Tyrone officials review 2012, look ahead to 2013

Mayor Eric Dial of Tyrone. File photo.

The year has all but wound down and 2013 is just around the corner. For Tyrone, the town’s financial position could hardly be better. Providing a look at some aspects of 2012 and providing a glimpse into 2013 were Mayor Eric Dial and Town Manger Kyle Hood.

What is arguably the biggest story on the year in Tyrone is the town’s firm financial setting. The Town Council in 2012 adopted a measure requiring that 13 months of operating capital be maintained in reserve. The move was nothing new, in some respects, since the town has a history during the past few years of maintaining a high reserve balance.

Keeping more than a year in readily available cash may not be considered relevant in times of plenty, but such is not the case in the recession that never seems to end. Tyrone saw the need to bolster its reserves early in the recession. Cost-saving efforts by elected officials were not without struggle, but in the end those efforts paid off and the town is likely in as good or better financial shape than any municipality in Georgia.

That said, Dial noted that the expenditure of funds for future municipal needs such as those involving infrastructure will have to be rolled into the capital improvement plan. Such an action could lead to new public works projects that cannot be readily funded by county or state sources.

Another change during 2012 came in municipal administration with the hire of Kyle Hood. Though he began his job as Town Manager just a few months ago, Hood said he was aware of many town issues earlier in the year through media accounts.

As for his brief time as town manager and what he thinks so far, Hood said, “It’s been everything I imagined. The job is challenging and rewarding. And it’s a change of pace (from the more rural Upson County).”

Police Chief Brandon Perkins for nearly a year held a dual role, managing the town’s administrative affairs while serving as police chief.

One of the most significant events of the year, Hood said, was the local election cycle.

“The local election was significant because it got a lot of people engaged,” he said.

Hood said having newly elected Fayette County Commissioner David Barlow residing in the town helps Tyrone “have a seat at the table.”

And Hood said that, in 2013 he expects the town to increase its participation with the county commission, the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and the Fayette County Development Authority.

Notable during 2012 and still unresolved was the lawsuit brought by several Southampton subdivision residents over the rezoning effort that led to a proposed gun shop and firing range to be located in the Southampton shopping center on Ga. Highway 74. Residents for several reasons objected to having a gun shop located in the retail area.

“It’s out of our hands and in the court system,” Dial said of the issue. “It’s saddening to me that our community preaches a desire to see business come in, and when we’ve got a business waiting to come in we do everything we can to run them off.”

Fresh on the minds of many in Tyrone is the still-unsettled issue of the possible closure of Tyrone Elementary School. The school is one of several up for possible closure by the Fayette County Board of Education that is facing record-breaking cuts forced by several years of spending more money than the school system generates combined with millions in falling revenues from state and local funding sources.

“If that school closes it presents serious problems for the way we currently function,” Dial said.

Hood also weighed in on the topic, saying that “businesses have come and gone, but the school is anchored to this town.”

Hood in looking to the future said he would like to see the town continue its non-traditional public service efforts through community volunteerism.

“That includes finding other volunteer initiatives that will stir interest and benefit the community, including the interest of people from other communities,” Dial added.