Chatham County Commission Chairman Pete Liakakis’ 2009 Inaugural Address


Pete Liakakis
Pete Liakakis

Citizens of Chatham County, honorable local and state elected officials, jurists, Chatham County staff, visitors and guests. On behalf of my fellow members of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, welcome to this 2009 Inauguration. For the first time in memory, the entire board of commissioners has been re-elected to continue to serve the people of our great county of chatham.

This unprecedented election is both a blessing and a challenge. A blessing because it recognizes the excellent job done by each commission member for the past four years. A challenge to not just match what we have done but to exceed it in the four years which start today. I speak for us all when I say thank you for the blessing and likewise for the challenge. We will not disappoint you.

Personally, as I enter my second and final term, I am envigorated by the challenges that lie ahead. “lame duck” is not in my dictionary. It is not my style. You can expect me to work harder and better for you all.

Four years ago, we inherited a ship floudering financially and in dire need of a new compass of leadership to set a course for financial stability. This commission steered a new course through prudent planning and a strict adherence to financial policies grounded in fiscal discipline. Our investment paid off-not just on our word but also on the words of those who oversee our financial condition. Less than a month ago, our independent external auditor declared chatham county to be in the best shape financially of this entire modern era. Furthermore, the national financial rating agencies which determine the health of private-sector companies and public-sector organizations rewarded Chatham County with an upgrade in its bond rating to AA. These recognitions can be attributed to this commission’s understanding that the county’s financial condition serves as the backbone of our ability to provide quality services to citizens and our county staff in sharing this ideal and its professionalism in helping to advise and guide the commission in its mission.

But the sea is getting rough ahead of us, and we need to made certain we trim the sails and batten down the hatches to weather this economic storm. A downturn in the economy, coupled with the downward push of services at the federal and state level, leaves local governments as the backstop. We recognize these tough times require tough decisions. By taking the steps we took over the last four years to improve our financial condition and put in place the structure for community problem solving, we could not be better prepared for the economic times ahead.

Protecting the public safety has and will continue to be job one for this commission. Chatham County continues to support the Chatham Savannah Metropolitan Police Department by providing significant resources to support the fine work of chief Michael Berkow and the men and women of the department.

Within three years, the expansion of the detention center will be completed and the additional jail cells will add meaning to the backstop of the criminal justice system. This project will present a financial challenge because of the increased funding which will be needed to operate and maintain the expanded facility.

Commission Chairman

Pete Liakakis’ speech will be continued in next week’s

edition of the Tribune

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