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City eyes paying off city hall, new fire station with SPLOST

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POSTED: April 9, 2014 3:00 p.m.
Photo by Randy C. Murray/

Hinesville Mayor James Thomas, center, reads a proclamation recognizing Month of the Military Child on Thursday at city hall. Thomas was joined by community members and representatives of civic organizations that support military families.

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Members and officials of the Hinesville City Council had a full day Thursday, including a planning workshop, proclamation signings and a council meeting.
Their busy afternoon began at 1 p.m. with a planning workshop to discuss and prioritize projects that would be paid for with a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax — if the measure passes in November. City Manager Billy Edwards said city and county leaders have to agree on and establish a list of priority SPLOST projects.
“We anticipate entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the county,” he said. “We have to have our list of capital projects before the November elections. What I thought we’d do today is talk about the projects we’d want approved.”
Edwards began the discussion by suggesting the city use SPLOST funds to pay off or at least service the debt for the new city hall. The current payoff for that loan is about $5.8 million. Council members agreed but did not say whether they supported paying off the loan or just servicing the debt with SPLOST funds.
Another project noted was refurbishing or rebuilding Fire Station 1, which Edwards said was built in 1977. He said building a new station on the same site would require temporary relocation of fire trucks, equipment and personnel.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier asked if there was another site already owned by the city where a new station could be built. Edwards said the city does own other property, but nothing has been designated as a proposed site for a new station. He suggested a two-story plan would allow the station to remain in the same footprint with trucks and equipment stored downstairs and living quarters and offices upstairs.
“I really think we ought to just tear it down and start over,” Hinesville Mayor James Thomas said. “The old station is not designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. And refurbishing it could cost just as much as building a new one.”
Other projects discussed included a new entrance to Bryant Commons that will align with the entrance to Ryon Avenue, several roads, drainage and sidewalk projects, revitalization of Bradwell Park and a multi-purpose event center.
Assistant City Manager Ken Howard reminded the other leaders that the city and county have no facility large enough to accommodate a large number of people for a major event. He said he recently had attended a meeting in Atlanta with specialists who proposed a $5 million cost for an event center. Thomas suggested that figure probably doesn’t represent the costs for the land, landscaping, parking and operational costs. He suggested a more likely total cost for an event center was between $6 million and $7 million.
By 2:30 p.m., council members agreed to let Edwards establish a project priority list for them to consider and approve. Thomas and Howard then hurried to the Hinesville Room, where Thomas read and signed two proclamations, one for Fair Housing Month, and the other for Month of the Military Child.
Following the proclamations, they hurried downstairs to council chambers for the biweekly council meeting. Half of the 10 agenda items were information-only, including a presentation by the city’s public relations manager, Krystal Hart, who discussed 2014 Georgia Cities Week, set for April 20-26.
Hart said Georgia Cities Week is sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association to showcase the services and programs provided by Georgia cities. This year’s theme is “People, Place and Purpose.”
In other business, the council approved a petition by Dryden Enterprises to rezone 4.17 acres of land from single-family, two-family and mobile-home residential to planned urban development. Along with that petition, the council approved an annexation-ordinance proposal to annex a portion of that property from Liberty County to the city. The council also approved a new ordinance regulating recreational-vehicle parks in the city.

 

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