The Bainbridge City Council holds its annual retreat to discuss plans for the present and future
The Bainbridge City Council, City Department Heads and City Manager Chris Hobby held a two-day retreat at the Resort at Lake Blackshear to discuss the immediate needs of the city as well as create proposals for the future.
Friday afternoon’s session started with each department head presenting his or her Vision 2021 plan. They each outlined what they would like to see happen in the city over the next five years.
The administrative department set its goal as introducing additional technology including accepting credit cards at the municipal court, e-ticketing for police and automated utility readings. Bainbridge Public Safety director Jerry Carter continued the technology theme by presenting ideas for new technology to enhance the work of police officers in Bainbridge. He also asked for additional staff and for specialized training for officers including a SWAT team.
One of the most detailed plans came from Roy Oliver, who outlined an extensive plan to enhance the parks throughout the city and complete the renovations at the Earl May Boat Basin including finishing the campground and adding a dirt bike trail.
Additional proposals included developing a consistent brand throughout the city of Bainbridge, undergoing a study to determine the feasibility of merging Decatur County Fire and Rescue and the fire aspect of BPS and creating a fleet management plan that will allow the city to replace all its current vehicles while saving money.
While many of these plans will take the full five years if not more to complete, the city is going to work to implement those “low hanging fruit” projects that will have a large impact while not costing much money.
These include the bike trail and an additional covered pavilion at the Boat Basin, implementing the fleet management program and undergoing the study to work towards merging the two fire departments.
“We talked about the money was tight, but actually [fleet management] helps us rather than hurts us,” Hobby said. “Some of the other stuff we are going to have to hold off on, but if you don’t plan it you’ll never do it.”
A consistent theme throughout the retreat was how much the relations with Decatur County had improved over the last year.
“The relationship and the discord between the city and the county had paralyzed us,” Hobby said. “It was hampering everything else that we were trying to do.”
According to Hobby the city and county are working towards “operational consolidation” that will remove the inefficient redundancies that occur when they both attempt to offer the same service. In the past year they have merged their maintenance shop, animal control, building department and code enforcement to name a few. They are currently working together to determine what remaining operations they can combine.
“Some of those cases the city will take the lead and provide the service and some of those cases the county takes the lead and provides the service,” Hobby said.
Additionally, they are finalizing a plan for a health insurance cooperative with the county and Memorial Hospital that conservative estimates say will save the city over $200,000 in the first year.
The city also decided to not reopen the Potter Street pool this summer due to needed repairs and budget concerns, but they plan to look into opening a splash pad in the near future.