By Lynn Mueller
The Mayor and the Georgetown City Council have been holding a series of budget workshops and public forums over the past several months. The next budget workshop is on Thursday, May 17th.
Citizens are encouraged to attend, observe and make public comments. In order to make public comments, one needs to be at City Hall prior to 5:30 p.m. to sign up.
The budget, which is required to be passed by law, will affect every aspect of our life as a city resident. It will also chart a specific course of expenditures over the next twelve months from police to fire, to planning and the balance of city services upon which we all rely.
It is estimated the total budget will be in the neighborhood of $30 million.
Our city, like the rest of America is yet to fully recover from the recession which began in late 2008. Our city is in competition with other cities and towns across South Carolina and beyond in attracting economic activity and business including manufacturing, shopping, touring and dining.
In 1983 in order to facilitate the restoration of Front Street and the building of the Harbor Walk, a not-for-profit organization was formed called the Downtown Business Association (DBA). More than three years ago, the name of this organization was changed to the Georgetown Business Association (GBA). The mission statement was revised. The goal of the GBA today and over the past three years has been to serve as a catalyst in promoting broader economic vitality for the city as a whole and to recommend specific courses of action our city should take to improve the environment in which our citizens live.
Based on these efforts, much has been accomplished including the planning Charrette, funded by private contributions which led to a series of specific recommendations for improving our city. Many have been implemented. They include the new signage on the bridges, the new signage on our downtown streets and adjacent communities, an updated and more user-friendly City website. Other recommendations still in process include a tourism and economic development position in our city government and an enhanced entranceway to our city from Route 17 at Broad Street with our visitor’s center located at this same intersection.
The GBA is a totally volunteer organization providing hundreds of man-hours worth of work, which would cost the city enormous amounts of money without the generosity of its members. The GBA sponsors a Christmas Festival, the Jingle Walk, the Halloween event, the new Bridge-to-Bridge half marathon and a soon-to-be-announced music festival to take place this September, with bands from not only South Carolina, but neighboring states. This is designed to bring tourists and their resources to our city.
Last year, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, business contributions and resources from the city budget, the first-ever city advertising campaign was conducted to attract more visitors.
This Thursday we are urging all who are concerned about the future of our city to attend the city budget workshop at City Hall.
We have asked the city to set aside $200,000 from the city budget to fund this campaign. The results of the last campaign have already proven it to be a success.
Other cities of comparable size spend at least this amount of resources in advertising themselves. The reason why is simple. The more people who come to visit, the more they spend. The more they spend the more tax revenue the city receives. Once people come, they come again and bring their friends … again, increasing city revenues.
It is important for our city and its future to continue our advertising campaign, which amounts to a minuscule percentage of the city’s overall budget and which we are confident will succeed as well as bring resources into the city’s coffers and help fund the cost of this effort.
If you care, be there and speak out. Your future and the City’s depend on your participation.
Lynn Mueller is a veteran Republican campaign consultant who has joined Swatzel Strategies. His bi-monthly column in the Georgetown Times focuses on economics and politics.
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