Conflicts of Interest….
“When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads.”
― Ron Paul
Recently, several articles about conflicts of interest, have been hitting the political pundit’s websites;
is a very interesting article about conflicts, the appearance of conflicts, and the problems that they cause at the state level. I have no idea if any of the legislators mentioned in this article truly have some ethical conflicts with their businesses doing business with the state or not, but they should each either QUIT doing business with the state or QUIT their legislative positions or post their own article describing why THEIR situation is not a conflict. While we all should be innocent until proven guilty, politicians have a bad enough rap without doing ANYTHING to damage their (or the entire group’s) reputation.
Any politician needs to be extremely careful about even the appearance of a conflict of interest. I was maintaining the city’s website and charging them around $1,000/year. They were my client, before I got into politics. But once I became a city councilman, I stopped charging the city for maintaining their site. I probably COULD have kept charging – as long as we bid out the contract and as long as I recused myself from any discussions or votes, but I thought it best to just not charge the city. So for almost a dozen years, I did the city website for free – saving the city and citizens thousands of dollars.
Later on, as a conflict arose between a local business owner and the city of Hawkinsville (on a very unrelated matter), a particular businesses owner ACCUSED me of having a conflict of interest. She thought I was getting paid to do the city’s website. She had not bothered to ask anyone. That particular business owner posted on Facebook (July 25, 2014) (with a picture of me), “How in the h*** you is the one doing the website for hawkinsville and you on the commission broad the one of the to decide which person get the job if you are on the broad are have friends are family on the broad you should not get the job it wood not be fair to the people the one how broad on it and did not get it because they do not have friends on the broad or family” (all grammar and spellings were as posted, not mine)
This particular business owner even posted this to 11Alive Newsroom’s Facebook page! She had not bothered to CHECK to see if there was a conflict of interest, she just assumed. But as politicians, we need to go the extra mile removing even the appearance of a conflict. (After I sold my website company, the city and county are now getting the Regional Commission out of Macon to maintain their websites.)
I challenge all of my colleagues to go the extra mile and remove any and all appearances of conflicts. Let’s put our constituents first and our private businesses second.
What are your thoughts?
My TOP Goals for 2016 for the City of Hawkinsville
- Continue the downtown beautification efforts.
- Refund our dilapidated housing efforts. (We previously identified 106 structures that are dilapidated, blighted, and past the point of repair and are unlivable. Due to previous efforts, 42 of these structures have been torn down – most without any tax dollars. We need to continue this push, but a budget item must be funded for the few cases where the CITY has to tear down the structure (subsequently putting a lien on the property to recoup those dollars)).
- Prepare a balanced budget that does NOT raise our citizen’s millage rate. (We have managed to keep our millage rate at the same rate for over 20 years).
- Continue to improve and market our Hawkinsville Harness Training Facility.
- In conjunction with DDA, I would like to see the city purchase a vacant downtown building, fix it up, and rent it to a new business (even at a reduced rate), with the understanding that after one year, the business would either purchase or begin paying market rent. If purchased, we would use those funds to do another, and then another, and then…..
- Continue to work to improve the River Market and the River Walk.
- Continue to work with our partners at the Arts Council to better promote and utilize our Historic Opera House.
- BRING IN INDUSTRY in our industrial park.
- BRING IN ANOTHER GROCERY STORE.
- Continue to help grow our existing businesses.
- Continue to help lead with GMA (Georgia Municipal Association) in helping forge state and federal legislation as it deals with cities. (and stopping the influx of unfunded mandates).
- Improve our airport.
- Resurface more streets within our city.
- Modernize our software system to allow for direct drafts and debit cards.
- Increased usage of Social Media by both myself and the city as a whole.
- Begin working on our next SPLOST planning to include more recreation on this side of the river. (new post coming soon on this)
- Begin working on our next SPLOST planning to include the new City Hall.
- Continue to look for grant opportunities to help us with our aging infrastructure.
- Continue to work with the county on doing a better job of tax equity between the City and County and the continued consolidation of services.
- Expand and maintain our city cemetery.
- Expand our Natural Gas Capacity.
This is not a complete list NOR is it in priority order.
