By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Callanan issues update on county work
Tim Callanan
Tim Callanan

 RINCON — County Manager Tim Callanan’s administrative plate is overflowing.

 Effingham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Wesley Corbitt explained his situation during Thursday’s Rotary Club of Effingham County meeting at The Herald Center.

“As most of you know, our county probably has as much going on as any county in the country,” Corbitt said while introducing Callanan, the featured speaker. “There is a lot of growth, a lot of infrastructure issues ...”

Effingham County (70,500) ranks in the top three nationally in terms of population growth. The population has increased 34.38 percent since 2010.

Before surrendering the floor, Corbitt said that he believes Callanan is the right man to handle Effingham County’s challenges.

“We are so proud to have him on board,” Corbitt said.

After stepping up to the podium, Callanan updated the Rotarians on what he and the board are doing to prepare for continued growth.

“We are currently under a moratorium for high-density growth in the county,” he said. “This is the second moratorium that we’ve had. The board sees the problem and, rather than ignore it and allow subdivisions to get approved before we’ve addressed the problem, they’ve put a temporary pause on subdivision approval while we come up with a solution.

“This one is really to address a new issue that we just came across — folks are experiencing it all over the Southeast and all over the country — which are single-family detached neighborhoods that are  simply being bought up by real estate investment trusts and are being built out for rentals. It creates a series of problems that, if we don’t try and address this, folks will not necessarily be happy with some of the things coming to their neighborhoods.”

Callanan said the trusts can turn a subdivision into a mix of rentals with owner-occupied homes.

“It changes the whole dynamic of the neighborhood so want to try to address that and do it in a responsible way,” Callanan said. “... we want to provide opportunities for multi-family and rental housing but also protect the sanctity of these neighborhoods where they expect the houses to be owner occupied.

“It also drives up housing prices because you literally have large investment companies come in and buy up entire neighborhoods.”

Callanan also discussed projects that are being funded by voter-approved sales taxes. The include transportation, recreation and water/sewer enhancements.

“We don’t take that responsibility lightly,” he said. “Certainly, my staff doesn’t. We realize that we’ve got to deliver and we try to deliver on a timely basis.”

The county manager said considerable progress has been made on upgrading county roads thanks to the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST). Thirty-two of the 43 projects on the TSPLOST list are either complete or under contract for completion in the next four months.

Callanan said nine intersection improvements are also slated.   

“That literally leaves only two projects that we have yet to start,” Callanan said. “Those are the repaving of Hodgeville Road and the three-lane widening of Goshen Road. The only reason we haven’t started those is a lot of the intersection redesigning is on those roads.

“We want to get the redesigning done first and then come back in afterward and get those road projects done.”

Approved in November 2020, the TSPLOST was expected to generate about $45 million over a five-year span. Collections started in 2021.

“We will probably get these projects substantially complete or at least under contract within the next year or so, which puts us about two and half years into when we started collecting the TSPLOST so we are making very good time on the projects,” Callanan said.

Special Purpose Local Option Sales (SPLOST) projects are moving forward at a similar rate.

“SPLOST has some road projects that we will be starting as well but a lot of that is infrastructure in the county and the cities,” Callanan said. “A lot of it goes to parks and rec. We are currently doing our master plan for all of our parks to kind of step up what we offer to our citizens.”

The Effingham County Recreation Department has a record 950 participants in 12 sports.

“That’s crazy for a county our size,” Callanan said.

Callanan noted that the board is working on master plans in a variety of areas that were developed with citizen input.

“All that data will be used to develop the best products that we can and products that people want,” he said. “We are blessed in this county that we have an active group of citizens who participated in those (planning) sessions both online and in person.”

Callanan returned to the issue of roads before closing his remarks.

“As we start to get caught up, we will need to a process to determine what roads need to get worked on first ...” he said.

Callanan explained that the entire network of county roads will be analyzed and graded to determine which ones will be put at the front of the repaving line.

 Effingham County’s zoning codes are also under review, the county manager said.