It is the first part of March and the weather continues to fluctuate. We’ve had both warm days and cold days and the flowers aren’t quite sure what to make of it all. Hopefully everything will balance out as we enter Daylight Savings Time this Saturday night/Sunday morning. Don’t forget to spring forward and set your clocks forward an hour when you go to bed or you’ll be late for church!
I mentioned in my last blog that the Council and Mayor had our Annual Connect 2017 event. If you would like to see the Mayor’s State of the City Address you may view it here: Mayor Finley State of the City Address.
Great job Mr. Mayor in burying the hatchet and keeping communication an open fluid stream between the Mayor’s Office and City Council!
Mayor Finley’s Update for January 1 – 7, 2017
Happy late in the afternoon when most of you have gone home because of snow Friday!
Our city was back in full swing this week after the holidays. A few of the many activities that went on were:
- Week started off with a citizen email complementing our Public Works Department and Councilman Powell. Seems a distracted driver managed to climb the retaining wall in front of his house and cause quite a bit of damage. He had emailed PW and Teddy letting them know but not expecting a quick response due to the holidays. “Within minutes” both had contacted him and worked up a plan to support his needs. Needless to say…a happy “customer.”
- Code Enforcement did another sweep of the city for signs. Total number was down to 60……
- Planning led a productive meeting with the utility and cable companies regarding their part of downtown phase III and they are working on developing a project implementation schedule. This project continues to gain steam.
- Recreation met to discuss the possibility of offering adult sports leagues. They are investigating the possibility of offering adult volleyball, kickball, flag football, ultimate frisbee, and pickle ball leagues. We anticipate having a plan for implementing these leagues by the end of January.
- Legal met with Planning, Engineering, Public Works, and Building to discuss their anticipated Bid/RFP requirements for the first half of 2017. Great to see the proactivity that is needed to make these successful.
- Revenue renewed/issued 273 licenses resulting revenue of $74,000.00.
- Revenue also reported we finished the month of December, 2016 with general fund sales tax revenue increase of 8%.
- I attended Chairman Strong’s State of the County address and SMDC’s Change of Command Ceremony.
- I completed my Department Head meetings, making sure we understood what was in the 2016-2017 budget and discussing possible updates/needs for the midyear budget. Each Department Head came in fully prepared and able to answer every question. Also, it is exciting to hear some of the ideas that each has and we look forward to supporting them properly in the months to come.
Hope you have (or had) a great weekend!!
Mayor Finley’s Update for January 8 – 14, 2017
Sorry to be so late in writing up this week’s summary. I am just back in town from attending a “Newly Elected Mayor’s Economic Development Forum” put on by The University of Alabama’s Economic Development Academy. Even Mayor’s get professional development!
You guys were incredibly busy and productive this week. Some of your many highlights were:
- Building led a meeting attended by a host of other city departments, all focused on developing our city wide ADA Plan.
- Legal, Planning, and Engineering finalized all land deed requirements allowing us to “open up” Coefer Road. This is the new road between Kroger and Plaza Blvd.
- Court started scanning some of their misdemeanor case documents into Cabinet software. All went well and we are now well on our way to a more robust, searchable system.
- Finding a location to open a business in Madison just got easier! The City’s website now offers direct access to available commercial and industrial land and buildings. The information is available via the “Doing Business In” menu item on the Home page or via the Economic Development page. The dataset is searchable and updated on a regular basis.
- Reed Construction began work on the Hughes Road overpass in order to repair and stabilize the roadway. Estimated 90 days completion timeframe (1/9/17 to 4/9/17)
- Our Revenue Department issued a total of 362 business licenses resulting in revenue of $157,918.99.
- Work began on the infields at the three baseball/softball complexes at Palmer Park. The infields will be laser leveled and infield conditioner will be added. We anticipate this projected completed by mid-February.
- On the same day we posted our Police Chief position Police closed out their Patrol posting, allowing them to start the needed actions to hire new officers.
- Fire reported requests for CPR training have begun to increase again after the holidays. We have had 6 requests in 3 days. Fire will conduct their January class this Saturday.
- Fire had a very busy week with calls. They ran 21 calls Wednesday in a 24 hour period and have averaged 18 calls per day all week.
- Public Works continues to work a major trench failure project on Whisperwood.
- Taylor Edge led a CIP “Discovery” meeting with all stakeholders, setting the stage for productive discussions at our upcoming work session.
