Not only has Robert McKay has lived in Ashville most all of his life, he’s given nearly half of it to public service in his city. Now, as he’s bearing down on birthday 62, he’s stepping away from his role as mayor and preparing himself for the next chapter.
Effective march 31, Mayor McKay will resign. He announced the decision during the St. Clair County’s Economic Development Council Breakfast last week at Ashville City Hall. His decision completes his 15-year tenure as the city’s head, and a 27-year career spent in service to Ashville.
“I turn 62 in March, and it works out best me to retire.” he said. “It’s not that I don’t want the job or that I’m tired of it, it’s just that financially at this time it’s the best thing for me.”
McKay was born in St. Clair County in 1962 and grew up in and around Ashville. He attended Ashville schools up to his graduation in 1971, and from there he went to Birmingham for work with the state prison system.
In the late 1980s, McKay ran for Ashville City Council and won, and about the same time, he found a position managing the local American Legion. He’d keep his job with the Legion for the next 25 years, and in that time he was reelected twice to the Council. Then, in 2000, residents of Ashville elected McKay as mayor.
Since he started on the council in 1988, McKay has seen the city’s annual budget increase from $351,000 to $1.5 million. He’s seen the construction of top-quality civic facilities and the completion of massive infrastructure projects. As he leaves, he said Ashville was poised for even more growth.
“I really believe it,” he said “Growth comes about slowly, but if you look back at old photos of the road to the interstate from my first year in office you realize how much we’ve really have had. Tax revenues have doubled since 2000, and in the next 10 years I think growth in Ashville will be significant.”
Overall though, McKay said he felt his greatest achievement in preparing his city for the future was the arrival of full-time fire protection. The city used grant funding to launch the Ashville Fire Department and when the grant ran out, the city had the funding in place to continue providing the service.
Since then, McKay said the fire rating in the city has dropped from an 8 to a 3, lowering insurance costs for residents.
When March closes, McKay said he’d continue with his other work — driving a school bus for St. Clair County Schools. He started driving as a substitute when his son was playing football, and he said he enjoys it. He’s also going to continue his business, Max Clean LLC, and spend more time with his family. McKay is married to Gina, and the couple is her raising two sons. He also has a grown daughter, Shannon, and two granddaughters.
McKay said the Ashville City Council would be making a decision about who would serve as interim mayor until the next election.
“I have so much appreciation for all the people of Ashville for all the years they’ve supported me,” McKay said. “ Most people saw me grow up or grew up with me, and they kept me in this position as l wanted it.
“I did my best. I didn’t make everybody happy, but I certainly always tried to help and I certainly didn’t try to hurt anyone. Overall, I’m just grateful, and I want everybody to know I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be around.”
A retirement party has been scheduled for Mayor McKay in Ashville on March 24. For more, call Ashville City Hall at (205) 594-4151.