HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Six months into his tenure, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says he’s amazed at the progress he’s seen since taking office.
“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have a long way to go,” Williams said. “But we’ve accomplished so much more than I think any of us expected in the first six months.”
Williams began implementing changes immediately when he took office in January. The first order of business was a hiring freeze. The freeze has since been lifted, but Williams said the purpose was simply to get a handle on where things were.
The city finished the fiscal year $1.5 million in the black.
The mayor says he was also proud the city has cleaned up thousands of properties around town. The effort is fueled by two key ordinances he managed to get through city council.
One ordinance is a “junk ordinance” which bans any inside furniture outside of a home. The second ordinance gives teeth to the city law which requires property to be mowed and kept neat.
Furthermore, the city has settled labor agreements with the AFSCME union of city workers and with the city fire fighters union.
“The days of hearing people say, ‘Well, Huntington is having trouble financially,’ are over,” Williams said. “Get over it. Everybody is having a tough time financially, it’s our job to find out how to provide services with the money we have.”
Williams said his plan was rigid and strict and, fortunately, all of his administrative officials have bought into what he wants to do. Other than the fire chief, he replaced nobody in the city administration and said he’s most proud that every leader in the city has bought into his plan.
“You have to have a clear vision and a firm hand. You have to make sure you are operating things fiscally in a responsible manner,” he said. “You do that and people will understand what you’re attempting to do and they will sign on. And they have.”