services and vacancies increased in various lines of work.  GFL in 2022 received a very limited revenue increase; therefore, it was not that surprising when the fiscal impacts from 2022 resulted a few days ago in GFL notifying the City of Temple that it was opting out of the third year of its agreement, effective June 30. 

The City’s idea in 2022 possibly to start its own Sanitation Services operation was aborted early in 2023 when City Public Works Director Hal Burch resigned from his position in order to accept a similar position in a nearby larger municipal government.  He did a very good job for the City, and will be missed. 

The long-term expansion of the City’s Public Work compound at the end of Matthews Street took a couple of steps forward in 2022 with demolition of the former residential structure on the site.  I expect additional steps to be taken in 2023 in order to improve the Public Works Department’s storage and operational facilities.

Let me now turn to the other major part of my report.

EXPANSION OF THE TEMPLE CITY HALL.  I think all of us had expected that sometime during the second half of 2022, the City Hall expansion project would be completed.  Then, the City Council would have its new meeting space, which also would be the location for Municipal Court and various other meetings.  However, that did not happen due to several different construction-related problems.  Thus, our planned opening of this new facility will come sometime in 2023; and in the meanwhile, City Council meetings continue to be held in the Senior Center and Municipal Court continues to meet in the City Recreation Department’s gymnasium. 

THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT AND THE SENIOR CENTER.  Bordered on the north by Rainey Road, on the east by Rome Street, on the south by Milner Street, and on the west by Johnson Street is the second largest tract of land on which the City of Temple government is located.  (The largest tract, by the way, is the Sewer Treatment Plant property which I mentioned earlier in my report.) 

Our Senior Center, under the direction of Sandra Stillwell, provides wonderful opportunities for fellowship, food, and fun for a special group of people.  They enjoy a nourishing lunch Monday through Friday, with home-delivered meals out-numbering those served in our Center’s large room that serves as a meeting space, a game room, a community-event facility (including Temple’s election polling place and such happenings as worship services and square dancing), and for the past few years as the site for City Council meetings.

Renovation work, kitchen and storage space improvements, refurbished restrooms, and general upgrades to the building’s interior and exterior started some three years ago.  Basically, these changes were completed in 2022, although a few other building projects remain on the drawing board.

Senior citizens enjoy not only events on-site, but make day trips to enjoy shopping, scenery, food, and entertainment.  Each year, some of these seniors take a group trip elsewhere in the States or overseas. 

Adjacent to the Senior Center is the city’s gymnasium, which includes several activity rooms as well as the City Recreation Department’s offices.  Director Ingrid McKinley plans and guides a program for all ages with various levels of energy, interest, and competitiveness.  In addition to the variety of activities in this building  —  including the Silver Sneakers, youth sports, and community groups  —  the department has what is virtually a year-round program of outside activities on more than a dozen ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, and couple of walking trails.  There also is a roofed open area for picnics, family reunions, festivals, birthdays, and other events; and there are two play areas with swings, slides, etc.

Some kind of athletic league is in operation virtually year-round.  Check out our Rec Department.

MUNICIPAL COURT.  Earlier I mentioned that Temple’s Municipal Court meets in a room in the Recreation Department’s gymnasium.  The Court is presided over by Judge Tim McCreary, who has served in this position for several years.  Judge McCreary has many years of experience, has handled this important responsibility very effectively, and is very fair and firm in hearing cases brought by the City Police Department and our Code Enforcement Officer.  Court Clerk Tina Duncan also has done steady job for a number of years.     

Generally, Temple’s Municipal Court meets two days each month.  Later in 2023, these court sessions will move to new facilities at City Hall, which I mentioned a few minutes ago.  Then, that space in our gym will once again be used by the Recreation Department. 

POLICE DEPARTMENT.  As is the situation in most municipal governments, the department with the most employees is the Police Department.  Certainly, this is true in Temple.  Of this municipality’s 35 full-time employees, 16 are in the Police Department.  Thirteen are certified law enforcement officers.  Creig Lee has been Chief of Police for almost eight years, and has been in Temple’s force for more than 20 years.  He has done a very good job in this position, and certainly Chief Lee has provided very good leadership as Police Chief during the time that I have been Mayor of Temple.

I appreciate the work done 24-7 by all of our police officers, Ms. Duncan, and office manager Shawmarie Duckworth.  Let me note that each month Chief Lee makes a report to the City Council.  Looking back over 2022, some statistics presented by Chief Lee reflect the diversity and the importance of this department’s work. 

Basically, on a year-to-year basis, the City of Temple has been ranked among the 50 safest cities in Georgia.  That is a clear indication of the work and the dedication of our Police Department.

CODE ENFORCEMENT.  We have one employee assigned to work full-time as Temple’s Code Enforcement Officer:  Amy Campbell.  Probably not surprising in a growing community like Temple, City Code violations generally are in two broad categories:  issues involved in the development of  new  neighborhoods and in the preparation of lots and the subsequent construction of new structures on those lots.  Also, issues involving animals, in particular the mistreatment of dogs. 

Ms. Campbell had a busy 2022 dealing with cases which fit into these two broad categories.  Also, dilapidated structures and related health care issues, as well as various activities initiated without the appropriate City of Temple permits. 

While most people seek to follow the City’s rules and regulations, a small number seek to avoid compliance.  And that’s the area in which Code Enforcement frequently must operate.

CITY ADMINISTRATION.  In conclusion, let me point out several operations and responsibilities at City Hall.  I’ll start by calling attention to City Administrator Bill Osborne and Assistant City Administrator Lisa Jacobson.  Mr. Osborne has many years of experience in government, primarily at the local level.  Ms. Jacobson was employed by the City of Temple some four years ago as our Recreation Director and subsequently was promoted into the new position of Assistant City Administrator.  As a team, they provide very good staff-level guidance and leadership for our City departments. 

