At the April Liberty County Chamber of Commerce’s Progress through People Luncheon, sponsored by ESG, Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown delivered his State of the City address to those in attendance, touching on the recent accomplishments of the city and council.
In 2018, the City of Hinesville filled several crucial positions, including that of city manager, assistant city manager, chief of police, public relations manager, community development director, director of inspections, and municipal court administrator, according to Brown. The city currently employs 204 full- and part-time employees in 11 different departments.
Brown then addressed the budget, which has increased less than one percent, and has remained “almost” 100 percent balanced. The millage rate is 10.7 mills, and has trended downward over the last few years, he said.
“We have the lowest city millage rate of other areas around us,” Brown said. The city also collected nearly $3.6 million in 2018 from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).
There was an 18 percent revenue growth from February 2018 to February 2019, and the city has granted 147 business license applications in 2018, and have approved 306 since January 2017, according to Brown.
Projects either upcoming, in progress or already completed include the Main Sidewalks project, which involves adding and updating lengths of sidewalks in major parts of the city, Brown said.
The city approved the addition of two bus shelters as part of the Liberty Transit System, and are currently going to begin work on the re-alignment of Ryon Avenue, Brown continued.
The Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) has the opportunity to generate upwards of 38 million for the city, and it does not include any additional funds received from the state, Brown added. TSPLOST funds go towards transportation-related projects.
Other accomplishments of the city included the completion of the water tower raising project. Three water towers in Hinesville were raised 34-feet, resulting in a water pressure increase for most residents in the city.
The Waste Water Treatment plant underwent a $22 million facility upgrade, and the Water Reclamation Plant is scheduled to undergo maintenance and change next, Brown said. They will be diverting the discharge from Peacock Creek to Taylors Creek, and the pump station needs upgrades to accommodate four million gallons going through the facility a day, instead of two, Brown said.
Upcoming projects include rebuilding Fire Station 1, located in downtown Hinesville, to provide more room to those administrative and firefighter positions currently housed in the old building, Brown continued.
The Hinesville Youth Council will begin in Fall 2019, and works closely in partnership with the Hinesville Community Development Department, the Liberty County Board of Education and First Presbyterian Christian Academy.
“I’m going to give councilmember Floyd most of the credit here,” Brown said. “We all wanted this, but he was really dedicated and made sure to push us until we got it done.”
A Small Business Incubator, a project that will work to support small business in Hinesville, is slated to house the following support services for first-time entrepreneurs, young companies and vendors: financial resources, technical assistance and technology infrastructure.
Key partners and factors for the project are: a $750,000 Economic Development Administration grant, an MOA (memorandum of association) with Georgia Southern University and support from the Hinesville Development Authority, according to the mayor.
Last week, the City of Hinesville celebrated Georgia Cities Week, highlighting the unique character of the city, in accordance with the theme: “Georgia Cities: True Colors,” a city news release read. Georgia Cities Week is sponsored by Georgia Municipal Association.
Events included Coffee with a Cop on April 23, where adults could have coffee with a Hinesville Police Department officer, and kids could meet officers, color pictures and meet McDonald’s Hamburglar.
The City of Hinesville offered tours of City Hall on April 24, and on Thursday, April 25, HPD spent the evening with kids at the Level Up with the Law event, held at Fang’s Island Food and Arcade. Kids were given the chance to play arcade games with officers from HPD.