What do YOU think we should add to this list? I would love to hear YOUR concerns….
Let’s work together….
One of the main complaints of any government (local, state or federal) is that they are non-responsive. I have personally experienced that often. However, I want to try to help that on a local level. As you drive around our city and see things that you think the city should improve on…. Let me know. There are things that we can’t do, such as STATE ROADS, or things that we simply do not have the resources to do. But let me know about them and I’ll do my best!
Contact me via TWITTER (@shellyb), or facebook (shellyberryhill) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Or comment to this post. I will at worst, shoot straight with you and let you know the status! Pictures of the issues are always appreciated as well.
It Takes A Village…..
Over the last couple of years we have seen LOTS of improvements at the Lawrence Bennett Harness Training Facility. The City of Hawkinsville has hired a new track manager, Jim Valiente, and have strived to give him the people, tools, and resources that he needs to make this facility a success. Even on the years that it has not been a financial success, the facility still brings much recognition to Hawkinsville. We are known throughout the state for this unique asset. But for many years, we have seen declining revenue and an aging facility take its toll.
This year, again primarily to Jim’s recruiting efforts, we are expecting around 220 horses to be housed and trained at this facility. We are expecting more events that ever to take place at our Arena. Much good is happening.
And even better, we are really seeing support from our community in helping us with these efforts. Recently, Donna Rickerson, our Chamber of Commerce Executive Director painted a Surrey mural on the building in the center of the facility previously known as the track Kitchen. She has also had multiple tour groups from around the state out checking out this facility. Also our chamber, along with Lee Slade, our local economic development person, helped us secure a $12,500 matching grant in order to improve some of our bunk houses.
The latest group to join these efforts is “Lisa’s Chics”. Lisa Chics (Bobbie Clemons, Donna Clark, Wendy Gordon, Angela Mimbs, Deborah Reneau) is a helping hands organization formed in 2011 that assist those in need of helping hands with medical expenses and other hardships. We were formed to originally provide a fundraiser for their friend, Lisa Hatcher Neal, who was battling cancer. They held their first bake sale in her honor. She charged them to continue to help others as they did for her during her illness and for them to continue to do so even if she did not survive her cancer. They have honored her wishes and have held baked sales and other fundraisers to help others in and around our community that need a helping hand. They were given the opportunity in 2015 to take over the sponsorship of the Harness Festival Pageant for a fundraiser for their group which has enabled them to assist and reach more people in their efforts. They donate 10% of their proceeds to the Hawkinsville Chamber Harness Festival; provide a $250 scholarship for the Miss Harness Festival Queen; make a Relay for Life donation to Team Lisa Hatcher Neal and utilize the remainder of the proceeds for their helping hands outreach. Their latest effor has been to help restore/renovate the former “track kitchen.” The City agreed to supply the paint and supplies, but this group supplied the important part – the labor. (The were assisted by the 2015 Harness Festival Queens: Reese Folds, Summer Sinyard, Kinsley Smith, India Cheek, Addye Williams, Briana Conner, Ashley Gidney and Skylar Fisler.)
This group held a reception for the horsemen in April 2015 and immediately recognized that the area/facility needed some TLC if it was going to be a place the horsemen and community could utilize in a better fashion. Chelsea Tyner (a City of Hawkinsville employee and past Chair of the Chamber’s Harness Festival Committee) posed the idea to Jim Valiante that the group wanted to take on the task and Mr. Valiante was most receptive to the idea of the spruce up. So the project began….
The chics and harness queens have cleaned out and painted the kitchen and community room walls; pulled up the carpet and painted the community room floor and hall floor. They have cleaned the kitchen and bathrooms. They will be providing new curtains and decorative items for the community room and kitchen area. They will be also purchasing a new screen door for the kitchen. They will supply a minimal amount of landscaping in the front of the building once the area is cleaned out some. Donations of landscape product and labor are welcomed…
The City is also providing the prison detail to help with pressure washing and painting the outside of the building. The final piece of the puzzle will be to have a new fence and welcome sign and erected in front the building that will be a two fold fix. (1) to identify the area/building (2) and to also block the end of the building that is so unsightly (houses the A/C unit and electrical stuff and is not so nice to look at). Photographs of the actual harness racing will be supplied by Chelsea Tyner and those will be hung in the community room and changed seasonally. Chelsea is also framing two “colors” (I called them jockey jerseys..) to hang in the community room. A local citizen, Lance Woods, donated his time this past week for grading around the building to help with drainage and water standing issues in the front entrance.
