Daily photo by Emily Saunders|
Alex Smith with magistrate Carla Kirkham as he pays his citation at the Decatur City Hall Municipal Court Office. Decatur Mayor Don Kyle would like to see a system set up to allow residents to pay parking ticket fines online.
Mayor touts Decatur's progress
City in 'great shape and just
getting started', Kyle says
By Chris Paschenko
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2442
Missing work to pay a $130 to $150 speeding fine at Decatur City Hall could be a thing of the past, Mayor Don Kyle said Tuesday during his State of the City address.
Lead-footed drivers paid 1,809 speeding tickets in 2006, according to city magistrate's records. Kyle said he favors allowing future violators the option of paying certain moving violations online through the city's Web site to avoid trips downtown. Some 3,875 traffic citations would have qualified for online
Daily photo by John Godbey|
A United Launch Alliance rocket is being loaded onto the Delta Mariner for transport.
payment if the idea had been implemented last year.
Kyle, following his introduction by Tommy Daniels, city president of First American Bank, highlighted the city's points of progress to 240 people who attended the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce's fifth-annual event.
Here are the highlights:
Decatur and Morgan County benefited from about $500 million in economic development over the past 18 months, Kyle said. Investments by industry, including Nucor Steel's $167 million plant expansion, led Gov. Bob Riley in 2006 to declare Decatur's leadership some of the best economic development officials in the state. Kyle, citing a confidentiality agreement, still isn't talking about a clandestine, industrial-recruiting trip to Austria in January, but he said walls are coming out of the ground at The Crossings of Decatur with Target as its anchor. Kyle said businesses and restaurants new to Decatur have expressed interest in locating near the 200,000-square-foot retail shopping center at U.S. 31 and Beltline Road.
Kyle trumpeted two measures, the United Launch Alliance and the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure project, as investments in Decatur's bright future. "The plant will be the only facility in the U.S. to build those kinds of launch vehicles," Kyle said. "That will mean significant economic growth to the city." Decatur and Morgan County officials have worked hard during BRAC recruiting trips to Washington, D.C., Kyle said. He based his remarks on comments from military officials, who appreciated how receptive and personable Decatur's delegation was. Kyle said it was a reflection on the community's hospitality and willingness to embrace newcomers.
Although daily commutes are short and quick compared to larger cities, transportation issues in Decatur have made headlines over the past year, including the planned extension of Interstate 565 into Decatur, the state's widening of Beltline Road from four to six lanes and the proposed Veterans Parkway. Kyle said the council approved a $60,000 expenditure to hire a consultant to study traffic patterns and reset traffic lights, so drivers will see more green and less red on U.S. 31 and Beltline Road. Planned access along the I-565 corridor could lead to additional economic growth for Decatur in Limestone County, Kyle said.
The City Council's emphasis on recreation is turning Decatur into a recreational tourism destination. Kyle said marketing the city and its recreational venues, like soccer tournaments at Jack Allen Recreation Complex, combined with skyrocketing attendance at Point Mallard's J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center, indoor ice rink and expansion at the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center, offers a quality of life unique to a city of 56,000. Tourism dollars also funded construction of Ingalls Harbor, which will host four major fishing tournaments this year, Kyle said.
The city's $16.2 million bond issue has added to residents' quality of life, funding $4.8 million for recreation venues, $3.9 million for three fire stations, $900,000 for the purchase of 40 additional police cars, and $2 million for street maintenance. "In the budget process, we plan to spend only what we know we collected last year," Kyle said. "And put the surplus in capital projects." A tight grasp of city finances, a reduction in personnel, and finding a different approach to the bond market have put Decatur, "in great shape," Kyle said. "And we're just starting."
Paying fines online
Some traffic citations issued by state police can be paid online. Decatur Mayor Don Kyle favors a similar proposal for citations issued by Decatur police. Here is a list of the top-five citations in 2006 that would have been eligible for online payment:
1,809 — Speeding
1,247 — No seat belt
263 — Running red light
199 — Running stop sign
96 — No child
- Source: City magistrate’s records
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