City reviews goals for FY 2015

Published 9:44 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

Wednesday marked the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015 for the City of Bainbridge. With each new fiscal year comes a set of new goals and priorities for the Bainbridge City Council and city staff to complete and achieve. These goals are outlined on the last few pages of each annual operating budget for that respective fiscal year. 

The goals are developed during the city staff and council’s annual retreat, held each March. The retreat allows staff members to present separate and detailed department goals to the council. These presentations start the conversations that develop into yearly goals, said City Manager Chris Hobby.

“I think we had a pretty good year, especially considering what’s going on with the financial side of things. We were still able to accomplish a lot of things that are meaningful.

2014 priorities

According to the 2013-2014 operating budget, the city’s FY 2014 goals were:

• Technology upgrades in City Hall: The $347,000 software upgrade replaced an outdated system that had been used by city employees for over 13 years.

• Urban Redevelopment Plan: The city council was considering transitioning some of Bainbridge’s public housing to private ownership. This was not completed in the last year and is still being considered.

• 311 – Public Communications: The public hotline system never came to fruition because it was “cost prohibitive,” according Hobby.

• Paving, repaving, street repair: Some repairs were made this past year. Ongoing street repair is often included in the annual goals, Hobby said.

• Commodore Park – Floodplain map: The most recent floodplain map listed Commodore Industrial Park within the floodplain, which Hobby said was an error and that a complicated process lead to a revision that will be released next month.

• Downtown Master Plan: The Downtown Development Authority worked with the University of Georgia to complete the master plan. The DDA has since been working on carrying out the plan.

• New quick attack fire truck: The truck was purchased for Bainbridge Public Safety to replace two older trucks that did not have fire-fighting capabilities.

2015 priorities

The 2014-2015 FY operating budget includes more detailed, finance-based goals and priorities.

“They’re so financially centered, looking at ways we can impact on our revenue side in ways that we haven’t done before,” Hobby said. “It signals a change in the council’s focus from being project-centered, which we’ve always been and still will be to an extent, but now there’s a lot of focus on the financials and the financial management. I think that’s a good thing.”

Those priorities are:

• Council Function: The council plans to begin meeting once a month with quarterly work sessions instead of twice a month. The quarterly meetings will include project updates.

• Finance: The city hopes to begin diversifying revenue sources in order to build reserves in case of emergencies or unforeseen demands. Some of those diversifications include the possibility of increasing various fees. Other means of diversification include charging fees for transfer station use by those who are not Bainbridge water users or charging a launch fee for non-resident mega ramp users. Part of the initial conversation was to increase water and sewer prices, Hobby said, but the council instead chose to raise the millage rate. The water and sewer price increases will be revisited next March.

• Human Resources: The city saw an increase in employee healthcare costs last year and is working to combat further increases by exploring different “incentives for employees to take advantage of the Affordable Healthcare Act to find outside health care,” according to the FY 2015 budget.

• Infrastructure: The plan is to create listings of derelict properties and condemn or bring them to code. The city is also continuing pothole and street repair.

• Public housing update: As a continuation of last year’s Urban Redevelopment Plan, the city hopes to work with UGA to begin a transitioning public housing to private ownership, a process that has been successful in large cities but has yet to be attempted in a smaller one, Hobby said.

• Accountability of boards supported by city: As a part of the quarterly work sessions, the council will require updates from the various boards it appoints such as the DDA and Tree Committee.