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2020 vision
Rincon city manager discusses challenges in new year
Fire helmet
The City of Rincon and Effingham County Board of Commissioners are discussing the Rincon Fire Department's future role in providing fire protection in the southern portion of the county. - photo by File illustration

RINCON —  The Rincon City Council has a “major” item at the top of its 2020 to-do list.

“A decision needs to be made in our discussions and negotiations with (the Effingham County Board of Commissioners) about the future of the fire department,” Rincon City Manager John Klimm said Friday. “Historically, the City of Rincon has provided fire service to a portion of  the county. Well, the county is getting larger and larger, and its fire department is getting bigger and bigger, so there have been ongoing negotiations about where we are going to end up with that.

“There is no closure to that but that’s a major issue because we need to know where we are headed in terms of the future.”

Klimm said it is possible that the Rincon Fire Department’s service area, which matches Effingham County’s ISO rating of 3, could be reduced to the city limits.

“What that transition looks like remains to be seen,” Klimm said. “I think it is the county’s desire that (Effingham County Fire & Rescue) take over the remainder of the county.”

Effingham County Fire & Rescue is the primary fire service provider in every portion of the county except the one led by the Rincon Fire Department. The City of Guyton and City of Springfield disbanded their fire departments in favor of mergers with the county.

 The City of Rincon and Effingham County are also discussing service agreements in areas besides fire.

“We are looking to bring closure to that,” Klimm said. “That is a regular conversation that cities and counties have to determine who is going to provide what services. Between that and the future of the fire department, we are in fairly lengthy, complex conversations with the county.”

Service delivery agreements involve animal control, the library and more.

“Every service that the city and county provide needs to be delineated,” Klimm said. “You have to identify who is going to do what.”

Klimm expects the fire issue and others to be resolved before the end of the year.

Another important 2020 matter for the City of Rincon is transportation. It will receive help meeting its needs in this area if voters approve a single-county TSPLOST — a sales tax that can be used solely to fund transportation projects — in November.

A single-county TSPLOST can be levied up to five years at a fractional rate up to one percent in .05 increments if there is an intergovernmental agreement with qualified cities within the county. TSPLOST projects can include roads, bridges, public transit, rails, airports, buses, bicycle paths, sidewalks, right-of-way acquisition, drainage and more.

County Administrator Tim Callanan estimated that a one percent TSPLOST would generate $42 million over five years.

“We were asked by the county to come up with a list of road projects and we have done that,” Klimm said. “We haven’t heard much from the county in terms of the next step so we took the liberty in Rincon of drafting a TSPLOST resolution because the real issue is, first of all, are we going to support TSPLOST?

“I think the communities of the county are on board that we need a funding mechanism for transportation projects,. The question is — how is the pie going to get spread out between the cities and the county. Since no one was coming forward with a proposal, just to start the conversation, we drafted one and sent it to Springfield, Guyton and the county.

“Basically, what it did, is split up the funding based on population.”

Effingham County — its main arteries already frequently congested — is projected to increase its population by 25,000 residents by 2025. It currently has about 62,000, including about 12,000 in Rincon, the county’s largest municipality.

Ninety of Georgia’s 159 counties have a sales tax designated for transportation, including 24 that use the single-county TSPLOST.

“We are waiting to hear from Guyton, Springfield and the county in terms of the original proposal that we sent,” Klimm said. 

In another 2020 move, the Rincon City Council intends to puts its trash collection contract up for bid.

“That’s not really a reflection on the quality of the present service,” Klimm said. “It’s just, from time to time, a city needs to put it out to bid just to make sure it is getting the best deal. In January and early February, we will be vary involved in that whole process.”

Waste Management currently handles Rincon’s trash collection. The monthly cost for a residence is $15.50 (one regular roll cart and one recycle cart).

Klimm said the City of Rincon is always searching for ways to save money. During the last fiscal year -- Klimm’s first on the job — the city council reduced its annual budget to $9.9 million. It was $15 million and $16 million the previous two years.

The City of Rincon’s current budget is $11.9 million.

 “We are living within our means and we are only taking on capital projects that we can complete,” Klimm said. “In the past, they put projects in the budget that might be three, four or five years out and that just didn’t make any sense.”

Klimm said the city intends to continue to upgrade its operation at Lost Plantation Golf Club, which received new golf carts last year. Its clubhouse and restaurant received substantial renovations, too.

“I just had lunch there, actually, and it’s doing better and better everyday,” he said. “We are trying to improve staff and I think 2020 is going to be a good year.”

Klimm lauded the efforts of city officials to help him do his job on behalf of citizens.

“I am blessed with a city council that doesn’t always agree but they never have been disagreeable,” he said. “If you compare that to some other places, you can see how blessed we are.”