At the Oct. 15, Hinesville City Council meeting City Manager Kenneth Howard reported that the Governor had decided to use COVID-19 funds to offset unemployment taxes at the state level. That means local cities expecting more COVID-19 relief funds would be left high and dry.
“We received a call yesterday from GMA’s Executive Director,” Howard said at the meeting. “The Governor has decided to use the remaining funds of the CARES Act to offset unemployment payroll taxes.”
Howard said it meant the City would not be receiving roughly 5.2 million in COVID relief funds.
“We received a letter in July of this year stating that local government would get 45 percent of the allocated amount from the state which came to roughly 1.2 billion dollars,” Howard said. “We got that first 30 percent and we were anticipating two more phases of those allocated amounts and we are not going to get those now. But we understand the need, but we are disappointed that it comes at the expense of local government.”
Howard said due to the pandemic environment the Governor had to borrow roughly 1.5 billion dollars to pay unemployment taxes from the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust fund and the Governor intends to replenish those funds.
In August the City did receive the first $1.7 million from the state which was quickly spent to reimburse funds used by the City for coronavirus related expenditures. The city was expecting to reimburse more expenses with the second $1.7 relief fund check and made plans on how to utilize the last $1.7 million.
Due to the Governor’s announcement the City had to go back to their 2020 and 2021 budgets to reallocate funds and adjust expenditures.
During the meeting Mayor and council approved amendments to the 2020 General funds budget and later adopted the City’s fiscal year budgets for the General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, Capital Project Funds and Enterprise funds for fiscal year ending October 31, 2021. The FY 2021 budget was for $44,564,134.00.
Mayor and council also discussed keeping the millage rates at 10.5 mills due to the uncertainty of impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Keeping the millage rate at 10.5 would increase property taxes by 2.97 percent.
The City plans to hold two public hearing on the millage rates on Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The third hearing will be on Nov. 19 at the regular council meeting and place the millage rate on the agenda as an action item.
Mayor and council approved the 2020 update to the Liberty County Joint Comprehensive plan which includes the expansion of broadband and preparing for 5G towers.
The Council and Mayor approved a bid to McLendon Enterprises to install the gates that are on site and were purchased as part of the last Hinesville Pump Station (HPS) Upgrade project in 2017 but were not installed. The City undertook a project to install a new 24” force main to the Ft Stewart Plant and upgrade the Hinesville Pump Station in 2017. The HPS modification project involved repairs to the structure and modifications to the pump station that included removal of the existing influent gates. The new gates were purchased and stored at the site but not installed. The bid was for $47,263.00.
Mayor and council approved the purchase of a generator at the Airport Road Well. The old generator failed around January 2020. Requests for proposals were sent out in September for bids to be received by October 8, 2020. The bid was awarded to from Energy Systems Southeast LLC, Atlanta, GA for a Generac System at a cost of $58,714.00.
Mayor and Council approved to authorize Kimberly Ryon, Kenneth Howard Sarah Lumpkin and Donita Gaulden as the four authorized signers for Rapid Re-housing and Homeless Prevention initiatives funds that were awarded to the City. The award amount was $84,000. The City was not awarded funds for Emergency Shelter assistance.
Mayor and council approved increases on water and sewer impact fees that will slowly go into effect the next three years.
The City’s meeting book with all documentations and budget information can be downloaded below.