- HR has had an incredibly busy month changing/updating COLA, Insurance, mandated federal tax withholding, etc for employees.
- I met with Chip Cherry (Huntsville-Madison County Chamber President) and Joe Newberry (Incoming Chair) concerning all Chamber activities and support. As our outside agency focused on economic development and job growth I have high expectations for their services and used this time to share my thoughts.
- I attended the Change of Charter Ceremony for the Program Executive Office Aviation.
- I attended our Madison City Schools Board meeting where they announced their final four Superintendent candidates, updated us on their growth study, and detailed their Special Education requirements and plans. Our schools expect to grow by 2000 students in 10 years (20%) and they feel they will need 2 elementary schools, 1 high school, and 1 middle school within the next 10-12 years.
I hope everyone enjoys (enjoyed) the warmer weather…..thanks for all that you do to support our citizens and our city!!
Mayor Finley’s Update for January 15-22, 2017
Sorry to be late in sending this out….after our Friday work session with City Council I had the privilege of representing our city at a going away ceremony for Madison resident Jim Bolte, President of Toyota and simply ran out of time.
I continue to be amazed at the efforts and accomplishments we collectively are making happen. Some of the high lights this week include:
- Taylor and I traveled to Atlanta to meet with the developers of Town Madison, the Fuqua Development group. We were blown away with all they are doing in Atlanta and excited to see and hear what is coming to Town Madison. We should be bringing Council project numbers next week which then lead to what we all are ready for, store announcements and time frames.
- Taylor and I also had an extremely productive meeting with local ALDOT Director Curtis Vincent to discuss our multiple road and bridge projects. We have a much better understanding of where Zierdt Road, Balch Road, the new ramps off of I-565 into Town Madison, Highway 72, County Line Road, and many others stand. Working with Gary, Mary Beth, and team we will continue to push/pull as required to move these forward and/or close them out as quickly as possible.
- Our City Council held a work session Friday afternoon. “Big Rocks” such as growth, communication, KDA’s, economic development, the pool, our CIP, school growth, Limestone County Tax funding, and others were discussed in detail. Thanks to all of the department heads who presented and attended….I think the Council feels we had a very productive meeting!
- The Planning staff attended a workshop on the Main St. Alabama program to learn about how the program might help with downtown revitalization
- Engineering issued a purchase order for a boundary and topographic survey for Dublin Park to begin storm water improvement designs. It will also be used for ADA compliance design and paving additional parking areas.
- Revenue had a busy week renewing a total of 359 licenses renewed resulting in revenue of $199,563.43. They also passed along that online filing of taxes continues to increase. For this week, a total of 1,365 returns were filed online representing $1,004,934.90 in revenue to be processed.
- Our Police family increased this week as Major Jim Cooke swore in the 3 new officers, Officer Joshua Garlen, Davin Hill, and Jonathan Siskoff. We welcome them into our Madison family.
- Our Madison Fire Department was busy as all three shifts participated in EMS testing with Dr. Johnson.
- I had the honor of representing the city and saying a few words at the 32nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King unity breakfast. This event is the largest event in North Alabama on that date.
As we move into next week we are so excited to spotlight our City at Connect 2017. Our Madison Chamber continues to work hard to make next Friday nights event special, allowing us to deliver our state of the city to 500+ guests and a WNHT audience.
Thanks to all of you for your efforts………………
Mayor Finley’s Update for January 23 – February 4, 2017
Happy Friday to you guys.
Sorry to miss my message last week. My goal was to obtain the video link to the State of the City address and send it out Sunday but we had difficulty obtaining it. Taylor was finally able to run it down. I would like to ask each of you to take the time when you can to watch it…..and on company time is OK too! As Mayor and Council we are proud of our team and we were excited to share our message with 500 of our closest friends Friday night. The two videos embedded were done by Madison resident Phil Schmidt and the box used for the Hatcher ceremony with council was done by Kent Smith and the Public Works team.
The total length is about 30 minutes….thanks for investing the time to watch it.
So, getting back on track let me add a couple of high lights from this week:
- Planning hosted a Regional Greenway Network planning effort, which is beginning to look at opportunities to expand and better connect greenways in the tri-county area.
- Planning attended the Economic Development Association of Alabama Winter Conference in Montgomery this week, gathering information on everything from legislative initiatives to workforce development and receiving updates from State officials.
- Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment members attended a Certified Alabama Planning and Zoning Official class, thereby keeping their CAPZO certification current.
- Finished the month of January with general fund sales tax revenue being up 7.16% over the same month last year.
- Hit a new milestone with over 2,500 tax returns being filed online for the month of January, 2017.
- Our Senior Center staff is planning a Mardi Gras Party with the Rotary club. The party is scheduled for February 24, 2017.
- I had the honor of attending a tour and lunch of the Army Material Command along with Mayor Battle and Chairman Strong. The event was hosted by General Perna and documented not only what they are doing but also involved discussion on how we can collectively use our combined strength for the overall community.
- I met with our Madison Chamber members to discuss how we can maximize our efforts for business development and marketing. I will follow up next week and speak to the Board.
- Taylor attended the ACCMA (Alabama City/County Management Association meeting in Mountain Brook last week and came back with multiple pieces of information supporting areas of focus including economic development, communication, recreation, and city management.
- I spoke to the Leadership Alumni Group last week providing an update and future vision for Madison. Councilman Overcash also attended supporting a full house of attendees.
- Simply put….I got my clock cleaned in Chess by a 3rd Many other (including Councilman Overcash and Gary Chynoweth) also supported the Madison Chess League in their fundraiser.
- Lastly, we have started the mid-year budget process. Department Heads are working now on any adjustments that are needed to support our mission and we (Mayor and Council) will then look to add pieces from our 90 day plan.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read this and for all that you do for our citizens.
Have a great weekend.
Mayor Finley’s Update for February 4 – 11, 2017
Happy Friday to you. What a crazy week of weather we have witnessed this week…seems like a month of weather rolled into one. Lots going on again this week:
- Revenue is monitoring a pharmacy bill exempting prescription drug sales from business license gross receipts that has been introduced at the state level. Cameron estimates that the impact to business license revenue if it were to pass would be a loss of revenue of about $50,000. Needless to say we are not for it and will most likely ask Council to pass a resolution opposing the bill.
- Our financial audit team is in house for the next couple of weeks. This team is new to Madison. Good news is so far they seem very happy with our records…our New World system continues to provide great documentation.
- Planning and the Mayor attended kick-off meetings for the Redstone Arsenal Joint Land Use Study. This is an 18 month effort led by a consultant looking at not only Redstone Arsenal but also the surrounding area.
- Our new City Council members and staff attended the first in a series of certification classes offered by UNA on Planning and Zoning
- Recreation met with Megan in legal to develop a scope of work for development of a Palmer Park master plan. The plan will serve as a guide for council to fund project upgrades at Palmer for the next 10-20 years. The plan will be paid from the current Rec Department Budget. We anticipate approval of the contract on the February 27, 2017 City Council agenda.
- Our new MARS van has arrived and will be put into service soon. Madison also purchased a new van last year so the fleet is in good shape for the next few years.
- I enjoyed a great strategic discussion meeting with new Superintendent Robbie Parker.
- Code Enforcement removed about 45 signs this week. Ulises gathered about 18 more wooden stakes in the county line Burgreen road area.
- I attended the Annual Huntsville Madison County Chamber Meeting where Gillian Tate, author of several business books spoke.
- Gary Chynoweth and I attended a Zierdt Road update meeting. We were able to work through/discuss multiple issues that needed resolving.
- Gary, Tommy Overcash, and I attended a kick-off meeting for the Town Madison/565 interchange. It is exciting to see this project progress. All required State and Federal paperwork has been secured which now allows the developer to “lock-in” the tenants. Hang tight folks….announcements are coming soon!
- I met with our Madison Chamber Board of Directors (along with Councilwoman Wroblewski) to discuss our short and longer term plans.
- The Town Madison Cooperative District met and approved another phase of road projects.
Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend….enjoy!
Mayor Finley’s Update for February 19 – 26, 2017
Happy Friday! Our short week has been quite productive….here are just a few of our accomplishments:
- While we still have tax revenue coming in, it is estimated that general fund sales tax revenue will be up at least 5% over the same period last year.
- Court is excited to announce the delivery of our new prisoner transport van. It was paid out of the court corrections fund and will now be outfitted with the proper safety requirements. Great utilization of our court $$$.
- Code Enforcement picked up only around 15 signs total. No repetitive signs were picked up for builders or realtors!!
- We have narrowed our Fire Chief search down to a final 10 and interviews will be completed next week. Again our goal will be to narrow that pool down to a final 3-5 for City Council interviews.
