24 Oct City Manager Report 10/18/16
- Storm Matthew – we covered it in our work session but again I thank everyone who was part of making our City and County as safe as we could, it was a great effort and most of our plans worked and some need to be refined, but we are here safe, tired, and very much relieved. Thank you all again for the great teamwork.
- The City given a $150,000 Award by Hargray: We are very proud and thankful to Hargray for giving the City an award of $150,000 for the fit-up of the BDC space at 500 Carteret Street. This is currently our prime economic development project and one that we feel our community will be very proud of in the future. Our goal and schedule is to have the BDC open and ready for business by the end of November but more will come on that in the future. Again, a very big Thank you to Hargray Communications.
- In-Fill incentives through the Redevelopment Commission Duke Street Project: Thanks to the efforts of many and especially Deborah Johnson, and Councilor Mike McFee the Duke Street project is fully underway (and the storm is not stopping them). We have incentives to help offset the cost of making home improvements, building new structures, and cleaning up vacant property. In addition, the entire street is getting spruced up and everyone is taking part in making this happen. Please take a walk or a ride on Duke Street and talk to the neighbors and people working there to see the involvement of the community. Thank you to all those who are helping make this happen.
- Parking Garage: I feel that it is important for the community to understand that the parking garage being developed by 303 Associates is a very good thing for the City, but it is a garage to serve the needs of 303 Associates growing businesses, and we support them as much as we can. They may or may not allow the public to park in their facility but that is a decision that will be made by them. In the meantime, parking is a priority for the City and the City is continuing to explore other locations for a parking structure within the downtown area. It can now be a smaller structure but will be 100% for public parking. We are having the City’s consultant look into several smaller sites to determine the feasibility and economics of such a structure. Should the 1 cents sales tax pass in November we will have the basic information to move ahead with our plans as quickly as possible to provide additional public parking in the downtown area. If the sales tax does not pass we will have to look at other ways to see if it could be financed that would benefit the residents or look into other possible parking solutions.
- Water Front Park Improvements: From reading comments in the media many people do not understand the structure of the Water Front park. It is not a lot of fill with top soil and green grass and then flowers and trees planted on it. It is built on pilings (piers – made out of concrete) and those pilings are getting old – 40 years plus and they need repair, and the cost will be several hundred thousand dollars. We have had an underwater engineering study done and we know the basic repairs that will have to be done, and again, if the 1 cents sales tax passes we will use some of that funding to make the necessary repairs. This has to be done before we can start on the expansion and beautification of the park. It is like having to put in a new foundation under your house before you can add a bedroom. Closely tied to this is the improvements we will have to make to our marina to bring it up to the standards being asked for today by boating and sailing enthusiast. There is a lot to this project and I want the public to understand that.
- All Part of Capital Improvement Program: The Parking garage and the Waterfront park improvements are all part of our 2017 Capital Improvement Plan that is part of our budget that was approved in June. At times we fail to realize that a lot of repairs and improvements were put off due to budget constraints over the years and many of these items were delayed and delayed and not done. Well now some of them have reached the end of their useful life and repairs or replacements have to be made. We were fortunate this year, due to our very strong financial ratings by both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, to be able to secure a lowering of our interest rate and take an influx of cash to help pay for some long delayed projects, like Carnegie Hall window replacements, Arsenal improvements, Marina dock repairs, HVAC/generator repairs at City Hall just to name a few. The best part of all this is that our bond rating stayed high and it did not cost our taxpayers one cent. I bring this up because of comments we see in the press, usually by citizens that are not even residents of Beaufort but like to share their expertise without having the facts. As the City Manager I am very pleased that we have the strong financial condition that we have for a City of our size, it sure makes my job a lot easier. This is not to say that the lack of revenue sources is not a big problem for the City, it is and this is why we are looking at annexation that fills in donut holes and brings new revenue to the City is so important. That of course tied to controlled expenses are critical for the health of the City.
- Department of Justice Racial Diversity Study: The key recommendation to all law enforcement agencies is “Law enforcement agencies should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience, and cultural background to improve understanding and effectiveness in dealing with all communities”
We should all be very proud of our PD and thank Chief Clancy for the recognition he has gotten for our department. Our department was one selected for this study because of the diversity that we do have and that we maintain. I would like to read to you a very small part of the report and what was quoted to the DOJ investigators “Multiple officers discussed the importance of the “human touch” throughout their hiring process and into their careers with the department. Although the department’s practice of valuing individuals may not always be explicitly articulated as a strategy aimed at fostering diversity, the respondents from the department believed such practices were a promising approach to achieving diversity in the ranks. This is coming from our officers. The other thing that makes me very proud is that at the current time we have 4 officers studying for their PHD degree, several for their Masters and bachelor’s. But just as important the Chief gets an email on October 6th and I would like to read it to you. “Dear Beaufort Chief. I was at the Family Dollar this evening and met a saint. She is a police officer. A lady on hospice did not have enough food to take her through the storm. This police officer in heart could not just leave this lady without enough food. Came to the store to buy her groceries. Not all police officers are bad people. There are a lot more good men and women law enforcement officers that are making a difference. I pray that God will always protect her and she will be blessed always. Praise report for today. This was all about officer Hillary Cunningham, she is the example of what we consider “real community policing”. Thank you Chief Clancy for the leadership that you provide to all our officers. Chief Clancy will be attending the DOJ’s follow up seminars in Savannah and Charleston in November.
- Process automation: We have launched our on-line business permit application process and we have tested it with several customers and did a demo to the staff of the Chamber of Commerce. We are also studying the simplification and automation of the building permitting process and the codes and building inspection processes. We are working with TCL and Tyler Systems to review what we are doing and what improvements can be made. We will keep you informed as we make adjustments.
Thank you and have a good night. Do you have any questions or comments?