Valdosta Mayor's State of the City Address is Thursday -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta Mayor's State of the City Address is Thursday

By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) –Valdosta hasn't been hit as hard by the recession as many communities, but it's still taken a hit.

The mayor expects the economy to pick up this year but it will be another tight budget year.

Mayor John Fretti's State of the City Address will bring both bad and good news. He says housing starts and commercial development are down.

"But yet on the other hand we have retail sales up," said Mayor Fretti. "We have our pull factor up. We have our construction capital investments, VSU, South Georgia Medical Center, Val Tech and Moody up this year."

He'll also talk about taxes and the April 2009 floods. He says the city will be looking at a stormwater master plan and look at city capacities and water ways.

"What we have to do is engage our neighbors to the north. North Lowndes, Adel, Ashburn, Tifton, those who don't have water controls in place, to hold water and to stop it north of us or delay it some before it ever gets to us," said Mayor Fretti. 

The mayor says his speech will be bare to the bone. He says he'll reflect on the serious issues the city's had to endure in last three years.

"It'll be slow growth, slow recovery and we'll see some sectors of our economy maybe even change the way they do business or have done business," said Mayor Fretti.

He does not foresee any furloughs or staff reduction for city workers.

"We're like every other local government,"said Mark Barber, City of Valdosta Finance Department Head. "Sales taxes are down for us this year. They're down 10 percent through last month's collection."

Barber says the city's managing its budget by cutting operating expenses. He says these cuts don't affect services provided to customers. The State of the City Address begins at 5:30 Thursday inside City Hall.

The mayor says recovery is going to be measured by unemployment and business start-ups and that it will take several years to get the economy back to a pre-recession level.

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