Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques said “The year 2013 far exceeded our hopes, and dwarfed the successes of the previous year,” during his address Monday at the Woodstock City Council meeting at the Chambers at City Center.
“Last year, I said in the introduction of the State of the City that no matter what form of measurement you utilize, 2012 was the best year on record for quite a while in the city, that the pendulum had swung to the positive after five years of economic downturn,” Henriques said, “I’m pleased to say that 2013 was an extremely successful and even award-winning year for the city of Woodstock.”
The Woodstock Police Department responded to 31,000 calls in 2013, Henriques said.
The mayor said the city saw a 6 percent decrease in what are considered “major crimes that are tracked by the FBI.”
Violent crime down by 57 percent from 2012, and down 72 percent compared to 2011, he said.
The Woodstock Fire Department responded to more than 4,300 calls for service in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012, Henriques said.
Of those, most calls were from within the Woodstock city limits, but firefighters also responded to calls in other parts of Cherokee, representing 28 percent of the calls, he said.
Henriques noted there were 501 new residences added to downtown in 2013, including 93 single-family homes and 308 apartment units added at Woodstock West by Walton Communities.
There were 301 new single-family residence permits issued in Woodstock in 2013, a 26 percent increase from 2012, and nearly three times the number of permits issued in 2011, he said.
“It was a busy and successful year for downtown” Henriques said.
Suring the course of the year, 179 new businesses opened, creating 1,291 new jobs in the downtown development authority district. Net job creating for downtown in 2013 was 1,278 positions, the mayor said.
Henriques said 100 of the 102 tenant spaces at the outlet mall were occupied.
As far as finances, the city’s general fund ended fiscal 2013 with a surplus of $1.59 million, with revenues topping out at $14.753 million, Henriques said.
Combined revenue in 2013 increased by $1.8 million over the previous year to total $28.1 million, Henriques said.
The city’s financial department was awarded a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers’ Association for the 20th consecutive year, Henriques added.
“In December 2013, Standard and Poor’s raised the city’s bond rating by three notches from an ‘AA-’ to an ‘A-’,” Henriques said. “The city is headed in the right direction.”
Woodstock Parks were awarded national accreditation, one of seven cities in the state to earn this level of recognition, Henriques said.
“The 16th annual summer concert series was a tremendous success,” Henriques said.
Attendance for the 2013 series is estimated at 40,000 people.
Henriques said he was especially proud of two awards from 2013: the city of Woodstock and Walton Communities were honored at the Atlanta Regional Commission’s annual State of the Region breakfast as joint-recipients of the Development of Excellence Livable Centers Initiative Achievement Award in recognition of the Woodstock West community; and the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta was selected as the 2013 retail deal of the year, at the annual Atlanta Business Chronicle’s best Atlanta real estate awards.
“While we have accomplished much, there is still more to do in the coming years,” Henriques said.