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Guyton forms Downtown Development Authority
Downtown Guyton
Guyton is forming a Downtown Development Authority which will spearhead efforts by the city to spur growth while also preserving historical facades. (Photo by Barbara Augsdorfer)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

The Guyton City Council voted to form a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) at its regular meeting on May 9. Noting how the DDA in Springfield has revitalized that city’s downtown businesses, City Manager Meketa Brown hopes businesses in downtown Guyton and its historic district will be revitalized and continue to grow.

“I would love to be able to get some facade grants available so these property owners could take advantage of them to improve the street scene of each of their shops,” Brown said. She added the business owners would be able to have current interiors, but the outsides could be more vintage, if they desired. For example, if business owners and the DDA decided on period lamp posts and signage, that would be a possibility.

According to the Georgia Municipal Association, DDAs may accept grants and apply for loans. Brown added that DDAs may also receive Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds from the city; but a DDA can also own property, which may be leased to a local business, and the rent paid to the DDA is used to fund other DDA initiatives. DDAs can also receive funds from local millage rates.

The DDA must also have a board consisting of local taxpayers/business owners serving on staggered two-year terms. The members are volunteers.

Upon receiving the affirmative vote from the city council, Brown introduced the members who have agreed to serve on DDA board: T. Marshall Reiser, city council member whose DDA term coincides with his city council term; Carl Heindel and Kaitlyn Thayer will serve two years; Tamela Mydell and Keith Lancaster will serve four years; and Miller Bargeron and Glenn Montgomery will serve six years.

“They’re all excited to serve on the DDA Board,” Brown added. She said they will attend the required training soon and she hopes to have regular meetings beginning in the fall. DDA meetings are open to the public.

Once the DDA is fully operational, Brown hopes to have the “giant T” revitalized. “My giant T” Brown said, “Is Hwy 17 north and south to the city limits and Hwy 119 east and west to the city limits.”

In other action, the Guyton City Council heard the first reading of the proposed 2024 budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024.

Among the budget items is an increase of $66,800 for the Guyton Police Department. Chief James Breletic said the funding increase is for additional officers, equipment, and the department is also looking to add a police department clerk so officers can spend more time in the field. The budget also shows a salary of $65,600 for a school resource officer, of which $59,200 is reimbursed by the Effingham County School district since the officer works predominantly at Guyton Elementary School during the school year, and as a patrol officer with the city when school is out of session.

The proposed budget also shows TSPLOST revenues of $260,000 and SPLOST revenues of $590,000.

The next Guyton City Council meeting will be June 13, at the Guyton Gymnasium, 505 Magnolia St., and beginning at 7 p.m.