The Hinesville City Council heard a report Thursday on the Liberty Transit Strategic Study that detailed county-wide needs and recommended strategies.
Rachel Hatcher, planning director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission reported that ridership still is low but growing, and even though route deviation is available, it’s not being used, and there is a lack of accurate information getting to the public. However, survey showed that 67 percent of those responding wanted transit service to continue, with 66 percent wanting services to expand. There was criticism about the revised schedule, especially dropping Saturday services.
Hatcher said the cost for running the Liberty Transit System for fiscal year 2013 is $340,094, with existing services continuing until Feb. 2013, followed by reduced services until Oct. 2013.
Council members expressed concerns about the study’s findings, with some asking about changing particular routes, which Hatcher admitted she could not answer at that time.
City Manager Billy Edwards told the council it only needed to approve the study results as evidence that the city is serious about improving the transit system.
“Gentlemen, I need guidance from you before we enter into further, detailed negotiations,” he said. “Are we heading in the right direction?
The council members agreed and approved the study along with a recommendation by Mayor Jim Thomas that they hold work sessions early next year about the study’s recommendations.
Also Thursday, the council recognized the Long Time Coming Ryders Auto Club for making donations to the Homeless Coalition. Club President Antony Walthour told the council his nonprofit organization donated canned foods and clothing to help the homeless.
The council also heard from Daisy Jones, homeless prevention coordinator, about the city’s participation in the 2013 Statewide Homeless Count. She said the city would be helping the county with the pre-printed surveys from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Her office had received at $450 grant to execute the plan.
A presentation on the Hinesville Market Analysis by Vicki Davis, executive director for the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, was re-scheduled for next month. Thomas said the postponement was necessary due to the nearly one hour used to discuss the transit study. This would allow Davis sufficient time for the presentation, he said.
Edwards added that he would ensure her informational item was at the top of the agenda for the Jan. 3 meeting.
The council approved the proposed use for the fiscal year 2013 Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant to be used for road repairs on South Main Street and Memorial Drive.
Mayor Pro Tem Frasier also wanted to thank the Hinesville Police Department and the Coastal Courier for informing the public about the increase risk for crime during the holidays, urging everyone to be extra vigilant.
Edwards concluded the meeting with a request to allow HPD Chief George Stagmeier to begin the process of filling a vacancy created by the pending retirement of HPD Lt. Max McLendon. Accordingly, the position would be filled internally by promoting a qualified sergeant, with that position would be filled by a qualified corporal and so on. When the process reached a point where a new officer would need to be hired, Stagmeier would return to the council to ask permission to fill that vacancy, in accordance with the budget agreement not to fill employee vacancies until approved by the council.