Hobgood gave his annual State of the City address during the City Council meeting Thursday night and praised the city’s progress in 2013 while laying out a “vision” for 2014 and beyond.
“There’s no doubt that the state of our city is improved and improving,” the mayor said before those in attendance at City Hall. “A special part of the state of the city is a state of mind: our vision, our optimism, our excitement about the future and the level of confidence and trust our citizens have for their city government.”
According to Hobgood, the city’s recent accomplishments, at least economically, are evident in the numbers.
“It’s true that our local economy is improving,” he said. “If you look at our 2013 economic indicators, they showed a very strong improvement over 2012.”
The improvements, Hobgood said, include a 61 percent rise in single-family building permits, a 14 percent uptick in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues and an 11 percent hike in hotel-motel tax collections.
“All these are indications that our city’s financial and overall economic climate is improving,” he said. “These positive factors will certainly help our city continue to meet its vision in the future.”
The mayor also noted that the city’s long-term debt is decreasing and, as of Dec. 31, sat at $41 million, which was more than $20 million lower than it was at the beginning of 2008.
“We are at least getting it to a manageable level,” he said.
Hobgood said his vision for Canton in the future is a “broad-brush” vision of a walkable city with superior services and a low cost of living.
“My vision is all about the opportunities that we as citizens of Canton deserve and desire and are willing to pay for,” he said. “Our city is the county seat and the heart of Cherokee County. We must lead the way and set an example for other cities. … My vision does not include perfection by any means or idealism, but you have to strive to be the best. You can only become what you can visualize. And we’re moving in the right direction to achieve that vision.”
The mayor said with the help of the sitting city council, his vision for Canton will begin to develop.
“We have had some very good council members in the last six years that I’ve been mayor, but I truly must say that today we have the best overall council that we have had since my tenure began,” he said.