Clarkesville Officials Gather For Annual Planning Retreat

Spending time discussing community is always time well spent. 


From routine business to other topics colored with a touch of whimsy, Clarkesville officials are maintaining positivity despite obvious concerns related to the pandemic. Members of the Clarkesville City Council and city staff gathered on Aug. 7 to talk about current issues and to do a bit of dreaming about the future. 


Planning for the 2021 budget is underway. A public hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. on September 14. Helping taxpayers understand the city’s taxation formula is an ongoing challenge. To assist with that, a one-page explanation will be included in the upcoming budget presentation.  


Other conversations centered around fee structures. A comparison to other municipalities and the county will direct a review of city fees for licenses, permits, utilities and planning and development services provided by the city. Development ordinances are also under review by the Planning Commission. 


An appropriate interpretation of the chain of command was also on the agenda. Facilitator Gordon Maner with the Carl Vinson Institute reminded the group the role of the elected body is to set policy and direction for the city and the role of staff is to execute policy and direction and manage the operations of the city. Maner cautioned council members to maintain professionalism in discussing city matters. 


A bright spot is the receipt of a $25,000 grant to pay for cleaning and other supplies needed to keep city facilities virus-free. According to City Manager Keith Dickerson, additional funding is expected. 


Other items discussed: 

  • After-hours contact number for public access to information. 
  • Mary Street Park. Improvements discussed include renovations to the community house, moving the pavilion and researching the addition of a dog park.
  • Homeless settlement. City staff and law enforcement personnel will continue to monitor the homeless settlement under the Highway 197 bridge. The city will conduct periodic clean-up initiatives to address littering. 
  • Speed enforcement. The city will request Georgia State Patrol to provide more active enforcement on state roads inside the city limits. Additional solutions could be tag readers, period roadblocks and traffic calming devices [speed tables, etc.]. City Manager will present options and associated costs at a future meeting.
  • Planning and development process.
  • Ordinance for golf cart usage on city streets. 
  • Website upgrade. Upgraded website will include new agenda, calendar software, online payments and form completion. 
  • Main Street program. A part-time employee is being considered for the visitor center at the Historic Mauldin House. 
  • Downtown Development Authority bylaws and management.