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City council discusses issues, concerns at yearly workshop
City council workshop
The Hinesville City Council held a yearly workshop last week to discuss upcoming projects and concerns. - photo by Lainey Standiford

The mayor and council members of Hinesville gathered in Savannah July 27-28 to discuss issues and potential projects at this year’s city planning workshop. Over the course of Friday afternoon, council reviewed upcoming projects, programs and policies in order to better the city of Hinesville. 

Subjects discussed included guidelines on board appointments, SPLOST VI projects and funds, salary, flooding issues in local neighborhoods, code enforcements, fines and forfeitures, a new youth council and downtown development.

All were present Friday morning except for District 5 councilman Kenneth Shaw, who is a first responder. City manager Kenneth Howard and city engineer Paul Simonton, with PC Simonton & Associates, also attended.

Council addressed board appointment guidelines for 29 organizations currently active in Hinesville. Councilwoman Vicky Nelson voiced concern that the board appointments should reflect the community and the districts. Currently, there are differences between boards, some with term limits of two years, and others with none.

The general consensus was to review the current list of boards, and adjust the term limits for board members to maintain equal representation.

“I can pick someone, but we need to make sure the people we are picking meet the criteria,” District 4 representative Keith Jenkins said. “Once the criteria is set, we have to honor it.”

In addition to board appointments, Nelson brought up the system for selecting department heads. 

“I’m just looking for checks and balances,” she said. “When we receive the applications, we need to have more than one person go through and check that these applicants are meeting the minimum qualifications.”

Council discussed possibly having a panel involved in the department head vetting process. Howard routinely recommends department head candidates to council for hiring.  

SPLOST VI projects and funding were a major talking point. Simonton took the lead, and walked council through projects lined up for the funds. Currently, the major project in the works is the expansion of South Main Street. With two lanes, the road becomes congested at peak times during the day, causing a lot of traffic issues, officials said. 

“In order to make that intersection work, we need to add lanes to keep the through traffic from backing up,” Simonton said. The solution: adding north and southbound lanes onto South Main to create a space for those turning left onto Eunice Road and Ralph Quarterman Drive. 

The original project began in the summer of 2010. The city planned a safety project along South Main by adding sidewalks and a curb and gutter between Second St. and Ralph Quarterman Drive. The budgeted amount from SPLOST for that project was $1.1 million. 

Since then, the project has evolved to include additional lanes on South Main, as well as an upgraded traffic signal at South Main Street and Veterans Parkway to accommodate new lanes and safety requirements.

“We had $1.1 million budgeted in SPLOST 6, and we’ve added $1.2 million to the cost in order to make improvements and improve traffic,” Howard said. “We’re working to get supplemental funding from GDOT for this project.”

Other projects on the radar include a proposed Southside Recreation Park with pavilion, walking trail, playground and skate park. The location remains undecided. It wouldn’t be an active park, Howard said, but it would be a place for people to gather, with other amenities determined by the community.

“We’ll get community feedback and then council can finalize the plans,” Howard said.

City salaries were the last item discussed Friday morning. There have been multiple conversations on various levels about salaries and employees, Howard said. According to Howard, a pay classification hasn’t been done in eight years. 

The city received cost estimates and project information on a proposed classification and compensation study, one from Condrey and Associates and another from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government with the University of Georgia. Such a study will examine salaries and job classifications. 

District 1 representative Diana Reid asked if there were procedures in place for merit increases. Howard responded that performance is taken into consideration, and that performance evaluation is only part of the process. Ultimately, the supervisor makes a recommendation to the department head, he said. 

Proposed classification and compensation studies come with a price point for the city. The Condrey and Associates study is estimated at $24,500. District 2 councilman Jason Floyd raised the question of where the funds would be coming from to pay for the studies.

 “If we decide we’re going to increase the payroll expense, we’re going to have to look for ways to offset that expense in other areas… all the department heads will have to look at this challenge as well,” Floyd said.

Council broke for lunch, and continued the second half of the workshop in the afternoon. The second part of this story will follow in Saturday’s paper.


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