Southsider Voice correspondent
When more residents and business leaders are involved with their community, they help governmental leaders improve that area’s quality of life.
That was the fundamental belief expressed by Jesse Testruth in his State of the City address Tuesday night.
“Our city has moved forward in the last three years. I, as your mayor, am proud to serve the city of Southport and her residents,” he said in his closing remarks.
Beginning his first term in 2012, Testruth successfully has involved more and more residents in city events as the municipality builds for the future. “Southport residents are very clear about what concerns them: They want a government that can work together and focus on providing basic city services.”
Testruth said he believes that’s exactly what his administration has done and strives to accomplish.
With an annual budget under $1 million, the city recently completed the Anniston Street project and began improving McLaughlin and Pine streets. The city is seeking grants to help fund a $1.5 million improvement to South Street in 2017.
“Southport road conditions and storm water drainage needs are at a critical juncture,” Testruth observed. “Many of you (who) walk your dog, bike or drive in the city are familiar with the crumbling streets and sidewalks. The longer we wait to address infrastructure of our city needs, the higher the cost to fix it.”
The Board of Public Works and Safety is at the beginning stages of working with the Marion County Storm Water District for a permanent fix for Southport’s stormwater system.
Testruth proudly announced that Southport became the first municipality in Marion County to receive the Clean Community Challenge designation. “We can now be known as a Green Clean City,” Testruth said. “Our signs will be posted this spring.”
The fiscal policies of Testruth and the five-member City Council have been without frills.
“Make no mistake, balancing the budget in a way that protects basic city services is among my top priorities,” Testruth said. “We will continue to work tirelessly to find savings.”
The city has formed an Economic Development Commission to go with an active Redevelopment Commission that envisions a revitalized Southport Road (from Madison Avenue to Derbyshire Road) as the gateway to Southport.
The Police Department has added two new leased vehicles and four new bicycles for added patrols.
Testruth sees a close-knit community with neighbors who know each other. He contends that neighbors can be helpful, especially during weather-related emergencies.
The city is prepared for emergencies through its Police Department, Citizens Emergency Response Team and Neighborhood Watch programs.
“Getting to know our neighbors, lending a hand and sharing our knowledge and skills to help our community are the keys to a better Southport,” Testruth said.