The 27th Annual Horizons Retreat concluded with a glimpse of the City of Aiken’s future.
City Council Proposed GoalsShort term goals • Continue to look at broadcast opportunities• Continue and explore opportunities for a Northside recreation facility• Prioritize the city water, sewer, storm drain and roadway repairs as part of the annual budgeting process• Continue construction of new homes in Edgewood Neighborhood Subdivision and seek opportunities for developing property in other Northside Revitalization target homes• Conduct a review of Crosland Park development project to evaluate any needed modifications to its plan• Find opportunities to partner with Aiken Corp. on new projects to improve Aiken• Develop a plan for renovations to the first floor of the Municipal Building on Park Avenue• Put together a report on staffing -- promotions and turnovers• Investigate the best plan for building a connecting roadway from Dougherty Road to the Publix Shopping CenterContinuing goals• Pursue next phases for green infrastructure to continue the abatement of Sand River storm water runoff problems in Hitchcock Woods• Support current and future missions of SRS through annual visits to Washington as well as staying updated on the site’s strategic goals and plans.• Support and strengthen the Character First Program• Continue strategies to redevelop and stabilize Aiken’s Northside neighborhoods• Expand Wellness Initiative with appropriate public programming and encourage residents toward better health• Continue city’s Succession Management Program• Undertake the sanitary sewer evaluation survey recommended projects as funding becomes available• Preserve equestrian areas and open spaces when any opportunity to do so arises• Expand existing city bike pathways and pedestrian walkways• Work with local academic campuses -- secondary, post-secondary and technical as well as the Aiken Young Professionals• Identify opportunities for the city vehicle fleet to include alternative fuel and all-electric motors• Proceed with the redevelopment of the City Recycle Center into a multi-use and passive city park facility• Develop a policy for future street lighting installations throughout the city• Review procedures and projects to improve or install new utility infrastructure• Assess opportunities to improve lighting efficiencies of city facilities
The two-day meeting held at the Rye Patch continued early Saturday morning.
City Council members discussed the budget, reviewed the Capital Project Sales Tax and proposed short- and long-term goals.
City Finance Director Kim Abney started the meeting by updating Council on the current budget. The city is halfway through the fiscal year and is meeting budget in both its general and utilities funds so far, she reported.
Real property taxes are expected to exceed this year’s budget pending appeals, Abney said. The 2012-2013 budget projects that real property taxes will bring in approximately $7.5 million. Last year, the final result of the real property taxes was $146,141 more than what was projected in the budget.
Abney also mentioned that the city is working toward allowing residents to use credit cards for utility bills, taxes and other payments at the Administration and Finance Building. Abney hopes to go live with accepting credit cards in the early spring.
The next topic was the Capital Project Sales Tax; the majority of the list from the second round has been completed except for a few items that are in varying stages, including the splash pad at Citizens Park. Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Glenn Parker said they expect to construct the splash pad, which has $250,000 in CPST funds available, over the spring.
A new Northside recreation park and a senior-youth center proposed for Eustis Park are two other Round II items that will tentatively be in the design phase within the next few months.
While setting goals during the last hour of the retreat, Council members discussed the possibility of televised meetings for residents who are unable to attend. Councilman Dick Dewar said that almost everything Council does affects the residents so it’s important to reach out to them and keep them informed through a variety of mediums.
The City plans to start looking at businesses that could help them televise meetings.
City Manager Richard Pearce said they also need to look at the Virginia Acres Track at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center and consider improvements as roots from the trees lining the area are causing the pavement to rise and crack.
Lastly, Mayor Fred Cavanaugh inquired about the suggested city logo change that was being considered last year. Cavanaugh said he hadn’t heard much more about it since residents were asked to submit suggestions over the summer.
Pearce said that some but not much feedback was received.
Both Dewar and Cavanaugh said they’d rather just see the logo stay the same.
“I like the logo we have,” Dewar said. “It reflects the history of Aiken.”
The current shield-shaped city logo includes images of a horse head, golfers, an atomic progress symbol and a Winter Colony home and has been in use since 1955.
By the end of the retreat, Council came up with a list of goals that it would like to concentrate on and accomplish in the coming year.
That list will be tentatively presented and reviewed once more at the next City Council meeting held Feb. 11. Council will vote on whether or not to adopt those goals for the next fiscal year.