Other volunteers have been: Matt Sinyard (helped with painting one evening with his daughter who is one of ther harness queens; Michelle Fowler, who is one of the Lisa’s Chics’ sisters she helped paint the kitchen; David White helped haul the pulled out carpet to the dumpster and Jonathan (who lives at the track) – he actually helped cut and remove the carpet from the community room. Johnny Gordon, our public works director, has also been instrumental in these efforts.
Once everything is finished, the community room will be an ideal gathering place to anyone/group to utilize for outreach and contact with the horsemen. That will be highly encouraged I hope.
Thank you to all who have been involved in this project, and forgive me for leaving anyone out. It does take a village to accomplish all of our goals. If you would like to help with this effort or other efforts going on within our community, please feel free to leave a comment here or contact me personally at email@example.com.
Consolidation of Services Continues……..
The voters of Hawkinsville / Pulaski County voted down a proposal to consolidate the governments. One of the primary “selling points” to a consolidated government is lowering costs. These same lower costs can be obtained through consolidating SERVICES even though the governments themselves remain separate. The City and the County have done a great job at consolidating services throughout the years. E911, EMA, Recreation, Tax Collection, Fire, Police, Animal Control, Building and Code Enforcement and Economic Development are already consolidated.
Beginning July 1, 2015 we are adding ANOTHER to the list. The City is doing away with our Municipal court and turning over traffic fine collections to the county. With the retirement of City Clerk Evelyn Herrington as well as the retirement Lodie Johnson (who managed our municipal court), the time is right. By closing down our municipal court, the city will not have to fill Ms. Johnson’s position, thus saving the costs of that position. We will also not have to retain a municipal Judge. AND hours of work allocated to the City Clerk will not have to be performed. The county Probate Judge, Judge Jeff Jones, will begin hearing all traffic violations. Violations that are CITY ONLY, (such as dilapidated housing ordinance violations), will be heard by a Code Enforcement Board. We are recommissioning our current Zoning and Codes Board as a Code Enforcement board to hear the few CITY ONLY ordinance violations that are heard each year.
Consolidation as it relates to cost savings, continues. As it relates to SERVICES, continues to be an area that we (City and County) continue to explore. We don’t need a replication of efforts. We need to continue to find ways to work together to benefit ALL of our citizens. The taxpayers we all serve are the real winners when our governments work together.
HB 170 as of 2/24/15
Well, it is changing again (and this is still in the House Version, we don’t have a clue what the Senate might do). BUT! I must say, the current version in the House is good for Hawkinsville. The School’s ESPLOST will now be unaffected! No losses for the school system in the current version. The only stipulation is that taxes that are received from Motor Fuels, MUST be spent in the area of Transportation, but the definition is pretty broad. The City and County’s SPLOST (and Future SPLOSTS) are unaffected, with only the same stipulation – Motor Fuel taxes must be spent on Transportation. The City and County’s LOST taxes will see an INCREASE in revenue. Although Motor Fuels are being removed, the rest of the sales tax base will be taxed at 1.25% rather than 1%, so it will be a NET gain to the combined CITY/COUNTY of almost $80,000.
Hotel/Motel Taxes are also being slightly adjusted upward in the current version. I don’t really understand why.
And as mentioned in an earlier post, the current version of this bill will also FORCE a larger state allocation of LMIG (road resurfacing money). Although we have to match (30%) of the LMIG allocation, this WILL allow us to resurface additional miles in the years to come.
So…. Although the fat lady has not even gotten up to sing yet, the current version IS good for Hawkinsville.
(I am NOT making any such overall statements about whether this bill is good for GEORGIANS or not. Any way you slice it, it IS a tax increase on gasoline purchases in Georgia).
HB 170 – Current Version is MUCH better for our community….
