17 Jan City Manager’s Report including 2016 Accomplishments
The following is a summary of City Manager Bill Prokop’s Report to City Council on 1/10/2017
I hope everyone had a great holiday break and that we are all ready to tackle the New Year.
First, I want to report to you that the letter we sent to the governor was forwarded to DNR and they called me and advised me that they were taking the responsibility to try and get the abandoned boats cleaned up the best they can but they have to follow the laws.
Second, I want to let you know that yesterday Logan McFee was awarded the outstanding Eagle Scout award for the memorial project that he did in front of our Court Building, for all of Northern Beaufort County.
Third, I am very pleased to inform you that work has started to replace our transient dock and install the new power pedestals and fire suppression system. This is the beginning of us making the necessary improvements to our marina that we have been planning on for the last several years.
I thought it might be helpful for me to recap for you the highlights of 2016 and these are not in any priority but in the last 12 months we accomplished or have ongoing over two dozen major projects, and we have over a dozen projects on the books that we will be working on for the next 12 months. This is all before we hold the Council Retreat and you set some new goals for us to move forward on.
I am only going to highlight the projects and I am happy to discuss any of them in detail with anyone from the public at any time should they have questions. It also goes without me saying it, that there was also some everyday work that was accomplished by all departments that I am not discussing, but I do acknowledge what staff has accomplished. In addition, we did have some work that we did not get done, and we had some complaints about what we had or had not done – we do not live in the perfect world, but we do live in the real world so we try our best.
So, let me go to my list…..
The City of Beaufort Completed the New fire station that will serve the City of Beaufort Port Royal Fire Department.
Upon the retirement of Chief Sammy Negron, Chief Reece Bertholf was installed as Chief of the Beaufort Port Royal Fire Department.
Setting records for large capital projects, the Boundary Street Redevelopment is 49% complete and on budget. Yes we have another year, but signs of progress, now that most of the undergrounding of utilities is nearing completion, it is becoming easier to envision the final product of which we will all be proud.
The City, Beaufort County Council’s Rural and Critical Lands Board and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust have purchased four of the six buildings on the South Side of Boundary Street. The vacant buildings will be removed within months and we will get a preview of the redeveloped gateway will become. There are two remaining properties and the partnership is working to find ways to make them available when the owners are willing to sell.
The City updated our Business License processes to make it possible to obtain licenses on line and at discounts for early payment and business longevity in the City. We also completed a measure that will ensure taxing of eligible properties will be fair to all so all will share the tax burden.
We refinanced existing bonds at lower rates creating cost savings to the city.
Our city Bond rating remains the highest it can be for a city our size.
We completed and were recognized for our annual CAFR (certified audit financial report)
A number of Storm water improvements, not the least of which was the long overdue work on South Side Boulevard and other parts of the city. The work is not completed as we need to continue to find and set aside existing dollars to maintain these state assets the state is not able or willing to maintain.
We sold several surplus properties including 302 Carteret Street where a new business thrives, a warehouse in Duke Street that has been transformed into an artist studio, gallery and sculpture garden now stand. We sold some smaller properties the city owned but no longer needs.
With the proceeds from Carteret Street property and a lease purchase arrangement, which keeps the property on the tax roles, we purchased 500 Carteret where we have established an additional 70+ downtown spaces with some set aside at a discounted rate for employees, maintained some of the existing tenants and made a home for the Beaufort Digital Corridor.
We passed a comprehensive food truck ordinance that encourages entrepreneurship by making it easier for our ordinances to be interpreted and creating more flexibility for food truck locations on public and private properties.
Updated business license schedule & fees AND discounts for early payments and established businesses. This is in anticipation of a likely new business license law and puts ahead of the curve complying with what the legislature is likely to pass.
We have followed our comprehensive plan in accordance with the Beaufort County Northern Regional Plan to annex properties that are donut holes (surrounded by city properties) and others within our agreed upon growth boundaries. The majority of the properties annexed and those planned are commercial and have asked to annex to achieve a higher level of service.
Noted an increase in development permits to the highest in last 12 years – $202,390 a 66% increase – new jobs, new revenue and positive economic development.
Digital corridor – creates the foundation for a new industry in our City. Thanks to support from Hargray Communications for a $150,000 grant and Beaufort County Council for releasing $140,000 in economic development dollars that might otherwise have been returned to the State Department of Commerce, the upgrades were paid for with grant dollars and not from the general fund.
Established an Economic Development partnership with Bluffton’s Don Ryan Center for innovation – creating new opportunities for small businesses seeking help to grow.
Above and beyond grants for Boundary Street, the City won competitive Grants exceeding $1.0 million –for Police, Fire, Parks and community development
The City of Beaufort Police department was cited nationally by the US Department of Justice for its Diversity accomplishments and is being used as a model for other cities.
Our Civic Master Plan was awarded national recognition
Staff and community review of Beaufort code made significant progress and within a matter of months is likely to be reintroduced to the public for review and comment. There is still time and a need for continued community input.
Launched in partnership with the Beaufort Housing Authority and the Northwest Quadrant neighborhood a projects on Duke St. to demonstrate opportunities and strategies for redevelopment
We survived Tropical Storm Hermine and Hurricane Matthew and are very greatful to our police, fire and public works departments for work exceptionally well done
With the Help of the greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, our Commerce Park was recertified and is now listed with Commerce Dept. – Palmetto Program of listed sites which is the state makes available to prospects. Two of the vacant buildings in and around the commerce park have or will soon have new tenants created more jobs.
Through a new computer program called OpenGov city financials are on line and in real time.
Broad Street Stormwater improvements have almost been completed.
Southside Park -dog park was built and is now open for business.
We received a grant to build a walking trail in Southside Park that is currently being designed.
We are prepared to make 2017 even better and it will start with our Council Retreat on February 7 & 8th.
I thank our Staff for the work they have done to accomplish all of these items and also thank you for having the vision and for supporting our efforts throughout the year.
I will be happy to answer any questions.