- HR has taken our 60ish Police Chief applications and sorted them into the matrix we use for down-selecting. Our selection team will be working through the weekend to narrow this field.
- Police had 17 Officers attend the ISIS: The Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Ideology Training in Huntsville. This is a great example of using specialized training for improved subject matter expertise.
- I met with representatives from the Huntsville Madison County Chamber to discuss areas of concern we (Madison) had with current set up and operations. It was a very positive yet direct meeting that hopefully will have great long-term advantages for Madison.
- I also attended a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting put on by the Federal side of ALDOT to learn how our area is doing and what we might be able to improve. Again, we had a very frank yet productive discussion that hopefully will lead to Madison being more involved in operations.
- I represented Madison at the NASA Small Business Alliance meeting and at the Air Space Missile Defense Assn (ASMDA) Annual Luncheon.
- All departments turned in their mid-year budgets on time and I met with Finance today to go over each request. We are on track to send the Mayor’s recommendations to the Finance Committee next week.
- Taylor continues to have multiple meetings with Downtown residents to help ready our Phase3 construction and to look forward into possible Economic Development opportunities.
Lastly, I wanted to call out our Madison Police Department for the fantastic work they did on the hit and run fatality that occurred in Edgewater earlier this week. We assessed the scene, investigated all leads, and secured a subject quickly and professionally, giving closure to a very sad situation. You guys made us proud and we thank you for all that you do each and every day to keep us safe!
Hope all of you have a great weekend………thanks for what you do for our citizens!
Mayor Finley’s Update for February 27 – March 4, 2017
Good Monday morning,
Hope all of you had a great weekend and enjoyed our fantastic weather. We stayed very busy last week…here are just a few of the activities:
- I travelled to Montgomery with the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber to meet with many of our elected and state officials including Governor Bentley, Senator Orr, Representative McCutcheon, State School Board Superintendent Michael Sentence, State Finance Director Clinton Carter, and others. I also was able to meet with Dr. Fowler to discuss our Limestone County Tax issue.
- We conducted 10 Fire Chief interviews last week. A huge thank you to our HR team for a fantastic job conducting this process.
- Our MPD graduated four new Reserve Officers last week bringing our ranks up to 11. These folks were willing to give up 14 weeks of evenings to get the required training and volunteer to serve our city.
- Our Downtown Phase III bid packet was finalized, advertised, and uploaded to the eBids website for contractors to view.
- The Rotary Club partnered with the Senior Center staff to host a Mardi Gras party at the Senior Center. The party was funded by Senator Bill Hotzclaw.
- The infields at Palmer have been turf planed and new infield conditioner has been installed. The fields were playable after the heavy rains that occurred this past week because of the work done on the diamonds.
- The car in the grass on the west side of the fire station is for the Fire Department’s March training. All shifts will be training on vehicle extrication.
- Mid-year Budgets were completed and sent to the Finance committee for review.
Let’s have a great week!
Mayor Finley’s Update for March 5 – 12
Happy Friday afternoon….what a beautiful day it has been. Wanted to share a few of the high lights from this week:
- We conducted our initial down-select for our open Police Chief position, narrowing down our field of 60 in ½. HR “recalibrated” our spreadsheet and we will now work to narrow that field even further. I am looking forward to setting up a meeting with a group from MPD (as we did with Fire) to listen to their ideas and obtain suggested questions for our upcoming interviews.
- I attended Congressman Brooks update put on by the Chamber. We heard loud and clear that Congress is deeply divided and that most legislation will be lucky to move forward. Yah, depressed me too!
- On a more positive note our Madison School Board accepted Superintendent Parker’s recommendation to move our 6th graders up to middle school for the 2018-2019 school year. To accomplish this the School Board will invest 8-10 million in upgrading Liberty Middle. Not only is it expected this will make our schools stronger but this most likely means we will not need another school built for 8-10 years. Kudos to our Council for selecting these members who worked together to do what was right for our city.
- A new 17,250 sf shopping center, Sycamore Row, has been approved for the east side of County Line Road, north of the Redstone Federal Credit Union. Construction is expected to begin in the next month.
- The Rec Advisory Board met and began discussing the Palmer Park Master Plan. Each Rec organization presented items they wish to see included as part of the plan.
