Leesburg city officials hold strategic planning session

LEESBURG -- Officials with the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission discussed a 2012-13 wish list for the city of Leesburg with members of the City Council during a strategic planning session at the city's library branch Wednesday evening.

Regional Commission Executive Director Dan Bollinger and Director of Transportation Programs Robert McDaniel were facilitators for an extended planning session that provided what Bollinger called a "road map" for the city's various strategic committees.

"You look at what we've done here tonight, the items we've listed, and this becomes your strategic plan through June of 2013," Bollinger said. "This is your road map of things you'll work to get done during this year."

Before Bollinger and McDaniel called for a list of projects from the chairs of the council's Planning and Zoning, Human Resources, Police, Water/Sewer, Finance and Maintenance committees, Mayor Jim Quinn outlined projects and items currently on the city's radar.

Among the items mentioned by Quinn were the ongoing application process for a Community Development Block Grant that would help fund a sewer project on Magnolia Street; work and funding for restoration of the long-delayed historic train depot project, which Quinn said is still two years away; the installation of electronic water meters in the city; construction of a new school; installation of a new water tower and improvements on an existing one, and construction of a Public Works storage facility.

"We have a lot of stuff going on right now," Quinn said.

Quinn also mentioned the July 31 vote on a special 1 percent regional transportation sales tax proposal that would provide funding for a number of projects in 14 Southwest Georgia counties.

"If that passes, Lee County and the city of Leesburg will do well," the mayor said.

Councilman Bob Wilson offered advice to county leaders as they deal with an ongoing garbage fee issue.

"We need to impress on the county that they need to get that garbage issue resolved," Wilson said. "If votes in the county are needed to make sure (the T-SPLOST legislation) passes, they need to get that garbage deal out of the way. Because if that's still lingering, the people here are going to vote (T-SPLOST) down."

Among the items discussed and listed by council members as projects to tackle over the next 16 months were finalizing zoning ordinances and a zoning map, improving the gateways into the city, implementing job descriptions through city department heads, purchasing needed equipment for the police department, repairing and adding new sidewalks, making necessary financial improvements suggested by an auditor and completing storage buildings for Public Works.

"As you look at these various projects, you must work under the realization that you have limited funding," Bollinger said. "It's important that you take a committee-by-committee approach to get things done. You need to determine what you can get done, who's responsible and what it's going to cost.

"And if there are projects we list that you don't finish, you need to take a look at them at the end of this period and ask why they weren't accomplished."