ATHENS–Athens Mayor Monte Montgomery outlined municipal accomplishments and future plans as the March 7 speaker at Athens Rotary Club, saying the city has its first balanced budget since his 2017 election.
Montgomery, an Athens native, previously served five years on city council and is seeking another two-year mayoral term this May. “It’s been a privilege to give back to the community that gave me so much,” he said.
During Montgomery’s first term as mayor, he said the city eliminated high levels of haloacetic acid in the municipal water system by adding well water to its Lake Athens supply in conjunction with Athens Municipal Water Authority (AMWA). The acid is a byproduct of water disinfection.
Montgomery stated those wanting to be on meeting agendas to fully discuss topics no longer must be sponsored by the mayor or a council member (as opposed to public comments, during which officials are limited). The mayor also said previous power of city staff to change ordinances for typographical errors or omissions has been eliminated.
The Athens mayor also said the practice of outsourcing city inspections, which he called “really expensive” and “inconvenient for builders,” has stopped with the hiring of an in-house inspector “to make sure our projects are delivered in a timely manner.”
An eastern portion of the city had low water pressure because of a leaky wastewater treatment plant, Montgomery said. Its permanent fix, forecast to cost millions of dollars, was accomplished for about $500,000, he said, attributing those savings to city manager Elizabeth Borstad, who has a civil engineering degree.
Montgomery also lauded the city’s Economic Development Corporation and said Athens is poised for further growth because of its geographical location between the metro areas of Dallas and Tyler.
Athens also is seeking grants to replace fire equipment, for utilities and park improvements, and to build sidewalks from downtown to Walmart and an elementary school. Montgomery stated his “100 percent” support for the Cain Center with hopes of a successful funding package and said the Texan Theater was “probably not” being utilized as much as hoped but that it’s “still early.”