This week Dothan City Manager Kevin Cowper will complete his sixth month in the position, and despite a large learning curve, he has spearheaded several significant changes.

Several of the changes affected the city’s new biennial budget. He recommended that all solid-waste transactions be based in a separate fund, something that the city had not done before.

He also suggested the city’s capital plans expand to a sixth year, which allows officials to schedule major expenditures through three full budget cycles. Finally, Cowper also recommended meshing several reserve line items into one larger capital improvements fund in an effort to provide the city more flexibility.

Cowper, who began his career as a governmental planner, has also suggested other ideas that have been implemented or are in the process of implementation:

» The Commercial Development Incentive Program would offer sales tax rebates to businesses that successfully revitalize some vacant and/or dilapidated properties in the city, particularly near the downtown area. Cowper said Auburn officials implemented a similar program for the Opelika Road corridor while he served as an assistant city manager there.

» The Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority’s plan to install some vinyl murals on the former Porter Paint building on South Foster Street takes its cue from comments Cowper made, DDRA officials said during the organization’s Oct. 16 meeting.

» Cowper has also helped shape a public space use strategy that would formalize agreements that allow downtown merchants to use sidewalks in the course of conducting business. During an Oct. 15 administrative meeting, Cowper said an example of the agreement would be downtown cafes that provide outdoor seating. The agreement, which has yet to be ratified, would allow businesses to share sidewalk space as long as they provide adequate maneuverability as the Americans with Disabilities Act dictate. Businesses would also have to provide liability insurance and include the city as an additional insurer.

» Mayor Mark Saliba said Cowper also has plans to reshape the roles the community relations officer and the community relations specialist play within the city. This includes the creation of a department that coordinates development/promotional plans with other departments.

Halloween plans

The city of Dothan’s trick-or-treat hours will be Thursday from 5:30-8 p.m. The city will also conduct its second annual Fall Fling during the same time at the soccer fields near the Miracle Field Complex.

The Fall Fling includes a costume contest, entertainment and inflatable playground equipment.

Meeting schedule

The Houston County Commission will meet Monday at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Houston County Administration Building. The commission will make an appointment to the Houston County Department of Resources and adjust some positions at the county’s automotive shop as part of succession planning efforts.

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