Part of approaching any new year is taking stock of where you are and thinking through where you want to go over the next 12 months. In our administration’s first six months, we have made progress in several areas. However, we know there is much work to do as we position Hattiesburg to be a premier city in the Gulf South.
As 2017 came to a close, I met with directors in all of our departments and stakeholders across the community. We discussed goals for 2018, and several themes emerged from those conversations.
1. We need to build on our strengths.
2. We need to grow and cultivate the next generation of Hattiesburg citizens.
3. We need to ensure every neighborhood sees progress- in public safety, infrastructure and plans for future projects.
4. We need to tell our story- past, present and future.
5. We need, as the City of Hattiesburg, to become a more credible, modern, responsive and citizen centered organization.
Financially and organizationally, your city government still faces challenges. Our financial shortcomings limit our capacity to support our youth, enhance public safety, invest in infrastructure and improve overall quality of life. However, these current challenges will not limit us making measured progress in 2018.
First, understand that we put forward goals not simply to wish and dream. We study over them, identify them and present them to you so that we can be held accountable at the end of this year. Our criteria was “ambitious yet achievable.” Moreover, we wanted them to be measurable.
Secondly, we did not create goals around each individual project. We kept goals around infrastructure somewhat general in scope. For example, the goals may be to “make sure every neighborhood sees some paving,” as opposed to “pave Bouie Street” (which we hope to do). Some of these goals came directly from your comments as we solicited input.
Finally, this list is a 360-foot view. I have challenged all of our directors to look at ways they can move the needle this year to meet our overarching goals, and many of those exist to set benchmarks on long-term projects or to boost efficiency.
Objective 1: Build on our strengths.
Find the playmakers in our community – whether in our city workforce, non-profits, universities, neighborhoods/business districts or private business and industry – and empower them to go farther.
Specific goals (11):
1. Pass two rounds of land development code revisions in an effort to reduce undue regulation
2. Create a position of business ombudsman to assist businesses through the permitting process
3. Upgrade downtown lighting
4. Work to build consensus with stakeholders on a plan to fund Reed Green Coliseum renovation
5. Finalize design, complete preliminary demolition/asbestos abatement and secure financing for new police station at Hall Avenue and Edwards Street
6. Complete Longleaf Trace extension to the Leaf River
7. Wayfinding signage along, to and from trails that lead to Longleaf Trace
8. Finalize design and secure financing for Hattiesburg Community Arts Center
9. Updated Hub City transit routes that include the Southern Miss campus
10. Engage neighborhood, business and William Carey University stakeholders in Twin Forks Rising to do a design charrette on the future of Edwards Street and Tuscan Avenue.
11. Average 25 new curbside recycling signups per month
Objective 2: Grow and cultivate the next generation of Hattiesburg citizens.
Whether in the Hattiesburg Public School District, our universities/community college or with young professionals, provide the support and programming to prepare the next generation to find a job and take on the mantle of citizenship in Hattiesburg.
Specific goals (5):
1. 50 community mentors working in the Hattiesburg Public School District
2. Approval for an updated capital improvements plan for HPSD academic facilities
3. Two additional recreational opportunities for young professionals through city programming
4. Study and initiate one new proactive, research-based criminal justice intervention in Municipal Court
5. Launch an innovative talent and resident retention program for city young professionals
Objective 3: Ensure every neighborhood sees progress- in public safety, infrastructure and future plans for projects.
Lay the foundation to build a seamless city, where momentum and stability do not waiver based on which area of Hattiesburg you are in. Empower residents to make aspirations for their own neighborhoods and invest in that success.
Specific goals (12):
1. Pave 20 miles of road in the City of Hattiesburg – (click for the current paving schedule)
2. One water project and one sewer project in each ward
3. At least one paving project in 90% of Hattiesburg neighborhoods
4. Construct or complete 20 blocks of sidewalks
5. HPD staffing up to 107 officers by year’s end
6. Begin construction on fire station #9 on Highway 49
7. Work with neighborhoods and HFD to choose location, acquire land and secure financing for rebuild of permanent Station #2
8. Improve the appearance of Hardy Street between Highway 49 and Downtown with two additional public art projects
9. Five new covered shelters for bus stops throughout the city
10. Establish one entertainment district in Twin Forks Rising
11. Pass a rental ordinance to help enhance quality of life in all neighborhoods
12. Create infrastructure plans for half of the city’s neighborhood associations
Objective 4: Tell our story- past, present and future.
Strengthen the identity of Hattiesburg residents with their city through communicating unique parts of our history, current happenings and how the city will move forward.
Specific goals (4):
1. Create a “Hattiesburg Historic Site” designation and delineate 4 sites in 2018
2. Updated Web site for the City of Hattiesburg, including a community calendar
3. Establish clear timelines and funding mechanism for strategic plan
4. Create a periodic electronic newsletter available via email
Objective 5: Make the City of Hattiesburg a more credible, modern, efficient, responsive and citizen-centered organization.
While every organization will continue to evolve, 2018 needs to bring marked improvement in the overall health of the internal operations, budget practices and customer service of the City of Hattiesburg.
Specific goals (8):
1. Finish audits for FY 2016 and 2017 and start on FY 2018
2. Earn restoration of Moody’s rating
3. Create mechanism to give notice for water service disconnection ahead of time
4. Finish and release smart phone app to report public works and code violations
5. More recycling options for apartments/businesses
6. Conduct comprehensive customer service and leadership training for 30% of city workforce
7. Establish survey system to collect customer satisfaction data on interactions with city departments
8. Implement videoconferencing capability for initial appearances in municipal court