Among their continuing responsibilities is to make sure that I, as Mayor, and that each of the five members of the City Council are provided with information to help keep them informed about what is happening in the various departments of this City government and to be sure that I and my City Council colleagues are provided the information we need to prepare for the regular monthly meetings and various other  meetings of the City Council.    

Now, to conclude this State of the City report, I’ll turn to the very important topic of Finance and Administration.

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION.  The City Council members and I seek to establish and maintain a conservative approach to budgeting and spending our municipal revenues.  And this starts with the annual budget process.  In my annual State of the City report, I want to go back to December 6, 2021, when we adopted the 2022 Fiscal Year Water and Sewer Fund Budget and  General Fund Budget.

For FY2022, we adopted a General Fund Budget that included anticipated expenditures of $4,424,806.  And if the City actually spent all of this budgeted 4.4-plus million dollars during calendar year 2022, our General Fund’s fund balance would be more than $1.223 million. 

Now, fast forward to December 5, 2022.  As we prepared to adopt the General Fund Budget for FY2023, we were looking at spending $5,298,708 during the current calendar year…which, as you know, also is our fiscal year.  This would be an increase of $873,902 over the previous year.  And certainly we don’t take lightly our actions to increase annual expenditures by almost $900,000, as it is in this case.  But we agreed to make plans to spend these additional funds for good purposes in the City of Temple only after making sure the City’s very good fiscal status would be maintained.  Thus, the result of our prudent budgeting had this impact:  Our General Fund’s fund balance as we entered 2022 was more than $1.223 million, as I noted a minute ago.  And I am pleased to report at this time that our General Fund’s fund balance as we entered 2023 was more than $2.016 million.  In other words, our General Fund’s fund balance in January 2023 was about $800,000 higher than it had been one year earlier. 

I am pleased to report that the City of Temple careful spending habits are enabling us to meet our obligations while continuing to have some funds in reserves in case unexpected needs arise.  And with having made that report regarding our General Fund, let me now turn to our Water Fund, where our FY2022 reports also reflect a good fiscal status in our municipal government. 

For FY2022, the City Council adopted a Water Fund Budget that stated anticipated expenditures of $3,387,899.  And if the City actually spent all of this budgeted amount of almost 3.4 million dollars during calendar year 2022, our Water Fund’s fund balance would be more than $2.764 million.

Now, once again, fast forward to December 5, 2022.  As we prepared to adopt the Water Fund Budget for FY2023, we were anticipating the expenditure of $3,758,719 during the 2023 fiscal and calendar year.  This would be an increase of $370,820 over the previous year.  And to me, this is more than some type of insignificant increase; however, I and members of the City Council felt this increased level expenditures was needed to enable this City to continue to serve the water and sewer needs of this community. 

From a fiscal stability standpoint, let me remind you that our fund balance as we entered 2022 was more than $2.764 million.  And I am pleased to point out that our Water Funds’ fund balance as we entered 2023 was more than $3 million.  In other words, our Water Fund’s fund balance in January 2023 was about $245,000 higher than it had been one year earlier. 

A couple of facts for your information from FY2022.  Not surprisingly, our biggest department from a personnel standpoint was the Police Department.  In FY2022, day-to-day costs of operating our local law enforcement agency accounted for more than one-third of the operational costs budgeted in the General Fund. 

Approximately 60 percent of the City’s Operating Budget in FY2022 was spent for personnel, while some 24 percent was spent on what we identify as “operational services”. 

Revenues from water tap fees and water usage fees were almost the same as the amount of revenues from sewer tap fees and sewer usage fees.  

Although I could report more information from the City of Temple from calendar year and fiscal year 2022, I think it is clear that last year was a busy and a productive year in our community and in its local government.

CLOSING COMMENTS.  I do want to want to highlight one particular action which has taken place in the City of Temple every year that I have been Mayor, working cooperatively with the City Council and our staff.  And that highlight is each year I have had the pleasure of serving as Mayor, we have cut the tax millage rate.  This means that in each of the past six years, I and the members of the City Council have reduced the property  tax rate.  And while I know that many properties in Temple have increased in value during that time with one result being a higher tax bill, I know this also means that the property’s value has increased if the owner decided to sell it.

In 2017, Temple’s tax rate was 6.425 mills.  The next year, it had been reduced to 6.127 mills.  And in 2019, it was 5.598 mills.  That dropped a little more in 2020, being 5.549 mills; and 2021’s millage rate was slightly lower at 5.449 mills.  The 2022 property tax rate was set at 5.367 mills.  And if you were to combine all of these millage reductions, you would see that your City of Temple’s officials since 2017 have cut the tax rate from 6.425 mills down to 5.367 mills.  That’s a real teamwork accomplishment.        

Before I conclude my State of the City report, I want to thank our employees for the work they did throughout the year and for their interest in and commitment to this local government.  Also, thanks to the citizens who served on our boards and commissions, and thanks to those who took time from their schedules to come to City Council meetings, various civic activities, and special events in City park facilities. 

We appreciate the cooperative spirit of the Carroll County government and school system, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to work together during the year.  The same was true with the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, including its staff and Board members.  Likewise, for the members of our State legislative delegation.

Maintaining all of these contacts and the current spirit of cooperation is extremely important to me, to our City Council members, and to this community. 

And as always, certainly I want to thank my wife Donna and members of our family.  Without their understanding and love for this community, I certainly would not have been able to serve as Mayor and seek to represent Temple in various ways.   —   May God bless all of us in 2023.

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