More turn lanes onto – and off – busy Highway 84 are among the transportation projects included in Hinesville’s portion of the 2020 TSPLOST budget.
City council members discussed the projects at their October meeting.
Among them are turn lanes from 84 onto Frasier Drive and another to MLK Jr. Drive. Widening of South main street from Ralph Quarterman Drive to Kacey Drive, a traffic signal on Veterans Parkway where Lowe’s and Walmart meet, and a left turn onto 84 from Memorial Drive and an improved right turn lane from Gen. Screven Way onto 84 with funding coming from the Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax.
Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard told council members 30 percent of TSPLOST has to be used for “state sanctioned” projects, and the rest will be divided between the cities.
The estimated cost of the projects is $16.9 million, according to the city.
In other business:
Hinesville also rolled its millage rate back for the fourth straight year, to 10.5 mills.
The city’s 2020 budget shows a $20.8 million general fund, a water and sewer fund of $20.9 million, and a solid waste fund of $3.2 million. The city is budgeting $1.45 million for Liberty Transit.
It will also extend the city’s Summer Youth Program an addition week, from five weeks to six. And, Hinesville Police Department has a new bike patrol force.
Seven officers are so far “ready to go” according to HPD Chief Bill Kirkendall. The new patrol force was premiered during the Scarecrow Stroll and is set to appear at the Christmas parade. Kirkendall said the bike patrol will be valuable during popular events where police cars normally cannot enter, and will also be used to patrol neighborhoods that have “crime trends.”
The Hinesville City Council was informed of several projects planned with the 2020 Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) budget. Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard stated that 30 percent of the TSPLOST must be used for state sanctioned projects. This money would be taken out of the top portion of the funds, with the rest being divided up into other “governmental entities”. With that being said, there are five proposed transportation projects.
Turning lanes are expected to be added to Highway 84, one when turning onto Frasier Drive and another when turning onto MLK Jr Drive. Work to widen a section of South Main Street will continue, with construction going between Ralph Quaterman Drive and Kacey Drive. Future road work is being considered on Kacey Drive. A traffic signal will be placed at the road cutting across Veteran’s Parkway which connects Wal-Mart and Lowe’s. Research has been done justifying its demand. The Memorial Drive left turn onto E Oglethorpe Highway is set to be extended. Screven Way’s right turn onto Highway is also to be widened so traffic isn’t backed up.
Aside from these TSPLOST projects, for the fourth year in a row, the millage rate has rolled back. The rollback is of 0.20 mills from the 2018 tax digest rate making the current millage rate 10.50 mills.
City Council approved the Budget Resolution 2019-30. The budget was discussed in half day budget workshops on September 9, 11, 24, and 27 of 2019 and at the Oct. 3 City Council meeting. The summary of the FY 2020 budget both revenue and expenditure wise is as follows:
General Fund is $20,844,716; multiple grant funds is $1,534,797; hotel/motel tax fund is $177,625; Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) is $414,164; water and sewer fund is $20,855,398; solid waste fund is $3,241,954; Liberty Transit is $1,145,190; and storm water utility fund is $1,587,274.
The budget sets aside a Current Year Operating Reserve of $100,000 and also includes a change in Fire Department in the form of a part-time student worker.
The budget also includes the extension of the City’s Summer Youth Program to six weeks as opposed to the previous five weeks. The 2020 budget also includes pay for crossing guards and part-time employees for the longevity increase that was given to the City’s full-time employees during the 2019 fiscal year. The increase only applies to two employees however according to City of Hinesville official documents, and the change will be effective Nov. 1, 2019.
Towards the end of the meeting, it was stated by Kenneth Howard that an employment discrimination complaint was issued against the City by city employee Danyell Barboa. The complaint was based on sexual harassment claims and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Councilmember Diana Reid was disgruntled about finding out about the complaint via sources aside from her fellow Councilmembers and claimed she wasn’t made aware of the complaint until hearing about it “in the streets” and in the news. Reid challenged if this was how things were to be done amongst the councilmembers. It was later decided after much discourse that the conversation would continue behind closed doors.
Finally, the Hinesville Police Department will be establishing a new bike patrol force. Seven officers are so far “ready to go” according to HPD Chief Bill Kirkendall. The new patrol force was premiered during the Scarecrow Stroll and is set to appear during the Christmas parade. Kirkendall stated the bike patrol will be valuable during popular events where police cars normally cannot enter, and will also be used to patrol neighborhoods that have “crime trends”.