Good evening and Happy Birthday Tega Cay!
I have been looking forward to this day with excitement and a nervous anticipation. This celebration gives me the opportunity to talk with you about our extraordinary city.
I don’t have to tell you that the last few years have been challenging, but despite our hardships, our City is strong. The saying goes “adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it”. I believe that in these times Tega Cay’s strong character has not just been revealed, it is what has allowed us to excel. The character of the people in Tega Cay is demonstrated through their willingness to step up and do what’s necessary. It shows in our volunteers, our staff and our elected officials’ commitment to working as a team, to meet challenges and their desire to keep looking ahead and planning for a great future. It is because of the extraordinary character of our community, we can say, a great city starts here.
I want to share with you some of the exciting things that we’ve accomplished so far this year, and what I believe the future has in store. I want to talk about them in the context of our government; our businesses and of course, our community.
Good Community Starts Here
Over the past few years, we have seen electronic communication explode. This year the City’s website got a new look and we began actively using Facebook, Nixile (an alert system for weather and other citywide emergency information), and of course we continue to use our email list. Not only is city staff using Facebook, but be sure to check out the Tega Cay Golf Course
Facebook page for course updates and special offers. I still don’t completely understand Facebook, but fortunately some of our employees do and they want to know if you have joined the City of Tega Cay “group” yet?
What was once the City releasing information is now two way communication?
Not only can we keep our residents informed and educated, we can get feedback from them. Through the course of a week, a subscriber may receive several messages about:
- Council agendas,
- Job postings,
- Request for bids and proposals,
- Road closings
- News about Tega Cay
- And any other interesting things happening in the City.
Good communication builds community! If you are not yet connected through one of these lines of communication, please go to our website to join us.
As I mentioned before, Tega Cay never lacks for people who will step up when there is a need. This year, the Community Relations Committee was 85% NEW. Those new members took up the challenge to put this celebration together and have done an amazing job with an extremely complicated first task. They have worked countless hours, come in on budget, raised new sponsorship and created new features such as the outstanding Carnival of Fun.
Recently, I read that a volunteer hour is valued at $20.86 nationally. The value of the volunteer hours this weekend alone is over $17,000. Not counting committee meetings, shopping, planning, or any other function that went into making this weekend possible. That is one committee for one weekend in this city. Every function and event in Tega Cay has volunteers, can you imagine the dollar value that? The human value? – Priceless.
I for one cannot thank the CRC enough for the work they did this weekend and the weeks leading up to it.
I would also like to thank every other committee and volunteer in Tega Cay for what you make possible for your fellow citizens.
Understanding the importance of volunteers in the city, is why one of the first things we did was set up a Volunteer fair, that enabled citizens to understand our city and how it works. We changed the volunteer appointment process to better accommodate new volunteers on committees. We are in the planning stages of adding ways for citizens to get involved and understand how the city government works.
Good Business Starts Here
Although development has certainly slowed and the economy continues to lag, we have had our problems to overcome but we are working diligently to address them. Yet, even in the midst of this economic downturn, the business community continues to discover something the rest of us have known for years. Tega Cay is an amazing community bursting with opportunity. I am proud to share with you that, while other areas are shedding businesses, at this time, we have four new establishments joining our community in the Stonecrest/Graystone area. This is a testament to something we residents have long known – Tega Cay is a remarkable community bursting with opportunity.
As of today we are within reach of our budgeted rounds of golf for the year, the greens are beautiful and although I haven’t had time to play, I have heard as recently as yesterday that the course is and I quote “phenomenal”, “one of the best courses in the Charlotte area for the dollar value”. We have encouraged residents to bring their family and friends from out of town to play our course with the Mayor’s Card, increasing our revenue with OPM (Other people’s money!). Bryan and his staff continue to work hard to bring our course where it needs to be including hosting an NFL Alumni Golf Tournament [another one coming in the fall] which brings national attention to Tega Cay. We have also hosted many corporate and charitable events including recently the annual Bank of America Golf Tournament.
We have also sought and met with the Chamber of Commerce to discuss ways of improving mutually beneficial business relationships here on the peninsula and in the Stonecrest area of Tega Cay.