“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change ” – Heraclitus
― That quote fits really well into the legislative process. HB 170 – the House version of the transportation bill, as introduced was very UNFRIENDLY to local governments. (Read my earlier post for full details). But city’s around the state complained to their respective representatives. Many cities and counties were passing resolutions asking their representatives to vote NO to House Bill 170. People were screaming, cussing, and complaining. But our representatives LISTENED to us, and the current version of this bill shows that.
As it stands now….
The House has made significant efforts to address the concerns expressed by local elected officials about the original bill’s impact on local revenues. HB 170 no longer includes language that would give a county governing sole authority to impose, or not impose, a 6¢ per gallon local excise tax. With the local excise tax option removed, so too is the local distribution formula based on DOT’s Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant (LMIG) program.
HB 170 as it passed the House Transportation Committee would do the following:
- beginning July 1, 2015, LOST, HOST and Atlanta’s MOST would no longer be collected on the sale of motor fuel;
- beginning July 1, 2015, the tax rate for LOST, HOST and MOST would be adjusted to 1.25% from the current 1% rate;
- current and future SPLOSTs and ESPLOSTs would continue to be imposed at a rate of 1%;
- current and future SPLOSTs and ESPLOSTs would continue to be collected on motor fuel except that diesel would no longer be taxed beginningJuly 1, 2015;
- for future SPLOSTs and EPLOSTS, any revenue collected from the sale of motor fuel would be required to be spent on transportation needs, which for cities and counties is defined broadly to include transit, rail and airports, and for schools includes the purchase of fuel and buses.
The House Transportation Committee version of HB 170 is a good faith attempt to make cities, counties and schools whole and to use current sales tax agreements for the distribution of revenue. While House leaders are looking for ways to reach the goal of making local governments whole in the aggregate, as with any significant change in what can be taxed as well as tax rates, some jurisdictions would see increases in tax revenue while others would experience a decrease.
In our community, the breakdown is as follows. (assuming future sales of motor fuels and other taxable products in our community remain somewhat stable with what 2014 saw).
City of Hawkinsville – Current = $421,455 Under HB170 = $444,800 (Net increase of $23,345)
County – Current =$421,455 Under HB170 = $444,800 (Net Increase of $23,345)
City of Hawkinsville – Current = $421,455 Under HB170 = $411,200 (Net decrease of $23,345)
County – Current =$421,455 Under HB170 = $411,200 (Net decrease of $23,345)
Pulaski County School System – Current = $842,911 Under HB170 = $822,400 (Net decrease of $20,510)
Total Community Impact is a net increase of revenue of a little over $5,600
Another benefit to us locally is that the GDOT is legally mandated to re-distribute at least 10% of its budget allocation for LOCAL improvements (know as LMIG – Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants. Last year the county received some $200,000 while the city received some $45,000 (to be matched 30%). Since the GDOT budget will rise SIGNIFICANTLY due to this HB170, our city and county should be receiving somewhere between a 50% and 100% increase in our LMIG allocations. This should result in many more miles of roads within our city that will be repaved during the 2016 fiscal year!
So, originally, the bill was BAD….. We complained as did others….. Our representatives listened and the current version of the bill is palatable.
Now lets wait and see what the Senate version of the bill looks like.
Hawkinsville City Commission
HB170 – Proposed Transportation Bill in the House
As of today (Valentine’s Day), HB170, the Transportation Bill is in the full transportation committee of the House. Basically, this bill is changing the current SALES tax on motor fuel (Gas & Diesel) to an excise tax. The advantage is that this will level out the fluctuating taxes raised by a sales tax which is dependent upon the price of gas which changes daily. By changing to an excise tax, which is charged PER GALLON rather than PER DOLLAR, it should level out the income received by the state. The trucking industry also receives larger tax benefits on an excise tax over a sales tax, so the trucking industry will see a huge benefit of this change. And we all want to help out industries in Georgia.
The State of Georgia is attempting to raise an additional $750 million + (annually) for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). However, THEY (our state elected officials) don’t want to “raise taxes.” So they are promoting this bill as a “revenue neutral” bill. Yeah, right! If they are bringing in an additional almost 1 BILLION dollars, it’s got to come from SOMEWHERE!
