In an attempt to bring in businesses, Fairmount City Council approved expanding its city limit to provide land for prospective industries.
On Monday, Jan. 6, Fairmount City Council approved annexing land that would expand its city limits up to Ranger’s city limits, Bartow County line, Pickens County line and up to mile marker 20 on state Route 53.
“This little old town is drying up. Our kids are growing up and moving out of town to get a job,” Fairmount Mayor Harry Pierce said. “It would be more family oriented if we had jobs here for our kids to grow up and get a job here and stay here.”
According to council member Jim Dodd, when looking at a map of Gordon County, businesses have two options on where to locate, due to wastewater, either the City of Calhoun or the City of Fairmount.
“But, you might as well say one place because we don’t have the landmass to develop,” Dodd said. “We are willing to do what we need to do, and of course we are looking at bringing in jobs. That’s the number one thing.”
Bill Thompson started working as the city attorney for Fairmount about 15 years ago, and he said when he got there the city started making a plan to grow and be competitive.
“We came up with a plan: organize the city, have regular meetings, get everything organized well, that was then and we came up with a growth plan. We started doing exactly what we needed to do, subdivisions and we got lucky, or we thought, because we had Pine Hall Brick build a $40 million plant,” Thompson said.
Then, the economy took a dive in 2008.
“Everything we have done has stagnated,” Thompson said.
According to Thompson, who also serves on the Gordon County Development Authority board, with this expansion Fairmount could have land to offer to prospective businesses, and he said there has been some large industries look at Fairmount.
“Expanding is what is going to close those deals. Without that flexibility we are not going to be able to do it,” Thompson said. “Fairmount has got some stuff to offer that few small towns do. If they can, then their destiny becomes their own.”
Ga. Rep. Rick Jasperse, who was in attendance, asked the council how this expansion was going to affect the residents of Fairmount.
“If we could get a major company in here these subdivisions would finish out up here, we’d have a tax base generating enough to where we could have a full time fire department here, and if you had all of the other stuff coming in you could cut the millage rate on properties,” Pierce said.
Ga. Sen. Charlie Bethel, who was also in attendance, asked the council if anyone was opposed to the expansion.
Pierce said some people feared they would be forced to annex into the City of Fairmount, but that wasn’t true.
The annexation is for the right-of-way on the highway. This does not include a forced annexation of any private residents, according to Dodd.
People are annexed into the City of Fairmount on a volunteer basis as long as the property wanting to be annexed touches a property that is already in Fairmount and does not cause an island, according to Dodd.
Pierce said another concern from some of the residents was the idea that the expansion was only to collect revenue from police patrolling the area. However, Fairmount is already the first responder to emergency situations in the area.
“The county lets this area stay a little vacant, why, because they have the Fairmount Police Department they can dispatch out. They can dispatch these out a lot quicker than they can get a county officer over here,” Pierce said.
Bethel said it makes since for Fairmount to collect the revenue from emergency services, since it is the first responder in many cases.
“You are the primary responder in an emergency situation, regardless if it is your intent or not, the revenue from ticketing is to offset the expenses of being an emergency responder. I’m not saying it’s your intent, I’m not saying that’s what you are going after, if you are the ones responding to calls there you ought to have the revenue stream attached to it,” Bethel said.
As for Gordon County, Chad Steward, Gordon County Commissioner said, as long as the residents are okay with the decision then the commissioners were satisfied.
“We are all in this together. We are all Gordon County. We want to do anything that will help them progress and make their city a better place,” Steward said.
The expansion is not final at the moment. The proposal has to be taken back to the state legislator, and approved there before it becomes final, according to Jasperse.