Jasper City Council members likened Mayor David O’Mary to “a kid at Christmas” as O’Mary described the city’s newest purchase — a state-of-the-art street sweeper for the city’s streets department — during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The vehicle, a 2019 Liberty Mark III, was delivered to the city this week and will immediately be put into action cleaning city streets.
Buying the street sweeper is just part of the city’s $2 million in capital investments that will be made over the next few months, O’Mary said.
“This is our way of putting tax dollars back into our community,” O’Mary said, “and returning value to the taxpayers of the city.”
“It’s going to make this whole city look so much better,” said Billy Wade of the city’s streets department. “It’s going to be a great improvement over what we had.”
The street sweeper “will do things that we’ve had to do manually — and not really do a very good job at — for many years,” O’Mary said. “And that’s not being critical of our people. This will help keep our city sharp looking, while maximizing the value of our labor.”
“It’s going to go a long way for our city,” Wade added.
Prior purchases as part of the capital improvements include buying 51 Sig Sauer handguns at cost of some $22,000 to equip Jasper police officers with new weapons.
In addition to the street sweeper, which cost $135,000, the streets department will gain a new 2020 International brush truck at a cost of $159,000 and a service truck for almost $32,000. Both should be delivered in the next few weeks, Wade said.
In all, more than $326,000 will be spent on the streets department.
The Jasper Fire Department will gain a new fire truck, plus rescue air packs. The city’s cemetery department will get a Kubota 54-inch mower.
More than $180,000 will be spent at the city’s parks and recreation department, including new playground equipment and other work at the Percy Goode Community Center, a new gym floor and basketball backboards at Swann Gym, and development of a bike path at the Walker County Lake.
The Memorial Park Natatorium will see $125,000 in capital improvements, including repairing a leaky roof, redoing concrete flooring, replacing lockers and new public restrooms.
The city’s animal shelter will receive a new transport van.
The $2 million in investments, O’Mary stressed, comes from increase sales tax revenue and an improved economy over the past two years.
O’Mary said in November 2016, the city held a little more than $1.3 million in reserves. Today, the city boasts reserves of more than $7 million.
“That was brought about by two things — managing our finances well and the benefit of a good economy,” he said. “That puts us in a position to do things that really, really need to be done in our city. And I’m really pleased to say that all the things that were doing does not involve taking on any debt. We’re paying for everything as we go.”
That, O’Mary said, is unusual for many cities to be able to do.
“I always like to be unusual in the right way,” he said.