Mayor talks growth, finances at annual State of Town address

Oakland Mayor Chris Goodman emphasized town growth, financial responsibility and Public Works projects last Wednesday during his third State of the Town address at Revolution Church.
The annual address was sponsored by the Oakland Regional Chamber of Commerce and BancorpSouth.
Goodman began the address by thanking the town’s four aldermen and other staff leaders.
“While we may not always see eye-to-eye,” he said, “we have been able to accomplish things and keep our town moving forward.”
Goodman called the annual address an opportunity to recognize the past year’s accomplishments and provide an update on the town’s services.
He noted that, within the past year, Oakland has been rated the third safest municipality in Tennessee, ranked among the top 10 best places to live in the state, and rated the 13th best place for first time home buyers.
“We continue to be rated and reviewed,” he said, “and we continue to be placed at the top in state, and out of our state.”
Regarding Oakland’s finances, Goodman said the town’s general fund is currently at $2.4 million, with monthly expenses at $438,000.
“So,” he noted, “the general fund is 5.5 times more than our month-to-month expenses.”
Within the current budget, the town has been able to purchase “over due” equipment and add positions within the fire and police departments.
“As the population grows,” he said, “we have to ensure our staff, especially public safety, keeps pace.”
Goodman then addressed the town’s water and street funds.
“While we have had some issues in the past with water loss, operations are strong,” he said. “While there is work to do, the water fund has well over $2 million, which will allow us to support growth as we look to the future.”
He said the town is also in the process of completing $220,000 in drainpipe repairs and relocating a damaged pipe.
“We are in the process of securing a state loan to repair an on going drain water issue on Highway 64,” he said, “as well as extending sewer lines to the east end of town to open up more commercial property and the opportunity for future home development.”
Goodman said the Regular Street Maintenance Program that was started last year was not depleting the town’s street fund.
“We are ensuring that those funds, along with the small tax increase last year, are going toward keeping our roads repaired and operational,” he said.
Goodman cited the recent work along Black Ankle Creek and the Oakland Woods subdivision as projects that are “strengthening our town and building confidence within our town’s abilities.”
Goodman said Oakland is currently at a “steady 7-percent growth.”
“New housing starts are up for this fiscal year so far, with May being a record month of 21 starts,” he said.
According to Goodman, new business growth is accelerating as well.
Some of the new businesses he mentioned include William Insurance, Lewis Small Engine, Murphy Oil and Gateway Tire, which Goodman said is “actively working on starting their building in Oakland.”
“I am so excited about the future for our great town,” he said. “We are seeing steady growth, continued attention from the public and our great product (the town) just keeps getting better.
“We have new home developments that are in front of the Planning Commission that are like nothing we have had in Oakland in the past but align the town with what the market is showing is wanted,” he continued.
“We have commercial property that has been purchased with owners that have new and exciting ideas,” he said. “The bottom line is they want to be in Oakland and do business here.”
Goodman said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently passed legislation, which will allow the town to start a Master Plan.
“The master plan will start with a corridor plan for Highway 64 and a plan for a downtown area,” he said. “From there, we will start looking at Parks and Rec and cultural arts, how to preserve our historical areas, how to handle future growth with our Water/Waste water and we will look at our over all land usage plans.
“This master plan is vital to how the town is continued to be shaped and positioned for the future,” he concluded.