GALLIPOLIS — With the end of the year quickly approaching, two Gallipolis City Commissioners reflected on their service Tuesday evening at their last meeting as commissioners before January brings a new term for a new administration.
Commissioner Matt Johnson served two terms with the commission after taking office in 2010 and currently serves as a maintenance manager of a few Holzer Health System facilities. Commissioner Roger Brandeberry is a retired Gallipolis Police Chief and will soon be retiring as a probation officer with the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas in late January 2018. Brandeberry was appointed by the commission to fill a vacant seat in January of this year.
Both agreed that the greatest challenge the commission faced in their time serving was managing the city’s budget due to gradual financial cutbacks of state funding to local government.
“At the time (when Johnson first took office), I had no idea what goes in,” said Johnson about managing the city’s budget. “I had messed with small budgets but nothing compared to this and the impact that makes on the entire community, employees and what you can and can’t do. Everybody has grand ideas about what they want to do until they get hit with harsh realities that the dollar controls everything. Learning that and really trying to enact compromise, that’s the big part of (being a commissioner)… I think we’ve accomplished a lot of things. We’ve had some fights and fusses but we at least had dialogue and I think it’s made people more aware. Everybody talks about transparency…I think we’ve (the commission) done a good job of that.”
“The greatest challenge we’ve faced was financial,” said Brandeberry. “It was a unique thing for me because I’d worked with the city for many years as police chief, so I had an idea about the city budget. I had never looked at it from the perspective of a city commissioner, however. It was an enlightening experience, I thought…The biggest challenge was definitely financial with the drying up of state revenue…It’s disheartening to think if we don’t do something everything could dry up and blow away. That’s the challenge for the commission. You put band-aids on it to keep everything in place. I don’t know we have long-term fixes in place and I hope the next commissioners (can come up with long-term solutions to city financial problems). I hope the next governor will release some funds (for local government).”
Johnson said he looks forward to having Tuesday nights open again to invest in more personal activities. Brandeberry said he is unsure of what his future holds but that he will enjoy his retirement.
Brandeberry did not seek reelection. Johnson said there “were issues with documentation that could not be amicably rectified” in his bid for reelection. He said he was unsure if he would seek office again. Both commissioners said they looked forward to seeing the future of Gallioplis’ economic development and felt the new commissioners would do the best they could as they carried the torch into that future.
Beau Sang and Cody Caldwell will be sworn in as new city commissioners this January. Albert “Tony” Gallagher will also be returning for another term as a commissioner.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.