A technical glitch meant that the July 15, City of Hinesville Council meeting didn’t get livestreamed until the majority of the meeting was over and the Councilmembers were presenting their individual reports.
During Councilwoman Diana Reid’s report, she asked City Manager Kenneth Howard about the status of a request she has previously mentioned regarding a method for City employees to express themselves. Reid has been concerned about the heavy turnover of employees recently.
“I want to hear what your staff has to say,” she said. “And I don’t want them to feel like they would be retaliated against. “A way for it (complaints or views from employees) to come in and to come out to you and our City attorney. This is something I’m passionate about.”
Howard agreed saying, “We have been working on developing a process which employees would have an opportunity to have some input into the decision-making process,” he said. “One of the things we have done is we solicited some assistance from the Carl Vinson Institute. I met with Mr. Eric Robinson and this week we presented an outline to our staff. The department heads were given an update on the approach. And the approach is simple and will allow us to address both internal and external customers. Meaning we have a responsibility to provide services to both…but most importantly it will help us initiate and cooperate a process by which an employee can do just as you say, that is to have some input.”
Howard said a drop-box, as Reid suggested, would be a component of that process. Howard said the training is one facet of the process to ensure departmental consistency on how they would respond to information they receive from employees.
Reid asked why they needed Carl Vinson Institute.
Howard said they have the expertise to facilitate what the City is trying to accomplish. Howard said they also solicited input from other cities who have said Hinesville could become the model approach that could be used across the state.
“We are taking a methodical approach to something that could be beneficial to the City of Hinesville and the employees as well,” Howard said.
“Mr. Howard with all due disrespect that sounds good, but that is not what I had in mind,” Reid said. “I wanted something in-house, something simple. I don’t need nobody to train me to write down how I feel.”
Reid opposes paying Carl Vinson and just wanted something as simple as a complaint box.
“You spending money for what?” she asked. “To train people to write down how they feel? No that’s not what I had in mind. I just wanted something simple to help curtail some of the exit interviews. That is where this all started from”
Reid asked City attorney Linnie Darden if an elected official owned property that was going to be developed or re-zoned, would they need to disclose that to the public. After a little back and forth Darden said he would recommend that an elected official disclose the information and recuse themselves from any votes on the matter. He later said he would advise any appointed officials to also disclose the information.
At which point Howard turned to Reid and asked if she any questions for him.
“Is there an answer you want to give me?” Reid replied.
Reid and Howard have clashed in previous meetings. Reid told the Courier she was the only councilperson that voted against City Manager’s recent pay raise.
Reid also asked Donita Gaulden, Community Development Director how the applications for America Rescue Plan funds are being handled. Reid said people are complaining about no one answering the phones and unknown statuses of their applications. Gaulden said they are turning applications around fairly quick and applicants are notified by phone or email. Councilman Karl Riles said he would like the City to offer paper applications for the people who might not be computer savvy. He also requested the City provide documentation on the applicants at the next council meeting.
Reid concluded her report saying she would get with City officials later about a mini-town hall meeting.
Councilman Keith Jenkins was unable to attend the meeting however, the Mayor and Council unanimously approved the followings items as outlined in their minutes presented to the Courier:
They approved the 2021 Georgia Municipal Association Safety and Liability Management Grant Application as presented by Gaulden. The funds will allow the Hinesville Police Department to devices, which will improve the Department’s ability to capture video and audio data. HPD is requesting $10,000.
The HFD requested $10,000 to purchase two Zero Downtime Fans that will evacuate smoke and harmful gases from buildings or structures that firefighters may enter.
Assistant City Manager Ryan Arnold’s request to declare six City buses that are more than 10 years old, as surplus was approved.
A request was approved for the Hinesville Area Arts Council for an alcohol license to serve beer during the 17th Annual Blues, Brews, and BBQ event.
They also approved the request for an alcohol license to serve beer during the Annual Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament and another request from the Chamber for an alcohol license to serve beer and wine during the Low Country Boil event.