This is the last in a series of questionnaire articles about Statesboro’s three mayoral candidates. They answered questions by email.
Jan Moore, who faces two challengers in her bid for re-election as Statesboro’s mayor, said she is proud of what the city has accomplished in four years and cannot cite any disappointments.
But she identifies attracting and keeping qualified police officers as a major issue still facing the city and says the recent strategic planning survey identified other needs. Voters will choose among candidates John Grotheer, Jonathan McCollar and Moore in an election concluding Nov. 7. Advanced voting begins Monday.
Moore: “The most important, immediate issue facing our city is the same issue facing cities across the state of Georgia – attracting and retaining good law enforcement officers.
“I recently chaired a statewide task force on municipal workforce development, and the message was the same around the state. We are having more and more difficulty keeping our agencies staffed to full capacity, and we are unable to staff a police force that represents the diversity in our communities.
“That is why I was very vocal in asking (City) Council to approve a millage rate increase to fund a pay increase for officers this past August. If we do not get in front of this issue, and be as proactive as we possibly can, I feel with certainty that we will have a crisis in a year or so. This is not a crisis that we can afford to have.
“Instituting more competitive pay is not the total answer. We must and will make extraordinary efforts to market the positions that we have available seeking a more diverse applicant pool, marketing our city as a great place to live and work, and looking at the total package that our police officers receive. …
“As mayor, I have to make sure that we are fielding the best police force that we possibly can, because our safety is in their hands.”
Statesboro Herald: What have you achieved as mayor, and what disappointments would you hope to address in a second term?
Moore: “I am very proud of the great things that have been accomplished over the last four years. Not only is our City Council operating openly and effectively, the city is in much better financial condition than it was when I took office. Our general fund reserves have increased 565 percent to $3.64 million. The city’s unemployment rate has decreased from 9.2 percent to 6.5 percent, and there are good jobs available for our citizens in our industrial park and throughout the city.
“For the first time in the history of our city, a comprehensive strategic plan has been developed to guide the decision making of our City Council and city staff for years to come. Comprehensive plans have also been developed for the improvement of both South and West Main Streets.
“I have renewed positive and effective working relationships with the county and Georgia Southern University. We now have a Tax Allocation District within the city to encourage redevelopment, and the county has (joined) the city in this commitment. Statesboro was named a top Live, Work, Play City by Georgia Trend Magazine, and also a winner in the America’s Best Communities contest. …
“I cannot cite any disappointments per se. A great deal has been accomplished in a relatively short period of time.”
Statesboro Herald: Do you see Statesboro residents, businesses or visitors as being in need of more or improved services? What are those and how would you go about balancing demands for services with responsibility to taxpayers?
Moore: “Our community spoke with a very strong voice during the development of the city’s strategic plan. Our residents said protect us, and provide us with a higher quality of life through enhanced recreational activities, enhanced green space, more trails and sidewalks, and commercial development yielding an entertainment district, more restaurant options, and yes, another grocery store.
“Interestingly, the majority of respondents said they would be willing to pay more to receive these things. The community survey also showed that citizens were relatively pleased with the services they were receiving, but did want curbside recycling reinstituted.” …
Moore advocates continuing the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for city and county projects and adding a 1 percent Transportation SPLOST through countywide referendums.
“With a vote for a new round of SPLOST in November 2018 and TSPLOST in May 2018, the city will be able to budget over the next several years for most of what citizens have asked for,” she said.
She has asked city staff to begin “analyzing the viability of the reinstitution of a curbside recycling program within the city that would be run by the city as an enterprise fund this time, and not funded by grants thus insuring its sustainability.”
“I have said for the last year that we need to bring structured recreational activity back to our city parks, from water features to league play and instruction,” Moore said. “The fact that our city parks sit empty and mostly unused is not who we are as a community. A committee is being formed to develop a citywide master plan for our parks. We will continue to work with the county on this as it is responsible for providing recreation throughout the county, including inside the city limits.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.