Live: Canton Residents Have Their Say
The mayor is hosting a town-hall meeting to listen to the concerns of constituents.
Mayor Gene Hobgood and members of the Canton City Council are fielding questions from residents during a "Let's Talk About Canton" town-hall meeting. Canton-Sixes Patch editor Rodney Thrash is there. Follow his live updates on Twitter (@CantonSxesPatch), and we'll compile those messages here a few minutes later. One of the topics that may come up is water rates, which could rise by at least 20 percent.
That's all folks. Thanks for following along, and feel free to add your comments in the box below.
7:17 p.m. Hobgood adjourns the meeting. "Thank you all for coming."
7:16 p.m. Hobgood says the city hasn't pursued the state to put money into the reservoir. "I've thought about that and desirous of those funds."
7:15 p.m. "The more information you have, the better position you are in to make recommendations to the city."
7:14 p.m. Resident Alexander is speaking again. He encourages everyone to come to council meetings, which are held twice a month.
7:13 p.m. Tanner says, "This council has some tough decisions to be made in the next several months."
7:12 p.m. Tanner says she appreciates "all of you" coming out to the town-hall meeting.
7:10 p.m. Hobgood says the city needs to keep $1.5 million in reserves.
7:10 p.m. Hobgood says the city doesn't have to have a $27 million water plant "tomorrow."
7:09 p.m. Hobgood says federal regulators want a plan on how the city will address those violations.
7:08 p.m. "We've had a number of violations of discharge from our wastewater treatment plan."
7:08 p.m. "We are here. We will listen."
7:07 p.m. "If not, we'll adjourn." He goes on to say, "It's our responsibility to listen. You're our boss."
7:07 p.m. Hobgood says, "We've run out of names," but "we've allotted to 8 o'clock."
7:07 p.m. "It will make our city cleaner."
7:06 p.m. Goodwin says the city will have another opportunity for citizens to sign up for the recycling program.
7:05 p.m. The system alerts residents during times of emergency or severe weather.
7:04 p.m. Council member Rush encourages members to sign up for the city's recycling program. "It rewards you by enabling you to get discounts" from merchants. Tanner reminds people to sign up for the alert notification system.
7:02 p.m. "That would help us build community. That's the next thing. How do we develop community out of all of the work that we have been doing?"
7:02 p.m. He says the city needs more advertising for a fourth Friday event the city hosts. "There are things already happening."
7:01 p.m. Taylor says, 'I would like to thank you. Things have changed. This council and this mayor are part of the reason that things are better." He also cites Main Street Program director Ginger Garrard.
7 p.m. Next up is Roy Taylor.
6:59 p.m. Beresford says, "There's a lot of factors. We're going to be able to make a sound decision."
6:58 p.m. Beresford says, "Somewhere the rates had to increase." The city is supplying three times what it supplied 10 years ago.
6:57 p.m. Hobgood says in less than four years, Canton has averaged a 6.2 percent increase every year.
6:56 p.m. Council member Rush says Canton is 5 percent lower than Cherokee.
6:55 p.m. Bardakjy asks how Canton rates now (compared with other jurisdictions). Hobgood says the city was expecting them today.
6:53 p.m. A resident in the audience says the county has procedures in place to address people who may not be able to afford higher water bills.
6:52 p.m. When the water treatment plant is paid for, he wants to see the surcharge fall off the bill.
6:51 p.m. Bardakjy says, "Rates are going to have to be raised."
6:50 p.m. Bardakjy says that he would like to see surcharge identified on new water bills.
6:49 p.m. Bardakjy says during the last drought Canton had, he didn't see any cutbacks from the water company.
6:47 p.m. Bardakjy has 25 years of budget experience with BellSouth. "I know how to cut back when money is tight."
6:46 p.m. Next up is Al Bardakjy on water and sewer.
6:46 p.m. Hobgood: "There is some activity going on there" for a riverwalk connecting the parks.
6:44 p.m. Council member John Beresford says the city needs to explore bringing in a denim company to restore the city's old distinction as the denim capital of the world. He's referring to the old mill where denim was produced.
6:44 p.m. Council member Goodwin says there are a lot of possibilities here. "One of the big things holding us back is parking."
6:43 p.m. Council member Jack Goodwin said it is because of the financial situation that the city hasn't moved forward big visions and dreams.
6:42 p.m. "We're not as short on vision as it may seem. We're short on money."
6:41 p.m. Hobgood says Grant and the Main Street Program have made a difference in this city. "But we do need more."
6:41 p.m. Grant receives a round of applause, the first speaker to do so.
