Editor, Over the last few issues, the Coastal Courier has printed letters critical of this administration. I felt that it was time to set the record straight on a few salient points.
There was a candidate forum at the Riceboro Youth Center (Sunday) to outline the problems faced by — and accomplishments of — this administration. This more-intimate setting would allow for more time for the citizens to meet with the candidates and discuss the issues.
Our goal is, wherever possible, to personally contact our constituents to discuss major projects completed during our tenure. Issues faced when this administration came into office and projects started and completed included, but are not limited to:
• There were delinquent annual audits and management reports for previous administration that demanded our attention and have been properly dealt with.
• The city increased revenue by making structural changes to billing and collections procedures.
• The city pursued and was awarded eight grants totaling $2.692 million for sewer connection on Barrington Ferry and Sandy Run Roads, completion of the master plan and a website, codification of ordinances and development of Historical Baptismal Site.
• The city obtained reduction in its Insurance Service Office rating, from 9 to 6, which resulted in a 15 percent to 25 percent reduction in homeowners-insurance premiums by investing in our fire service.
• The city pursued and obtained a $4.9 million grant and $2.4 million 40-year low-interest loan to expand wastewater-treatment facilities and add sewer lines on Briar Bay, Barrington Ferry and Shell roads.
• The city pursued and obtained commitments of $2.5 million in grants and a $2.49 million low-interest loan to construct a green well to provide water for our area and prevent the possible loss of 150-plus jobs in Liberty County and surrounding counties. (This project has taken six years to get to this point and will be one of the first in the state to comply with new state and federal water conservation initiatives.)
• The city is already engaged in addressing housing issues and business incubation.
• The city pursued and obtained a $62,000 grant and $100,000 Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan to automate meter reading.
• More than 2 miles of road in the city was resurfaced.
• The city acquired approximately 3 acres for future growth.
• The city initiated a summer youth program with an average yearly enrollment of 35 youth, who are paid by the city to work on job sites across the entire county, thus providing them workplace experience for participants.
• The city initiated GED classes with 80 attendees over a two-year period.
• Our expanded Ricefest (now the largest festival in Liberty County) is fast becoming the new homecoming date for many Liberty County natives.
The city of Riceboro has become a flagship sponsor of the largest back-to-school rally in the county and of the longest-running after-school (Riceboro community churches) program in existence in the county.
The elected officials and the citizens of Riceboro have been an integral part of a host of countywide initiatives, including the NAACP. The city of Riceboro has an excellent working relationship with two of the county’s major employers, SNF Chemtall and Interstate Paper. We frequently partner on numerous initiatives.
To all who work hard to make life better for our neighbors, “May the love of God bless you and keep you in perfect peace.”
Mayor Bill Austin
City of Riceboro