• 75°

Elizabethton receives Municipal League award for Excellence in Governance

CHATTANOOGA – Renovations to the city’s downtown; upgrades to city infrastructure, emergency and public works equipment; and expansions and improvements to municipal parks and recreation facilities are among the numerous accomplishments the city of Elizabethton has achieved through cooperation of elected officials, city administration, and city employees.

In recognition of the hard work put in by city officials to set goals and accomplish outcomes for better city services and infrastructure, the Tennessee Municipal League is pleased to present Elizabethton with an award for Excellence in Governance. The award will be presented Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at the 81st Annual Conference of the Tennessee Municipal League (TML) held at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

The combination of a forward-thinking mayor and council, a professional city manager, and hard work from an excellent city staff have helped Elizabethton achieve a wide variety of goals in recent years, many of which are set during the city’s annual strategic planning retreat. The strategic planning goals combined with a nearly unmatched commitment to successfully writing and utilizing grant funds has allowed the city to complete numerous projects for the betterment of the community.

One such initiative is revitalization of downtown Elizabethton, which has been anchored by a complete and transformative infrastructure overhaul. This renovation has led to numerous new business investments and an array of community events such as car shows, community concerts, and others that are bringing both local residents and visitors into the downtown area. Downtown Elizabethton has again become a focal point for community building.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials worked hard to ensure that the city could continue to meet the needs of the community. City officials successfully navigated the turbulence in the bond market in March 2020 to sell $4.25 million in bonds to fund city and school projects.

Additionally, the city began implementing an electronic agenda management software package for council meetings, increasing the efficiency of preparation, editing, production, and distribution of each agenda. A new automated utility bill payment phone system has cut down incoming calls by 40 per day, allowing staff to instead focus on other customers service needs. The city is also presently deploying a comprehensive software package to manage building permits and code enforcement matters, including online access for customers.

The city has made numerous investments in parks and recreation projects, including $1.8 million in renovations to the city’s Appalachian League Baseball Park, pedestrian crossing improvements to the Tweetsie Trail financed through a $500,000 multimodal grant, $78,000 in renovations to the historic Bonnie Kate Theatre in downtown Elizabethton, and a $90,000 investment in new playground equipment at Kiwanis Park.

For emergency services, the city has financed a $2.5 million renovation and expansion of the Elizabethton Police Department, a $200,000 investment to replace and integrate police records management software with Carter County, a $41,800 Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant financing the purchase of police car and body cameras, and the purchase of a $500,000 fire department pumper truck, financed partially through a USDA Rural Development Community Facilities grant. Elizabethton has also invested in local infrastructure such as a $500,000 CDBG grant to replace aging water lines and a $500,000 housing rehabilitation grant from the TDHA HOME program.

Several new projects are also currently underway for the overall improvement of the community. The city’s electric department is presently working on a $4 million comprehensive electric metering upgrade with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The city also received a $797,242 grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program and $500,000 from the TDEC Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant for rehabilitation and renovations to the city’s historic Covered Bridge Park. Another $140,000 Safe Routes to School grant will finance improvements to student and pedestrian access.

Each of these accomplishments would not be possible without the hard work put in by the mayor, city council, and city administrative team who work together to accomplish difficult and innovative goals for Elizabethton. By communicating well and working to ensure all parts of the whole are moving in the same direction, officials with the city of Elizabethton have been able to make a sizeable impact on their community.

Each year the Tennessee Municipal League honors cities throughout the state for overall excellence, improvement, specific outstanding programs, or department accomplishments.  Other award winners for 2021 include the city of Chattanooga for Excellence in Green Leadership; the city of Cleveland for Excellence in Police Services; the town of Dandridge for Small Town Progress; the city of Fayetteville for Excellence in Community Planning and Development; the city of Franklin for Excellence in Historic Preservation; the city of Hohenwald for Excellence in Fire Services; the city of Johnson City for Excellence in Public Relations;  the city of Kingston for Small City Progress; the city of Mt. Pleasant for Excellence in Strategic Planning; the city of Paris for Excellence in Parks and Recreation; and the city of Rocky Top for Excellence in Finance.