6:40 p.m. "I applaud you for taking care of the routine business of our city. Dream a little bit about what could be."
6:40 p.m. "Connect the parks with a riverwalk."
6:39 p.m. "One of our strongest assets is that a river runs through this town."
6:39 p.m. Grant says he sees the potential for a boutique hotel at the site of the old Canton Grammar School.
6:37 p.m. "We as citizens can do so much. Potential investors would love to see the city invest in itself. I see a new hole where the fire was. ... I would love to see a billboard on 575 directing people to downtown."
6:35 p.m. Grant made a copy of an article that talks about small Southern cities that are doing great things while working with small assets. "We have a lot going on culturally." He plugged the Canton festival and mentioned the recent Jennifer Garner movie that filmed in Canton. "How can we increase the diversity of thought in what we're doing here?"
6:35 p.m. "I think it's time for us to think a little more creative."
6:34 p.m. But "we're becoming somewhat complacent on our vision for the future."
6:33 p.m. Bill Grant says he appreciates the great strides the council has made in addressing the city's debt.
6:33 p.m. Bill Grant says he sees "great potential in Canton."
6:32 p.m. Bill Grant wants to talk about the city's vision.
6:31 p.m. He's been asked to represent the county on the Atlanta Regional Commission's senior advisory council.
6:30 p.m. "The puppies can't thank you, but I will."
6:30 p.m. April 16 will be the opening of the first off-leash dog park in Cherokee County.
6:30 p.m. He wants to talk about the dog park.
6:29 p.m. Next up is Steve Nelson.
6:28 p.m. "If we stay in the water business, we're going to have to build that plant."
6:28 p.m. Council member Rush says the $27 million plant is not "falling apart but needs a lot of TLC."
6:27 p.m. "We've got some really tough decisions to make, and we welcome anyone's input."
6:26 p.m. "Since August 2007, the rates have been increased ... and we still can't make it."
6:26 p.m. "Cherokee Water & Sewer System ... it's one of those things we need to look at."
6:25 p.m. "It doesn't make sense to me to have five and six water systems within this county."
6:24 p.m. "The one thing I don't want to see happen is I don't want to see our residents paying a water rate that is far above and beyond other jurisdictions. ... We need to look at other things: privatization."
6:23 p.m. "I think there's a lot of things to look at. This council has heard from our financial consultant regarding the current situation. This council has not sat down and discussed the current recommendations."
6:22 p.m. "Like the $27 million water plant."
6:21 p.m. "We need to look at cutting back on some of the proposals ... because some of those things won't be needed for a long time out."
6:20 p.m. "I think there are some alternatives that we need to look at before we raise rates at X percentages."
6:20 p.m. "I wouldn't have a problem selling a portion of it."
6:19 p.m. Hobgood: "Personally, I would not want to sell the entire interest in that reservoir."
6:18 p.m. "Spend some time to (think of other ways to) raise revenues other than raising fees."
6:18 p.m. "There's other property you have that you can sell, too."
6:17 p.m. "You have a problem raising revenues. ... Sell assets ... Hickory Creek Log Reservoir."
6:17 p.m. The city inherited a nightmare from the previous administration, he says.
6:17 p.m. He wants to talk about water and sewer.
6:16 p.m. Next up: Andy Alexander.
6:15 p.m. Council member Pat Tanner says she has been meeting with City Manager Scott Wood on the issue.
6:13 p.m. He also talks about "a cemetery owned wholly by the city."
6:13 p.m. John Cadle, first resident, comes to the podium. He wants to talk about saving money.
6:12 p.m. The council will have a planning session on May 9. "This is timely."
6:11 p.m. "What I had to gain were some issues and thoughts."
6:10 p.m. "This is not a public hearing on water rates at this time. The purpose of this is not just water rates. We want to talk about some other issues as well."
6:09 p.m. Mayor Hobgood is asking a series of questions to the audience.
6:09 p.m. "Would you oppose the city's water and sewer system merging with the county's water and sewer system?"
6:08 p.m. "Do you see any sources of revenue that we're not utilizing to help pay for city services?"
6:07 p.m. "We expect and want public input to help us make the right decisions."
6:07 p.m. Council member Bill Bryan is absent.
6:06 p.m. "We really wanted to hear what you think your city government should be doing or not doing."
6:06 p.m. "We don't want any long-winded debates with the council."
6:06 p.m. "This is really your meeting," Hobgood says.
6:05 p.m. "This is the first meeting that that will be the case," Mayor Hobgood says.
6:01 p.m. Canton is experimenting with a live webcast of tonight's town hall. Watch it here.