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City looking at budget shortfalls
Hinesville City Hall
Hinesville City Council meets in City Hall at the corner of Commerce Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. - photo by File photo

When Hinesville Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Ryon reviewed financial statements during last week’s city council meeting, she warned the mayor and council dire financial reports are likely still to come. 

“These are as of March 31,” she said. “And I know that I don’t have to remind you,  but for the record these financials are reflective of the very early stages of the pandemic and the closures related to that. They are going to represent a little bit better picture than you might expect.”

Currently the city brought in roughly $11.6 million in revenue and spent around $8.5 million. However, Ryon said the city’s expected to show more losses in the future due to not collecting late fees for late payments on certain services, the extended deadlines for fees on other services, and the non-collection of municipal citation fees since March. 

Ryon said city workers have tightened their belts. 

“We’ve put a purchasing freeze,” she said. “We are paying close attention to all our expenditures and purchase orders and we are questioning, a little bit harder, and holding the line just because we are not sure what our revenue is going to take us. We are trying to plan for what we don’t know.”

Also at the Thursday, May 21 meeting, which was streamed on Facebook:  

City leaders reviewed a potential new telework policy that could be implemented during times of national emergencies

The policy would only apply to city employees and would be at the discretion of individual department heads. City Manager Kenneth Howard said the policy is aimed doesn’t replace current city worker rules, but “rather is designed to facilitate the performance of City business in alternate work locations.”

The telework policy would allow Howard as city manager, with consent of city council, to activate and deactivate the policy during a city, state or national emergency. The policy has detailed guidelines on who would be eligible for telework, work schedules, travel policy and equipment required to perform job functions. 

The entire proposed policy is posted on our website, under agenda item 15.2a.

Howard also reviewed potential return to work guidelines the city plans to take when the city reopens for business in line with Gov. Brian Kemp’s mandates. 

Under those guidelines, various departments will provide workers with personal protective equipment appropriate to their job. Mandatory physical distance will be accomplished through staggered shifts, rotating weeks of remote work and in office work, increasing distancing between employees by moving furnishings and workstations and implementing one-way traffic patterns throughout workplaces.

The policy also said no more than 10 individuals will be in an area at one time, physical contact like handshakes or hugs are prohibited and employees are to wear PPE when engaged with the public or exchanging money and documents. 

In addition, no one will be allowed to enter City Hall without a temperature screening. The policy also includes guideline for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces and equipment.

The entire proposed policy is posted on our website, under agenda item 15.3a.

Under action items, council approved the renovation of an old laundromat building at 315 West Memorial Drive. The building is being renovated as the future office of Donovan’s Rehabilitation Building for Children. During an April 22 meeting a recommendation was made to revisit final approval to allow revisions to the plan to be ADA compliant. The new revisions were approved.

Awarded the low bid from Sikes Brothers of Metter to complete roadway improvements included in the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant for 2020. The amount awarded was $531,359,05. The first 12 projects funded will be: Elizabeth Street, Caroline Street, Adams Court, Oakview Street, Fritts Court, Bradwell Street, Desert Storm Drive, Barley Drive, Sandy Run Drive, Pineview Street, Star Court and Fraser Circle.

Approved to submit a grant application in the amount of $35,434 to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, on behalf of the Hinesville Police Department. The Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. The program provides funding to assist eligible units of government in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus. The Hinesville Police Department will use the funding to purchase traditional personal protective equipment and innovative prevention and detection equipment to prevent the spread of COVID 19 and ensure safe interactions between staff, detainees, and members of the public. Equipment includes an ultraviolet portable air and surface sanitizer with nine replacement lamps, infrared thermometers, gloves, reusable face masks, coveralls, spit hoods, portable hand washing station and other items. 

Approved a new off-premise consumption alcohol and beverage license for Lucky’s Foodmart at 743 E.G. Miles Parkway, Suite A. They approved a new off-premise consumption alcohol and beverage license for Jay Vashudev & Company Inc. at 241 Memorial Drive but later reversed their decision when it noted the business does not meet the minimum separation requirements from church, school and library.

Assistant City Manager Ryan Arnold recommended council accept $2,343,112 from the Georgia Department of Transportation for operational and capital expenses associated with providing public transportation and authorization to execute any related award documents. Arnold said Hinesville received notice it will get the funding from GDOT in April as part of the CARES act.

The award provides operating and any remaining capital and planning funds at 100 percent for the period of January 20, 2020 through June 30, 2020 and funds the entire FY 2021 contract at 100 percent for both operating, capital, and planning for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

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