A campaign promise to bring the community together is coming along, said Mayor Walt Cobb has he reflected on his first year in office.
“The morale in city hall and with the rest of the city’s workforce is better,” Cobb said Friday during an interview. “These things take time to build.”
Comparing this time with the previous terms he served as mayor from 1990 to 1996, Cobb said the job has expanded.
“I’m involved with much more detail such as working with the RCMP and in education and have a lot more input.”
Weeks after being elected, Cobb and the council directed the city’s CAO to eliminate eight positions to save the city money.
“It wasn’t easy for anyone and I decided I needed to be here to help staff as much as I could,” Cobb said.
Financial transparency and zero tax increases were also a priority for the mayor and council and as they work on the budget for 2016, they are keeping to those priorities.
“We are back agreeing we’re probably going to have a zero per cent tax increase,” Cobb said. “It’s tough out there for everybody.”
Council has also directed staff to decrease the operations budget by two per cent through efficiencies, and reduce capital spending by 10 per cent.
And those measures are to be made without laying anyone else off, he added.
“My hope is the world economy will turn around. Communities like ours that rely on forestry, mining and agriculture are all feeling it.”
At the same time while the opportunity for job creation is minimal in the resource industries, the main expansion of jobs has been in small businesses.
“Our council believes it’s important to protect our small businesses and make sure they are viable,” Cobb said.
Looking toward 2016, one of the priorities will be to pull local contractors together to create a community vision for development.
“Because of Woodland Drive and the fact people weren’t happy with the development planned there we felt it’s important to get everyone together,” Cobb said. “We don’t have all the answers and we need to know what our community wants to help create opportunities.”
When the new council was elected Cobb said it was obvious the public had elected a good cross-section of community leaders.
“It took us awhile to get to know each other, but I think we’ve pulled together. We’re coming at things from different avenues and sometimes don’t agree but the discussions are good.”
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Cobb joked that in some ways he’s a recycled mayor, which works well for a community that values recycling such as Williams Lake.