That somewhere apparently is going to be from your LOCAL governments (County, City, and School System). You see, our local governments currently receive 3 cents of every SALES TAX dollar raised. 1 cent goes to LOST (Local Option Sales Tax). 1 cent goes to SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). And 1 cent goes to ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).
When you remove MOTOR FUELS from these sales taxes, this 3 cents will disappear from the local coffers of your local governments. We will still receive LOST, SPLOST, and ESPLOST taxes, but not on Motor Fuel Sales. In Pulaski County, Motor Fuel sales account for almost 16% of the total sales taxes collected in Pulaski County. Therefore, your school system’s next ESPLOST will be reduced by almost 16% which will amount to a LOSS of income to the Pulaski County School system of approximately $131,410 per year. Constitutionally, the school system CAN receive sales taxes, but CANNOT receive excise taxes. And there are no plans by the state to supplement this loss. There are no plans by the state to help reduce expenses or other requirements. No, this will be a LOSS each and every year. ESPLOST is used for capital purchases (Buses, buildings, technology, etc.). Apparently, the state thinks the school can simply “absorb” this loss of income. No big deal. (yeah, right!).
The loss of the 1 cent on SPLOST will effect both the city and the county. Currently we have a negotiated agreement that we split SPLOST revenues 50/50. So this loss will effect each of us the same amount. SPLOST income currently amounts to about $842,911 per year. By removing Motor Fuels from the calculation, this number will reduce each year to $711,501. A loss of about $131,410 per year. This money is going away. So the county and the city will each face lower SPLOST revenue on the next SPLOST of almost $65,705 EACH! Like the school’s ESPLOST, SPLOST is used for capital expenditures like Road Equipment, Tractors, Recreation Department improvements, Sheriff Department Vehicles, etc. This loss of $131,409 per year amounts to a loss to the city and county of $788,460 on the next 6 year SPLOST! The tractors are STILL going to wear out. The deputies are STILL going to need vehicles. Water Meters are STILL going to go bad. Our option? We can only raise property taxes or fees to take care of the shortfall.
The loss of the 1 cents on LOST will also effect both the city and the county. Currently we have a negotiated agreement that we split LOST revenues 50/50. So this loss will effect each of us the same amount. LOST income ON MOTOR FUELS current amounts to about $393,690 per year. So this is ANOTHER $400K that the state is pulling away from local coffers.
BUT WAIT! NO WORRIES! The state is going to “come to our rescue.” They are going to “allow” the county to vote an additional 6 cents excise tax to be added to motor fuel in addition the the excise tax that the state is accessing. And to hear them talk, “that solves the problem.” But does it?
In Pulaski County, we sold 4,224,231 gallons of gas in fiscal year 2014. So the 6 cents would increase the COUNTY coffers by $253,454 each year. Now last time I used my calculator, $253,454 does not bring back the lose of $140K (in LOST dollars) and $131K (in SPLOST dollars) and $131K (in ESPLOST dollars). Nope, by my calculations when you combine the decreases in LOST, SPLOST, and ESPLOST, our citizens are being short changed by about $403,000 PER YEAR! And that is AFTER our sole commissioner implements the 6 cents excise tax. If he should choose NOT to implement this tax, then the citizens will lose some $650K per year. Thanks Legislators!
But wait! There’s more!
Even if our sole commissioner DOES implement the 6 cents of excise tax (taking the heat of a “tax increase” rather than the state taking that heat!), the STATE is telling us HOW he has to split it with the city. Previously, our LOST and SPLOST splits were NEGOTIATED LOCALLY. Now, they are giving us a formula based on road miles in the city/county and population in each. The result will be on both LOST AND SPLOST rather than splitting 50/50 as we have for years, the STATE is telling us the motor fuel excise tax will be split 73/27. The county will get 73% and the city will be reduced to 27%. OUCH!
SO…. Not only are they reducing our monies, but they are TELLING US how to split the reduced amount they plan on giving us!
Based on 2014 figures, and assuming the county DOES implement the 6 cents, then the COUNTY will still lose $78,000, the school system will lose $131,000, and the city will lose $194,000 PER YEAR! And this is AFTER the 6 cents excise tax which the county may or may not implement. “Revenue Neutral huh?”. The city will bear 48% of the reduction. The school system will bear 33% and the county 19%. To replace this money, the county could be forced to raise their millage by almost a half mill. The school system could be forced to raise their millage by almost half a mill. And the city (who is hit the hardest) could be faced with over a 2 mill increase. (and we haven’t raised the millage since 1987).