Good Government Starts Here
This year, we have 3 council members in new positions, while I was on council, as your Mayor I have taken on a different role on council. We also have two new members. In any new job, statistically, it can be expected for it to take an individual a minimum of 6 months to get comfortable. We have 60% of our council getting used to a new situation and the other 40% of council and all of staff getting used to a new team. Change is challenging for anyone and we are working hard to make this transition. Transitions do not come without bumps and bruises and we are working to reach smooth ground, of course I would hope that none of us reach the point where we are reluctant to present opposing views, I will admit, the path of least resistance may seem easy, but it is not necessarily right!
I can say I have never worked with a group of people more passionate about a common goal: the future of Tega Cay. This is evidenced by council voting to go to two council meetings per month until such time as we resolve long standing issues such as the sign Ordinance, the nuisance ordinance and others.
One of the earliest things we did as a new council was hold the FIRST ever Council/Staff retreat to create cross-communication between Elected Officials and Department Heads. The purpose was to get to know each other and hopefully open avenues of communication.
We have been working a lot over the past 7 months on issues facing the city:
- We held public hearings with the State Public Service Commission to allow citizens to impress upon state regulators the concerns about their water and sewer rates.
- We have also arranged meetings with SC-DHEC to pose questions to the environmental enforcement agency about Tega Cay water service,
- We have met with residents about the sale of city hall. We have had educational meetings about storm water.
- We have obtained additional grant funding (county funds) to conduct large road improvement projects,
- And increased street maintenance funding within the existing budget to support the community.
Overall, the Staff/council/volunteers have managed to secure over $500,000 in grant funding including grants for Croquet, the Fire department, and the above mentioned County funds for road work. We also took the time to listen to the needs of the community regarding the LPGA.
Nearly all of our elected officials and appropriate city staff have now achieved NIMS Certification status (National Incident Management System) which is required for Federal aid funding in the event of a disaster.
Committee minutes are now appearing on our website as well as most if not all of the council meeting agendas and attachments for residents review prior to council meetings.
We are in the process of seeking cooperative agreements with York County and Fort Mill to reduce operational costs and improve services; you are now able to pay your TCUD bill online, and we have been utilizing youth in summer programs to support City staff in buildings and grounds operations.
Maybe you have or haven’t heard about the property that the FM School district just purchased on the other side of the Tega Cay sign (better known as the McCall property). The 27+/- acre property will have an elementary school for 1,100 students and for the first time in FM SD history it will be a partial 2 story building. We have had conversations about the districts interest in the property being annexed into the city generating utility revenue on property we will already be first responders to in the event of an emergency. This is Annexation that would add revenue without adding excessive burden.
In another first for our growing City, we have started the process of hiring our first two Full time paid fire personnel. Advertisements have been placed in the newspaper and on the city website and we are already receiving many qualified applications. The process will continue for the next several weeks and we hope to hire these firefighters by August first, placing two qualified firefighters in the city during the workday for immediate response to local calls.
Of course we are so glad to know that the County is proceeding with Hubert Graham Way, based on current projections, Hubert Graham Way should be completed by 2013 or 2014 depending on the environmental studies required for the project, greatly relieving traffic flow at the Gold Hill Rd & 160 intersection.
One of the key initiatives that I and Council immediately embarked on once taking office was addressing the long term fiscal needs of our community. Through careful review of the budget, reassignment of some funds and a fiscally conservative approach including budget cuts, the City should have a contingency fund of over $275,000 by the end of this fiscal year, up from approximately $30,000 at the end of last year [$7,000 2 years ago], an increase of over 900% in a YEAR.
At a time when many communities are struggling under changing economic conditions, Tega Cay has actually managed to improve its bond credit rating from an A3 status to A1. This is no small feat and a testament to the hard work and leadership of our staff. To preserve our credit rating and ensure our future financial stability, fiscal rating agencies need to see 16% of annual budget in RESERVE – or approximately $800,000 in our case – a goal we are working to reach over the next few years].
I believe in 2010-2011 we will continue to have our eye on the budget, increasing our contingency and serving the city and its residents to the best of our abilities.
It is important, even in these times, to continue planning for and working toward our vision for the future of Tega Cay: Financial stability and responsible growth.
I commend those on the Council and staff who have made difficult decisions for the right reasons. I look forward to continuing to work with a good elected and staff team as we build our future. There are many challenges ahead but we are ready.
I am optimistic about the future. I am optimistic because people in our community are willing to step up and do what is necessary; because it is through these partnerships that we tackle tough issues; and because we never quit planning for the future of this good community. I believe Tega Cay has a very bright future; and that “a great city starts here.”
Thank you for your commitment to Tega Cay, and thank you for being here today.