JONESVILLE — As the 2017-18 budget year comes to a close, the Jonesville Town Council continues to hold special meetings to review, project and establish a plan for the next year.
Beginning the process with a review of the past year, Town Manager Michael Pardue pointed out that there have been several significant staff changes including his own role.
“You might remember I was around for this last year,” said Pardue, noting his influence before he had officially taken on the position.
After pointing out observations for improvements and opportunities during the 2017-18 budget work sessions, Pardue was prepared to lead this year with continued excitement.
In addition to expanding code enforcement, researching new funding through grants, and establishing community involvement programs such as the litter clean up initiative, Pardue also has pushed for additional training opportunities.
“We need to work on retaining our people,” said Pardue. He explained there has been a history of police officers in particular who leave for other departments.
It is believed that continued and varied training will help throughout the town particularly because technology and guidelines change.
“The computer systems change a lot. The rules and the regulations that we’re required to follow are constantly changing and it’s expensive and it’s hard to keep up with,” said Town Clerk and Finance Officer Wendy Thompson.
“That’s the issue with a lot of towns, even the big cities have that issue of not keeping up. Even our state, because it’s so expensive and it’s constantly changing,” she said.
“The one good thing is we have been able to do a lot of training that is online so you don’t have as much of the travel and overnight expense on that kind of stuff.”
This is important to Thompson, who said, “saving money is my goal,” for the people of the town as well as the town.
To that end, Thompson has worked with Pardue and the council to strengthen town financial policies and provide convenience for customers.
“We added the credit cards this year,” said Thompson, “and our goal for next year is to be able to accept bank drafts for utility payments because that’s no cost to the customer to do it that way.”
The town also has begun to accept payment plans for outstanding bills which has led to recovery of some owed funds.
“That’s been very well received as far as helping customers out,” said Thompson.
Also helping customers out has been improvements within the overall water system including the reservoir and replacing the pumps on the river which had not been producing at capacity.
Through Public Works, which covers the pipes and the transportation of the water as opposed to the making of it, new water meters have been installed that are expected to be more accurate, saving both the customer and town money.
Public works will continue to be busy in the upcoming year.
“I’m going to ride around with someone from DOT, and we’re going to take a look at our streets,” Pardue said. “We’re going to look at what repairs need to be done and how to prioritize them to get the most for our money.”
The streets are not the only expected improvements to come in the next year.
“We’re going to look at taking care of a few things around here,” said Pardue, explaining the multipurpose town hall is an asset that should be attended. “We want to make sure we keep up with things in the building so it will continue to be nice for a long time to come.”
Signs, including those voted on by students at Jonesville Elementary School for the new litter cleanup program, will be part of the improvements to the town. Some directional signs including the history center and greenway, which had been purchased previously, are expected to be installed.
It is also hoped that Lila Swaim Park will see enhancements as the town investigates economic development opportunities.
“The park is really a passion of mine,” said Thompson. “I really wanted to start working on it last fall and I just ran out of time with everything going on around here.”
One of the changes will be the ability to schedule the fields as well as the shelter.
“We’ve had a bunch of different groups show up to use the ball diamonds at the same time,” said Thompson, “and we can fix that real easily.”
Questions contained within the budget also are expected to be fixed with little effort as staff waits for insurance premiums and other information to be dropped into place as soon as the numbers are available.
“I expect to have everything we need by our next meeting,” said Thompson.
That special work session will take place Friday at 8:30 a.m. at Jonesville Town Hall.
The regular monthly meeting of the Jonesville Town Council will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.