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Commissioners hope plans improves service
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On a majority vote, Liberty County commissioners contracted with the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute to research and implement a strategic plan designed to help county offices better serve residents.
Commissioner Pat Bowen voted against the contract.
Work on the strategic plan, which was first heard by commissioners at their July 6 meeting, would cost approximately $39,600, County Administrator Joey Brown said. That cost should cover mileage and lodging incurred by Fanning Institute staff who will assess county offices.
The commission also approved a resolution authorizing Brown and Chairman John McIver to borrow funds to supplement county revenues to pay legal obligations. The resolution states the board can select a financial institution to apply for a loan of up to $1 million.
Brown emphasized that approving the resolution does not mean the county will act on it. Rather, it is a precautionary step the county has made for several years while waiting for millage rates to be set and for late tax revenues to be received.
“Hopefully we wouldn’t have to use the loan. We wouldn’t actually get the loan now,” Brown said.
He added that he expects to receive a preliminary tax digest from the county tax assessor’s office within the next two weeks.
In other meeting news, Ron Tolley, CEO of the Liberty County Development Authority, presented a proposal to have Tradeport East designated an opportunity zone under the state’s Job Tax Credit Program.
Tolley explained that the designation would help the county better compete with other counties when pursuing potential employers and creating jobs at no cost to the county.
“This differs from what we’ve had in the past, in that it allows a credit against the payroll tax,” Tolley said.
The county’s past designation as Tier I under the tax credit program has been modified to Tier II. With an opportunity zone designation the job tax credit for qualifying businesses within the county would increase by $500, he said.
“We are requesting the commission adopt a resolution that designates the LCDA board as the opportunity zone board at the Aug. [18] meeting,” Tolley said.
If the commission approves the resolution, the application would be in the name of Liberty County and be signed by the commission chairman, said Anna Chafin, LDCA director of marketing and research. The work putting the package together would be carried out by the LCDA and Industrial Developments International, which has built a speculation building in the park.
Commissioner Eddie Walden asked if other industrial parks such as Tradeport West and Hinesville Technology Park could be included in the zone. Tolley said the designation depends on adjacent census tracts showing the area meets a requirement for having a nearby population that is at 15 percent of the poverty level or greater and also meets private investment criteria. Currently only Tradeport East meets these requirements, he said.
Additionally, Hinesville Technology Park already receives a credit of $3,500 because it is near a less-developed census tract, Chafin said.
Tolley also asked to use money from a county revolving loan fund for construction of a small road at Tradeport East, benefitting traffic to and from Firth Rixson. The road would extend from Firth Rixson to Sunbury Road in a right-turn-only configuration.
The LCDA requested $45,000 in the form of a grant, to be expended before the end of September. Approximately $42,000 remains in the revolving fund, and the LCDA is continuing to make payments into it, at about $2,700 a month, through the end of the year.
“The commission has a revolving loan fund to lend out or use as a grant, and we’ve done both,” Tolley said.
Commissioners approved a motion that the grant be extended in an amount not to exceed $45,000.
The commission will meet again at 5 p.m. Aug. 18 in the county courthouse annex board room.

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