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Gainesville mayor delivers upbeat state of the city
Dunagan says finances on sound footing
Danny Dunagan2014

Gainesville has come a long way from the depths of the Great Recession when the economy tanked and projects screeched to a halt for lack of money, Mayor Danny Dunagan said during his State of the City message at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Dunagan reported that the city’s finances are on sound footing. He attributed the gains to a “conservative approach” to budgeting and revenue forecasting that has fueled an ambitious capital improvement program for construction and engineering projects.

The mayor said an expanding tax base has helped strengthen the city’s strong credit rating, which in turn allowed a number of water and sewer bonds to be refinanced at lower interest rates. Dunagan said that resulted in savings of $8 million on the remaining life of the bonds.

“Sales tax revenues are at historic highs,” Dunagan said. “These revenues have been earmarked for public safety improvements, traffic improvements, stormwater control, a youth sports complex and a renovated Senior Life Center.”

Over the past year, Dunagan said 12 new and expanded industries have created 370 jobs and pumped more than $74 million in new taxable investments into the local economy.

“As 2017 gets underway, we are on the verge of completing a number of projects that will bring a positive impact on our city,” the mayor said.

Dunagan praised the work of its public safety personnel.

He said the Gainesville Police Department received re-accreditation for the eighth time by meeting hundreds of state standards, while the fire department responded to 8,400 calls and are equipped and trained to provide life-saving emergency medical services.

Pointing to the city’s “priceless” resources — greenways, parks and Upper Lanier Water Trail — along with a thriving downtown that drew more than 100,000 visitors to the square, Dunagan said tourism generated $9.1 million in local tax revenues.

Dunagan thanked the work and dedication of the city’s past and present employees for helping make Gainesville a place people want to live and work in.

“The signs of Gainesville’s success are everywhere, especially in the people I mentioned here tonight,” Dunagan said.