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Hogansville talks future development, finances at retreat

During the first day of the Hogansville City Council retreat, the council discussed the future of development and finances for the city.

City Manager Jonathan Lynn said currently there is nothing to worry about with the city’s financial state.

“Even with COVID-19 where everything was supposed to slow down, we are in a better situation than we were in a year and a half ago,” Lynn said. “Sales tax is actually up, and we are actually spending less money, surprisingly. We are in such a good position right now to go into the next budget year.”

Lynn said that the city has almost $1 million more in the account going into the year.

“I just think that we’re in that position now where we can really, as we go through today and tomorrow, our priorities will have funding that we can allocate for,” Lynn said.

The city is currently working on a packet that will include the condensed version of the budget for council members to reference.

Councilwoman Toni Striblin asked how the city should respond to questions from citizens when asked about the city’s debt.

“There’s probably a couple exceptions but every city has debt,” Lynn said. “Every city has debt because you don’t want to extend cash money for every little thing that comes up. We are in such a good position now where we can absorb that debt into our general fund. We are not accruing debt based on what we can’t pay. We’re doing it based on what we can pay, so that we still have that cash on hand.”

Lynn noted that the city could easily pay off its debt by raising property taxes but that would be unfair to the citizens and they should not do that.

Assistant City Manager Lisa Kelly referenced to when she started almost 20 years ago that the city had almost no money in the reserves and now there is.

“We’re able to take those reserves and earmark for future needs, which is an amazing thing to do,” Kelly said. 

The future residential development plans include eight major projects that are either underway or under contract currently.

All eight projects would create an estimated 945 lots in the city with approximately 100 of those lots already completed.

The city discussed having to fix its water infrastructure problems so they could properly supply those new residential developments with water. Kelly said she is uncertain how ready the city water supply is for five of the projects that will be developed.

“We have to figure out how to build the coffers for those infrastructure improvements so not just water but also electric infrastructure,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the new developments are prominent developments that will help the city grow.

Additionally, during the retreat, Lynn updated the city on the recruitment process to find a new Hogansville Chief of Police.

Currently, Jeff Sheppard is serving as the interim chief. 

The goal is to have a new chief hired by July 1.

“I think we would be doing ourselves a disservice by not doing an executive recruitment,” Lynn said.

“Jeff will apply for the position, and he will get every consideration possible to continue that. But if we don’t recruit we don’t know what we could be missing out on.”

The city plans to have the position posted for 30 days and then continue that with a 30-day interview process.

Lynn said the city plans to do a thorough background and interview process of each candidate.

The city will continue its retreat on Friday morning at Great Wolf Lodge.