THERE’S EVEN MORE! With LOST, the revenues go into the general fund. Your elected leaders can spend this money how they see fit (and answer to their local constituents). With SPLOST and ESPLOST, while the money has to go to capital projects, your local officials decide (by voter referendum) the projects that our citizens need. But with the coming changes, all the money from the motor fuel EXCISE tax MUST be spend on Transportation. We will have no choice. The State again TELLING us how to spend our money!
Hope is not yet lost. The bill is still in committee. The final has not been seen. And then regardless of what the house comes up with, the State Senate will still have their input and revisions. So ultimately it might be better. It might be worse. No one knows at this point.
My fear is that the final version won’t be significantly different that I have presented. I encourage you to contact our local state representatives and tell them NOT to pass this bill in its current state. Do we need more transportation dollars in Georgia? Yes! Do we need to collect those dollars by pulling them from the local economy? No!
The alternatives are many. They can leave our local 3 cents sales tax on gas and go on about their merry way. Or they can convert the 3 cents to an excise tax but LET LOCAL ENTITIES decide how to spend and how to divide the money. They can simply ADD to the state’s portion of the excise tax and fund the transportation needs. But no, that would mean THEY would be seen as raising taxes rather than forcing us LOCALLY to raise taxes.
Representative Buddy Harden is Pulaski County’s legislature in the State House. Senator Ross Tolleson is our Senator. Please contact these gentlemen and tell them to fund the state needs from state coffers. Not by pulling money away from our local governments. Their contact information is below:
504-G Coverdell Legislative Office
Atlanta, Ga. 30334
121-F State Capital
Atlanta, Ga. 30334
Please let me know your thoughts. Reply to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you!
Hawkinsville City Commission
Pot Holes and Paving……
I have had more than the normal phone calls lately over some bad roads in Hawkinsville. Almost all of the conversations start like this…
Citizen: “The city needs to come out and repave the road in front of my house. It’s in bad shape and me and my neighbors pay our taxes and deserve better roads.”
Let me just start out by saying, “They are right!”. However, it is not as easy as just sending out a crew.. For starters, the City of Hawkinsville does not have a paving machine or paving crew. Our guys can certainly fix a pothole or repair a road cut. But we don’t have the resources to actually pave or even resurface a road. In order to do that, we rely on the state Department of Transportation (GDOT). GDOT allocates so much money to us each year to use toward resurfacing. In 2014 that amount was $48,719.74. We are required to do a 30% match, so that means we have $63,336 allocated toward resurfacing in 2014. We then submit a list of roads (in priority order) that we feel need resurfacing. The top 15 list we submitted for 2014 was:
|1||Markel St.||Martin St.||Lakeview Rd.||1753||20|
|2||Hillcrest Ave.||McCormick Ave||end of street (Clark Dr)||1409||20|
|3||Jordan Drive||Sunnybrook Circle||Sunnybrook Circle|
|4||W. McDuffie St.||McCormick Ave.||Brookside||682||22|
|5||Ryan St.||Broad St.||Commerce St.|
|6||S. Union St.||Broad St.||Carruthers St.||3646||20|
|7||Kibbee||Turner St.||Jackson St.||2447||25|
|8||Second Street||Progress Ave.||Houston St.||2535||37|
|9||Liberty St||S. Florida Ave.||Warren St.||2419||30|
|10||Clark Dr.||Hillcrest Dr.||Kamellia Dr.||1223||19|
|11||Fairgrounds Rd.||S. Jackson St.||County Landing Rd.||2100||17|
|12||Wildwood Ave||Mansfield Dr.||Craftway Cir.||2432||20|
|13||Craftway Cir.||Wildwood Ave.||Thompson Way||1314||20|
|14||South Wood St.||Broad Street||Commerce Street|
|15||Pineywood Drive||Knotty Pine St.||end of street|
(This list is compiled from our street department as well as citizen complaints and then prioritized by the City Administration and the City Commissioners).
