Being a college professor made it easy for Early Mayor Robert Mangrum to give his city a grade Friday.
“I'd say we get an 'A,'” he told the audience at the January Early Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “We have got a lot going for us.
“We are in great shape for a city our size. Early is a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
Mangrum gave his remarks as part of a state of the city address in which he could find few places to criticize. The one area that he said could improve is one faced by most cities.
“Our biggest challenge is paying for everything we want to do,” he said. “Paying for all those things and coming in under budget is tough.”
During the speech, Mangrum address the city's financial state and noted that revenues are up and a recent audit showed the city with a healthy 92-day cushion in its cash reserves. He also noted that the city recently had its rating upgraded by Standard and Poor's from and A-minus rating to an A rating.
“For a city our size that is phenomenal,” he said.
Mangrum said that sales tax revenue had also increased for Early and the numbers for the Christmas shopping season's sales tax receipts have yet to show in the reports.
“Next month and the month after should reflect the (holiday) season,” he said.
Mangrum echoed the report given last week by Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes and said that while the city's employment numbers have improved, it can be a “double-edged sword.”
“We are at about 5 percent (unemployment),” Mangrum said. “But, like Mayor Haynes said, that is good but might also worry some businesses about a big enough (employment) pool.”
He noted that these figures, like for Brownwood are better than the state as a whole and also best the nationwide figures.
Home sellers in Early have reason to smile based on the mayor's report, as well. According to Mangrum, the median price of a home sold in the city rose from $96,000 in 2012 to $125,000 in 2013.
Projects currently on the city's list gave Mangrum a chance to tell the audience about the improvements made during the remodel of the Early Police Department and City Hall building. He even said there was a room for him that was labeled “Mayor's Office.”
“I am the second mayor in the history of the city to have an office,” he joked.
Mangrum said the water pipeline project is approximately 65 percent complete.
“This time next year, we should be able to turn on the spigot,” he said.
In recent city council business, Mangrum said that two developers are vying for grant money to build apartment complexes in Early and one will get the funds. He said he wanted to make clear that this was not for subsidized housing.
“This will be nothing but good, affordable middle-class housing,” he said. “It is not low-income housing, it is not public housing and it is not HUD housing.”