- E-Mail System Replacement – It has now completed 196 of 350 migrations. They still need to finish up one department in City Hall, and the rest of the Parks and Rec Department. This is the most time consuming part of the entire project due to fact that no two computers, or cellphones for that matter, are the same. However, the team is working as quickly as possible to expedite the conversion while still limiting impact to the affected departments.
- Travelled to Montgomery to attend a specially called meeting by Senator Holtzclaw concerning the Limestone County Tax Funding issue. All parties attended, as did the legislative team, and great discussion occurred. I am confident mediation has worked (as not one of the parties is happy with the agreement) and also confident we can get this thing settled this Spring.
- I had the pleasure of brining pizza to Mrs. Amy Williams 3rd grade class at Horizon Elementary. If you have received a birthday card this year Mrs. Williams class most likely made it. Needless to say we had a great time!
- Council conducted a work session Wednesday night and discussed our mid-year budget, CIP projects, and we then discussed and updated our Spring 2017 plan. We will be setting up a Growth Committee (made up of City, Schools, and citizens) to look forward for strategic planning.
I hope everyone has a great weekend and if you are headed out for Spring Break please be safe and smart!
My Goal for a Future Animal Shelter
One of the platforms that I ran my campaign on was to build a proper Animal Shelter. Our current shelter is a ~12’ x 24’ cement block building just north of City Hall and west of the parking lot. It has about 5 kennels for dogs and six cages for cats and no workspace for the Animal Control Officers. I had hoped to build the shelter using private funds and grant allocation. At this time that does not appear to be possible so I am going to concentrate my efforts on building a multi-use path from the intersection of Wall Triana and Gillespie south to Browns Ferry and an extension of the Mill Creek Greenway at the intersection of Balch and Gillespie extending northwest to Wall Triana. It is still my hope to build a proper animal shelter within the next four years.
On February 21st Council Member Seifert and I attended the League of Municipalities Annual Legislative Advocacy Session. It was very informative to hear what bills will be coming before the Alabama Legislature this session. A Bill of particular interest is HB58 (House Bill) and SB31 (Senate Bill), which are both currently pending passage. This Bill would remove prescription drug sales from the calculation of gross receipts for municipal business license taxes. Because we have approximately sixteen businesses in the city limits that are licensed to sell prescription drugs this passage would result in an estimated loss of general revenues in the amount of approximately $75,000. Your City Council and Mayor oppose this Legislation and filed a resolution (Resolution No. 2017-45-R) in opposition of this legislation.
On Tuesday, March 7th I had the opportunity to go on a “ride along” with one of Madison’s Finest Police Officers, Aubrey Wallis. It was a very informative trip with a brief glimpse into the life of a Madison Police Officer. Thank you Officer Wallis in being so patient with my many questions!
Town Madison continues to move forward as there was a kick-off meeting for the 565 interchange at Town Madison and we should see construction work beginning soon. All State and Federal paperwork has been secured which now allows the Developer to “lock-in” the tenants. Announcements should be coming soon! We will also welcome a new Jack’s Restaurant to Highway 72 between Sonic and Walgreen’s. There will also be a new Tire Discounters next to Salsarita’s and Uncle Maddios.
The Madison Chamber of Commerce will be hosting their annual Taste the Spirit of Madison on April 8th at Insanity Complex on Hughes Road. The daytime festival will be from 10 am to 3 pm and is “family friendly” with a variety of goods and services of local businesses and food trucks. The fun continues in the evening from 6 to 10 pm with Bites & Brews. There will be samples from over 25 local restaurants and craft breweries. For more information you can reach the Chamber at 256.325.8317 or www.madisonchamber.com
MCDAB (Madison City Disability Advisory Board) will be having their Special Needs Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 15. Registration begins at 1:30 with the hunt starting at 2 pm. Games and snacks will follow the hunt. If you would like to be involved or have questions, please send an email to Tina Beacraft at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about MCDAB at their Facebook page: MCDAB Facebook Page
The Hogan Family YMCA hosts a Making Waves program every second Saturday of the month from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. This program is free to families with disabilities and all are welcomed to play in the water!
Lastly, thank you to Senator Bill Holtzclaw for grant funds for our Police and Fire Departments. In next month’s blog I will be able to share what has been purchased and the benefit it will have for our First Responders.
Here’s hoping March will go out like a lamb! As always if you have any questions or concerns I can be reached at Email Maura. or 256.337.2408. Thank you for your continued support!