It costs us an estimated average of $0.56 per square foot to resurface (some more, some less depending on current road conditions and other factors). So once we find out how much money the state is going to allocate for us, then we have to re-prioritize our list to see that we get the most bang for our buck. We have to consider such questions as: Do we pave ONE long road, or several smaller roads, even if the long road is in worse condition? How many citizens actually live on that road? Is it a thoroughfare to other areas? Can we temporarily patch it and get by another year?
For 2014, we ending up having enough funds to do:
|1||Markel St.||Martin St.||Lakeview Rd.||1753||20|
|2||Hillcrest Ave.||McCormick Ave||end of street (Clark Dr)||1409||20|
|3||Jordan Drive||Sunnybrook Circle||Sunnybrook Circle|
|4||W. McDuffie St.||McCormick Ave.||Brookside||682||22|
It is estimated that it will cost the city (and GDOT) $66,000 to complete these projects.
In order to complete any additional roads, they would have to be paid for 100% by our local tax dollars. By waiting on each years GDOT allocation, we get much more for our local dollars (with the state contributing 70% of our cost). While we know there are other roads that need paving, we also have many other infrastructure needs to pay for as well. And on the other infrastructure needs, the state gives us no help. Thus the local taxpayers have to pay 100% of the other costs. So it makes more sense to only pave the roads each year that GDOT will help us with and put our other limited resources toward the other infrastructure needs. If we DON’T do at least the amount that GDOT approves, they will not pay ANY! So we need to at least do enough roads each year in order to get their 70% contribution. Anything OVER our total, we would have to pay 100% for.
I was sitting at McDonald’s the other day with one of the “coffee clubs” that meet there. They took the opportunity to tell me of all the needs in the city of Hawkinsville. For example, they want us to fix all the roads, replace all the old water and sewage lines, and invest heavily in industrial recruitment (among other things). But most importantly, don’t raise taxes. In other words, their request was to correct outstanding problems (aka spending money) while not raising taxes (aka increasing revenue). An impossibility. We operate under a TIGHT, LEAN budget. So in order to do any additional work each year (pave additional roads, replace additional pipes, etc.) would require MORE revenue (aka higher taxes).
So, I am writing this post to assure you, our citizens, that we are doing our very best to correctly, efficiently, and effectively allocate the limited resources that we have. Do we have bad roads? YES. Can we afford to simply repair/resurface them all now? NO. We simply take our list each year, (again, compiled from our street department and citizen complaints) and prioritize and fund based on the dollar amounts that GDOT allocates to Hawkinsville each year.
If you know of a bad street, let us know. Our crews have spent the last two weeks repairing MANY of the potholes around town, but I am positive there are more. Call City Hall (478-892-3240) or simply email City Hall (email@example.com) or you can even reply to this post. We will look at the road, add it to our list, and then consider it when we re-prioritize each year.
Pot holes and patches? YES, we can do those ourselves, so again, LET US KNOW. Sometimes, the worse the condition, the LESS people report it. I suppose they feel that “surely someone has told the city how bad this pothole is.” But if everyone is thinking someone else is reporting it… well,… sometimes NO ONE reports it. Also, not all roads are city maintained. Some are STATE roads, and some that get reported are actually COUNTY roads. But let us know and we will pass along the information to the appropriate agency or government.
Consolidation continues? Zoning Boards to merge
Well, the citizens decided against consolidating Hawkinsville and Pulaski County governments. However, that is not stopping the respective governments from continuing to work together to consolidate services whenever it makes sense. We are now working with County Commissioner M.A. “Butch” Hall to consolidate the zoning ordinances and zoning boards of Hawkinsville and Pulaski County.
We will utilize ONE set of zoning ordinances, ONE county wide zoning map, and ONE zoning board to hear zoning requests. This move will not only save a little money (we pay our zoning board members AND the county pays their zoning board members), but it will also make things more consistent and easier for our citizens. A citizen can get the maps, forms, ordinances, etc from EITHER government.
We will continue to look for ways to make our respective governments more responsive, better fiscal stewards, and better listeners to our citizens. If you have any input on this or any issue, please respond below. I look forward to your thoughts….