Incorporation Town Halls Draw More Than 1,000 Attendees
The five Incorporation Town Hall meetings hosted recently by The Landings Association were well-attended, with a cumulative total of more than 1,000 attendees. At each of the five sessions, nearly everyone in attendance raised their hands when asked if they would like the opportunity to vote on incorporation in November 2018.
Over the past few months, five Study Committees focused on whether Skidaway Island as a city could provide the same or higher level of service for equal or fewer tax dollars as Chatham County. To do so, the Study Committees examined the areas of Tax/Finance, Governance/Administration, Police/Court, Public Works/Engineering, and Planning/Zoning.
The final answer is a resounding “yes”, the City of Skidaway Island could provide equal or better services to what currently is provided by Chatham County. Following are the highlights of the committees’ findings.
- The City of Skidaway Island could provide the same or better services for fewer tax dollars.
- There is potential for revenue of $8.5 million with projected expenditures of $6.5 million.
- Annual net revenues for the City of Skidaway Island would come to $2 million.
- There would be a one-time startup cost for the city of almost $1 million.
- In the first year, the City of Skidaway Island would be able to start a Reserve Fund.
- The City of Skidaway Island would have to establish police in some form. This could be achieved by forming its own police department or contracting with Chatham County. At the recent Landings Legislative Roundtable, the County expressed interest in further discussing the issue of contracting police services if incorporation was determined to be the direction residents of Skidaway Island would like to take.
- If police services were contracted with Chatham County, there would be only five City employees, based on Study Committees reviews.
- If a new police department were formed, it would include positions for Chief, Sergeant, Detective, Training Officer, Patrol Officers, and a Clerical position.
- The City also would include an on-island Municipal Court in charge of city ordinances and traffic violations. There would be part-time positions for a judge, attorney, public defender, and a customer service representative/court clerk. There would not be a jail.
- The City of Skidaway Island would collect Southside Fire subscriptions at tax time instead of separate billing. This would just be a pass-through billing, with no tax or fee increase.
- The City could provide operational support to The Village Library. Supplementing The Village Library with an annual fee would help the Library with its financials and be one of the three services needed for the City of Skidaway Island to qualify for Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funds. However, there would be no change to the day-to-day operations of the Library.
- There would be nonpartisan elections for the Mayor and City Council members.
- There would need to be a place to house the few city employees. One option is to rent space in The Village. This is the scenario that the Governance/Administration Study Committee used in its research, as it is the highest cost and, therefore, the most conservative approach.
- In the area of Planning/Zoning, there would be a paid position for one Building Inspector.
Many questions were raised at the sessions. To view a complete list of questions and answers related to incorporation, please click here.
At this point, feedback is being reviewed, and in December the entire island community (The Landings, South Harbor, Modena, Green Island Road, and The Marshes residents) will decide whether to move forward with a vote.
If the island community decides to proceed with incorporation, the next steps will look like this:
- January 2018 - Work with State Representative Jesse Petrea and State Senator Ben Watson to finalize a Draft City Charter
- January - April 2018 - Receive approval from State Legislature and Governor allowing a vote
- November 6, 2018 - Skidaway Island vote (registered Skidaway Island voters only)
- March 19, 2019 - If vote passes, elect first Mayor and City Council (nonpartisan)
- July 2019 - July 2021 - City services phase in over up to two-year period beginning July 1, 2019
To find out more about the potential incorporation of Skidaway Island, including reading a detailed report of the Study Committees, the Andrew Young Financial Feasibility Study, the Current Draft City Charter, and district maps, please click www.Landings.org/Incorporation or