Bill Floyd talked to Patch recently about his years on the Decatur City Commission. He was first elected in 1991 and began serving as mayor in 1998. Part 1 of the interview has already run.
As mayor, what are you proudest of?
I’m most proud that this is an incredibly well-run city, you know, a financially sustainable city. I think we do a very good job of spending taxpayer money on things taxpayers want it spent on. I get [fewer] complaints about taxes than probably anything. People will complain about the value of their house going up, and that can be a good thing. Taxes are like anything else you buy. If you don’t think you getting your money’s worth, then you paid too much. People in Decatur see that what they paying taxes for, they’re getting their money’s worth, from the schools right on down to the police, fire, everything.
What was your biggest mistake as a mayor?
(Sighs) There were couple of things I really wanted to pay attention to. These paper boxes that you see around, they irritate the crap out of me. I tried for years to get rid of those things. ... That’s a simple thing. I was never able to convince anybody that was a big thing. You know, There are a lot of things I would like to see happen but I don’t say they’re failures because if I can’t convince somebody else that it’s worth doing, then it probably wasn’t too good of an idea to start with.
Do you think the city should go to a popularly elected mayor? (The mayor is now elected by city commissioners.)
Yes, without a doubt. I was not able to convince people on the commission of that. … I don’t know that Decatur needs it as much for itself as for the region. Decatur is the only city in the metro region that still does it the way we do. … Because of the influence of the mayor of Decatur and the role the mayor of Decatur plays in the region … that person needs to be somebody who is dedicated to that job and people of Decatur get a vote for. It’s important to have somebody they see as their representative. Basically what I’m elected to do is chair meetings. That needs to change. The people of need to vote for the person they want to be the mayor of their city.
Do you think this annexation that was recently approved will ever become a reality?
I think it’s got a good chance at some point in time, maybe not this year. I think it's inevitable that even DeKalb County at some point will realize that it’s better for those community hubs to be part of the city of Decatur than they are in DeKalb County. If you ask the county commissioners and the CEO realistically can they can control those hubs better than we can, the answer is they can’t do it. We can.
Do you have any final words you want to leave with the people?
The one thing I’m most confident of is that Decatur is primed to move forward in the next 15 to 20 years. We’re in good financial shape; we’re in excellent position of having physical facilities developed. We’re working on public works, the rec center will open in a month or so, getting ready for police, we’ve done all our fire, and we’ve done parks. As far as infrastructure goes, we’re getting ourselves in very good shape.
I believe Decatur’s next 10 or 15 years will be better than the last 10 to 15. We have a number of development projects that you’ll see start in the next 12 to 18 months that will increase the number of residents in the downtown area. I think developers realize this is a place people want to be.
I feel good that Decatur has a lot of quality people that are ready to step up and do their part. That’s one reason I feel pretty good about the timing of this.