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ST. MARYS — As his sixth week in office draws to an end, St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan briefed members of the St. Marys Rotary Club on his goals and aspirations for the city.
McGowan talked about the city’s strengths and weaknesses as well as some looming financial issues. One of the city’s biggest assets, he noted, is its financial footing.
“The city is blessed with its finances,” McGowan said. “Overall we are in good shape.”
McGowan said the city’s workforce is also one of its biggest assets. McGowan praised the work of department heads, including Interim Safety-Service Director Craig Moeller, for making the transition a smooth one.
“The managers are excellent,” McGowan said. “The people who go out and do their job day after day are really good people who try to help the citizens of St. Marys.”
While the overall health of the city’s finances is good, McGowan said two funds may need attention in the future.
“The general fund, which we operate the city and pay the police force and fire department is what I call the overhead,” McGowan said. “Also the water fund. Although it’s healthy today, what we are going to have to address in the next 15 years is building a new water plant and that’s going to be expensive.”
McGowan also touched upon the hiring of a new safety-service director. After taking office, McGowan made replacing former Safety-Service Director Tom Hitchcock and Development Manager Todd Fleagle his top priorities.
“I think it’s a real opportunity for the city of St. Marys to get some new eyes in and take a look at some of the issues we have,” McGowan said. “We’ve narrowed that down and we hope to have someone on board by a mid-March time frame.”
One of the weaknesses McGowan said he identified is what he called a “passive approach” to business.
“I came out of a sales and marketing background ... And you don’t get that kind of business on the books because the sales cycle is three to five years,” McGowan said. “You don’t get that waiting for them to come to you. You have to go out and get them. I want to get more aggressive in that.”
Improving the city’s relationship with the various lake development groups is also among McGowan’s goals. He said building strong relationships with those groups is critical toward helping heal Grand Lake St. Marys.
“What I’m trying to do is build a better, closer working relationship,” McGowan said. “As a result of having one of the DNR meetings, they let us know about a grant and to a minimal cost to the city of St. Marys we can push the towpath out to Glynwood Road that would be paved with crushed stone.”
McGowan also talked about the different revenue-generating funds in the city. He noted while the electric fund may carry a large balance, that money can only be used in the fund and cannot be transferred to another.
“It’s against the law, you just can’t do it,” McGowan said. “Even though you have a lot of money in some departments and short in others, you just cannot use that money.”