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Grants received and projects completed made 2019 a good year for the municipality, City Manager Elizabeth Borstad said.

Borstad led the City Council through a review of the 12 month period on Monday. One notable achievement, Borstad said is that the city claimed a total of $1,129,500 in grant funding while providing only $96,000 in match money.

"I don't anticipate that we'll be able to receive that much each year, but this has been a very good year for us," Borstad said.

The grants include $500,000 FAST funds from the Texas Department of Agriculture, which is being used to buy a fire truck, The Texas Water Development Board, $300,000 in principal forgiveness for a water project, Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant $275,000, and $45,000 from the Texas Homeland Security Program.

"This is just outstanding," Mayor Monte Montgomery said. "It's good to see it on paper."

The city reduced outstanding debt by $5,387,371.59, while increasing the General Fund Balance by $1.301,290. The emergency reserve was expanded to $2,315,571 which is enough keep the city running for 75 days. Meanwhile, the council was able to lower the tax rate by .5 cents.

Borstad said public safety advancements were made by purchasing two fire engines at a total cost of $806,425 and beginning an emergency radio upgrade at a cost of $111,000.

Several improvements to city streets were accomplished in 2019. The seal coat program covered 2.5 miles of pavement during the year, while 1.5 miles was paved at a cost of $325,000. The Carroll Street Drainage Program totaled $175,000.

Upgrade efforts continued at Athens Municipal Airport. A white paper, detailing the planned expansion of the facility was submitted to Texas Department of Transportation Aviation. In addition, a $1,456,940 rehabilitation of the existing runway was done with 90% of that money coming from TXDOT.

Capital projects in the utilities department included construction at the Loop 7 water tower, costing $349,230, replacement of a trickle filter at the North Waste Water Treatment Plant, at a price of $270,783.

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