Citizens turn out for District 2 Town Hall meeting
Published 10:03 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019
From Staff Reports
AMERICUS — Over seventy citizens gathered at Union Tabernacle Baptist Church for a Town Hall hosted by City of Americus Council member Nelson Brown. Brown has been planning the meeting over the past month and had one mission in mind, “sharing the citizen services and putting a face to the different departments. I am thankful that so many people came to the Town Hall and asked good questions. I’m going to do my best and continue to be active in the community, and if there’s anything citizens need from me, just let me know. That’s what I’m here for.” In his comments, he shared his guiding principle, “Transparency + Trust + Accountability + Communication + Information + Training = Great services.”
The format showcased four departments along with the new City Manager Charles Coney. As the opening, Coney shared his vision for citizen engagement and delivery of services. Additionally, he provided a Census 2020 update alerting citizens that this would be the first time people will be able to respond anytime, anywhere online from any device or by mail or phone. “Given the technology platform, it will be challenging to persons who do not have access to computers or strong enough bandwidth so that they can complete their forms online,” he said. “That is why we have jumpstarted our campaigns and will be working with Sumter County so that we do not duplicate efforts. In 2010, Sumter County was considered one of the localities that had 9 percent of its citizens living in hard-to-count neighborhoods. The U.S. Census has already acknowledged that 31.1 percent of our households had either no internet access or dial up-only. We do not want to be in a situation where we ‘undercount’ our community.”
The Town Hall continued with introductions and updates from Diadra Powell, finance director; Larry Riner, public works director; Police Chief Mark Scott; and Nicole Kirksey, director of tourism. Each provided valuable information including but not limited to, team members, departmental budgets, crime statistics, tourism opportunities, and maintenance updates. Following their departmental presentations, the Town Halll presenters entertained questions from the audience. Some of the questions were, “Why has my utility bill increased?; How do I get my street paved?; Tell me more about the African American Heritage Trail?; What do I do when my neighbor will not cut his grass?; What is the city doing about jobs in our community?; and How does the city work with the school district regarding finances and taxes?”
Other department heads were present in support of their colleagues. Coney shared that more presentations are forthcoming and will highlight other departments and city services. He has already received interest from other Council members to host a similar meeting in their Districts.
At the conclusion, Council member Brown thanked everyone for attending and offered himself for direct contact as their representative. He also welcomed them to attend city council meetings. The Agenda Setting Meeting is held the Thursday after the second Monday with the Regular Council Meeting to be held the following Thursday. May’s Agenda Setting Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 16 in the Council Chambers at the Russell Thomas Jr. Public Safety Building (119 S. Lee St.) and the Regular Council Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 23 at the same location.