Reece gives final ‘state of the city’ address

Friday, December 14, 2018
Green Forest Mayor Charles Reece (second from right) is honored at his final council meeting Tuesday by alderwoman Joyce Kolb, city clerk Melea Fry, alderwoman Willa Kerby and alderwoman Pam Norton. Kerby presented Reece with a plaque recognizing his years of service as mayor.
Photo by Kelby Newcomb/Carroll County News

At the Green Forest City Council meeting Monday, Mayor Charles Reece presented his final “state of the city” address and reflected on his career as mayor.

“I’ve had many careers from the Navy to the CIA in Saigon to director of Red Lobster and president and CEO of 1776 in San Antonio,” he said, “and the job as mayor has been the most enjoyable and rewarding.”

Reece continued, “After nine years, I’m at the end of my tenure as mayor. A lot has changed since that first election in 2009. I think it’s no secret that council meetings just prior to my election in 2009 were pretty much a circus.”

He said the concept of the mayor-council form of municipal government had been lost.

“The mayor is the executive who runs the city day to day,” he said, “and the council is the legislative arm of city government. This is a fact and must continue. Otherwise, chaos will once again rear its ugly head.”

Green Forest is growing rapidly, Reece said, and the city has several projects moving forward, including the wastewater expansion, the completion of the new city hall, plans for a community center and improvements to city parks and infrastructure.

He said some citizens have asked why the city needs a new city hall, a community center and an expanded wastewater plant.

“Once the city outgrows all of the above, it’s too late,” he said. “You can’t just flip a switch and a new city hall will appear. When the wastewater plant is at 90 percent capacity, a fact which places a lid on future growth, it’s time for a new addition on that facility.”

Reece said the city will not be raising taxes to fund any of the projects mentioned.

“We discontinued the 3.5-mill city property tax and instituted a sales tax, which is a use tax,” he said, “with 2.5 percent of that sales tax dedicated to police and fire. That has enabled the city to upgrade and modernize our police and fire departments to a level never anticipated.”

As of Oct. 31, Reece said the city has $5,276,890 in cash, savings and certificates of deposit (CDs).

“Have we taken on debt? Yes, but we needed to do so in order to move into the 21st Century,” he said. “The city has several projects ahead, and we will move forward. Green Forest is going to be a dynamic force in Carroll County.”

Alderwoman Willa Kerby thanked Reece for his service and presented him with a plaque honoring his time spent as mayor.

“It’s with sorrow and regret that we watch Reece leave office,” she said. “He began serving as mayor in March 2010. There have been many notable changes since then, and these are because of Charlie’s leadership and his desire to serve and improve his boyhood hometown. We want to thank you, Mayor Reece, for your dedication, leadership and collaboration.”

Also at the meeting, the council voted to transfer $10,000 from the general fund to Local Police and Fire Retirement (LOPFI).

Reece also announced that city staff will be moving into the new city hall, which is nearing completion, some time between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at City Hall.

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