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Council votes to leave millage rates unchanged
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The Hinesville City Council held its November meeting Thursday, hearing informational items on several subjects and agreeing to several action items, including adopting the millage rate for the 2011 tax digest and developing a program to educate the public about how to reduce the mosquito population.

The first item on the agenda was a Liberty Transit System update from transit coordinator Rachel Hatcher. Hatcher discussed changes that had been made to the bus routes, covered shelters at bus stops and results of a survey previously requested by the council.

District 4 Councilman Keith Jenkins asked about the possibility of reducing transit services to downtown routes where only a few people are riding the bus in order to increase service to Airport Road, where he said he often has seen young women walking toward Savannah Technical College’s Liberty campus.

"We need to support young people in our community trying to get a better education by providing a safer means for them to go to school," he said.

City Manager Billy Edwards reviewed the current 2010 tax digest and five-year history of levy, then the council approved to adopt the proposed 2011 millage rate, keeping it at 9.5. He noted that Hinesville’s millage rate has stayed at 9.5 since 2007.

Other action items before the council included approval of a peddler’s license to James Weathers for Eichers Pro Vinyl and Roofing. The license was approved on condition that Weathers’ salespeople would carry the city-issued identification card and that no one would solicit door-to-door sales before 10 a.m. or after dark.

Alcoholic beverage license renewals were approved for nine Hinesville businesses for off-premise consumption and two businesses for on-premise consumption.

A request by Anita Rosen, owner of Tekilla Rose, for a refund of her 2011 license fees was denied. Edwards stated the applicable city ordinance section that allowed the city to deny refunds for a business that fails to open, then the council voted to deny her request.

Similarly, a request by Al Hutto, owner of Gilley’s Country Western Club, for extending operating hours on New Year’s Eve also was denied based on city ordinance.

Two Community Development Department items were approved by the council, including an application for a Georgia Recreational Trails Program grant of $100,000 for the Bryant Commons project and an application for an Amerigroup Foundation grant of $5,625 for purchasing mental-health counseling services for 15 homeless families.

During public comments, Hinesville resident John Brayley addressed the council in response to a request by another Hinesville resident, Johnny T. Howard, who last month had requested a citywide ban on pit bull terriers.

"I think that’s wrong," Brayley said. "It’s not the dog’s fault; it’s the owner’s fault. Instead of considering banning a breed of dogs, you should be banning the bad behavior of some dog owners who let their dogs run loose."

During his report, Mayor Jim Thomas invited the public to attend the Mayor’s Thanksgiving Program at 6 p.m. Sunday at Fort Stewart’s Main Post Chapel. He said funds from this year’s program would be used to help the homeless.

He also announced that Hinesville was to receive a certificate of achievement from the Georgia Financial Officers Association and that the Department of Homeland Security was awarding the Hinesville Fire Department a $10,000 grant for its hazardous-materials team. A date soon would be set to officially recognize the award and grant, he said.

During his report, Jenkins expressed concerns about the mosquito problem in his district. He had invited Kenna Graham and Gregg Higgins of CH2M Hill to explain what Hinesville residents can do to help control the mosquito population.

"Any container that can hold water can produce mosquitoes," Higgins explained. "Open bottles and aluminum cans in ditches are a source for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. The best way to control the mosquito population is to limit the sources where they can lay their eggs."

Higgins and Graham recommended roadside cleanup of trash, which not only provides a place for mosquitoes to lay eggs but also tends to back up storm drains, causing wetlands that produce mosquitoes. They also suggested people look around their neighborhood for other mosquito-producing sources, like children’s swimming pools and overflow dishes under potted plants.

Thomas thanked the men for their information and suggested the council find a way to educate the public through neighborhood watch programs and visiting local schools.

The next city council meeting is Dec. 1.

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