The Hinesville City Council decided Thursday to use fifth brigade remediation funds to pay off debt and set the remainder aside for future projects.
Hinesville was awarded a total of $24,379,000 in fifth brigade remediation funds from the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment in September. The Hinesville City Council submitted its formal request for the funding in June.
Council members voted in April to pledge 75 percent of the remediation funds toward paying down the debt on the water reclamation facility. The city initiated several projects in anticipation of a fifth brigade, including the water reclamation facility, a water booster pump on Airport Road and repairs to Frank Cochran Drive. These projects were included in the city’s application to OEA for remediation.
"I recommend paying off the (projects) that we can and set some funds aside for those projects that haven’t started yet," Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said.Thomas said $18 million has already gone toward paying off debt on the WRF. He recommended $2.7 million of OEA funds pay for improving infrastructure on 15th Street and the remainder should be split between the Bryant Commons project and upgrades to the Hinesville/Fort Stewart Wastewater Treatment Plant. OEA did not place restrictions on how the reimbursement funds can be spent, Hinesville Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Ryon said.
The council approved the mayor’s proposal for disbursement of the OEA funds, but amended it per Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier’s recommendation. Frasier suggested the city continue to collect a monthly $1,000 infrastructure fee (for 15th Street). Hinesville has a benefited property owners’ agreement with Horsecreek Partners, Ryon explained.
Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards asked the city attorney to verify the city can still continue to legally collect the infrastructure fee.
In other city council business:
• City council members accepted Baker Infrastructure Group’s $1.5 million bid for the Bryant Commons detention pond. Baker was the lowest bidder among seven companies bidding on the project. Hinesville received a $4.6 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority to improve Bryant Commons’ pond and canal.
• The council accepted Kelly’s Clearing and Grinding of Richmond Hill’s $36,534.42 bid for grinding and screening organic debris. The service comes under the CH2MHIll/OMI sanitation department. The city’s budget had allowed $50,000 for grinding and screening, therefore the bid will come under budget, Edwards said.
• The council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday with Bryant Commons neighborhood residents to discuss the proposed amphitheater location and concerns of excessive noise. The meeting will be in the municipal courtroom on the ground floor of the Hinesville Police Department on MLK Drive. The city plans to develop Bryant Commons as a community park with an outdoor amphitheater, a 15-acre man-made lake, walking trails, a pavilion, picnic areas, a play structure and renovations to existing buildings. Edwards said the estimated $8 million project will be paid for with a combination of SPLOST funds and a OneGeorgia grant.
• A public hearing to gather public input on amending the city’s zoning code pertaining to tattoo parlors will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, in the municipal courtroom on the ground floor of the Hinesville Police Department on MLK Drive.
• Council members were informed city employees are scheduled to have a half day off on Friday, Dec. 24, and a full day off on Monday, Dec. 27, in observance of Christmas. City workers will also have a half day off on Friday, Dec. 31, and a full day off on Monday, Jan. 3, to observe New Year’s Day. Other city holidays include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving Day.