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County to apply for housing grant

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POSTED: July 28, 2014 12:57 p.m.
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The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission office is on Court Street, just east of the courthouse.

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The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission’s governing board met Wednesday to discuss health-insurance plans and hear a presentation from Hinesville Assistant City Manager Kenny Howard on the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing.

LCPC employee insurance
LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson informed the board that Hinesville recently saved a significant amount of money by switching insurance providers, prompting Ricketson to look into other insurance options for LCPC employees.
Currently, the LCPC spends $59,808 annually for its Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. Ricketson compared this with quotes of $23,352 from Starmark and $37,500.48 from Cigna, although the plans were not equivalent in terms of deductibles and premiums.
Ricketson asked the board for permission to further research more cost-effective insurance plans for LCPC employees. The board unanimously approved the request, and Ricketson will present his findings at the board’s next meeting.

GICH initiative
Howard presented the board with an overview of the GICH before asking whether the municipalities would consider applying as a county.
Started in 2005, the GICH is a three-year program that “helps communities create and launch a locally based plan to meet their housing and revitalization needs,” according to a slide from a GICH informational webinar.
Howard explained that participation in the GICH would provide an overarching housing plan for Liberty County as a whole as well as specific housing-needs plans for each of Liberty’s seven municipalities.
According to the webinar slides, the program includes two annual retreats, which offer workshops facilitated by experts in various aspects of community housing issues.
The program also includes coordinated tours of other cities throughout Georgia that have participated in the initiative, which Howard said he has participated in before. He said Hinesville’s Azalea Street project was an amalgamation of several other projects he observed through these tours.
Howard also informed the board that Liberty County would be the first community to apply for the GICH as a consortium, rather than as individual municipalities.
“This approach is very different,” he said. “There is no model that we could emulate … this hasn’t been done in the state, where you have all of the community come together and say, ‘We all want to go in with one application, and we want to become a GICH county.’”
The board was unanimously in favor of pursuing the GICH, and Howard said he would put together the letter of intent, which must be filed by July 31. The formal application is due Sept. 5.
“As a community, we can do a lot more,” Howard said. “As (Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine) Washington said, ‘If one community looks bad in the county, it’s reflective on all of us.’”

 

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