ALBANY — With the addition of The Flint restaurant, the Pretoria Fields Collective Brewery, along with other new businesses and the planned move of the Albany Museum of Art, downtown Albany is enjoying a renaissance.
That being the case, now is no time to take the pedal off the gas, Dougherty County Commissioner Anthony Jones said. The county should continue working with the city of Albany to keep the momentum going, Jones said during an interview about what he would like to see local governments focus on in 2020.
“I’d like to see the county and city work together,” he said. “I’d like to see downtown development continue to move forward. I really think it’s important the city and county continue to work together to carry out the goals and ambitions of the citizens of this community.”
One way to bring that about is to encourage local entrepreneurs to locate downtown, Jones, who represents the county’s District 6, said. The art museum will bring additional visitors from out of town, and they likely will visit other attractions and businesses while in the downtown area.
“That’s a huge investment,” he said. “Once you get the museum downtown, a lot of people are going to be coming downtown. They’ll get a chance to see what’s downtown.”
Another development is the Georgia-Pacific plant under construction, and Jones said local governments should work to help retain existing industries and lure new ones.
Crime was a big issue in the 2019 Albany City Commission and mayor’s races, and Jones said he sees economic development as a way to help address the issue in the long-term.
“I think if we can get some of these folks employed and working, bring them back into the community, that will help,” he said. “We need some youth development programs to start up. Like the 4-H program is going to have to step up and start teaching life skills. We have to have quality youth-development programs.”
For District 1 County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins, keeping the county on a firm financial footing is a primary goal.
Sales tax collections have recovered since the Great Recession of 2009, and Hudgins says he hopes that the tax digest will grow, which would allow commissioners to meet some goals without raising property taxes.
“I hope that our revenue stream continues to grow, which would allow us to give pay raises and do other things we need to do,” he said. Raising taxes “is off the table, as far as I’m concerned.”
Hudgins said he also would like the state to work on collecting taxes on internet sales. When an out-of-state company makes a sale without collecting taxes, it affects local establishments, he said.
“That hurts your people in the community who have (invested in) buildings and employees,” he said.