December 6, 2018, City Council Workshop

Savannah City Government



December 6, 2018 – 10:00 a.m.

PRESENT: Mayor Eddie DeLoach, Presiding

Aldermen: Carol Bell, Julian Miller, Brian Foster, Bill Durrence, John Hall, Tony Thomas, Van Johnson, II, Estella Shabazz (arrived at 10:35 a.m.)

Rob Hernandez, City Manager

Bret Bell, Assistant to the City Manager

Brooks Stillwell, City Attorney

William Shearouse, Assistant City Attorney

City Manager Hernandez welcomed everyone to the meeting and briefly reviewed the agenda.

Workshop Agenda Items
1. 2019 Legislative Agenda

City Manager Hernandez stated he doesn’t think there is enough time to get through the draft legislative agenda, but because there are some guests he would like to get through at least one item.

Bret Bell, Assistant to the City Manager, stated if Council recalls part of the legislative agenda last year was designating the Savannah area as a logisticstechnology corridor, which was successful. Council tasked the City Manager and staff with figuring out what that was going to be. He then asked Manny Dominguez, Office of Business Opportunity Director, to briefly explain.

Mr. Dominguez stated essentially a task force was created with a broad set of expertise to add some meat to the bones. The State designated the area, but this group over the last several months have met to add the specifics. Two representatives from the group who have been spearheading the initiative were present, Keith Fletcher and Jen Bonet. Mr. Dominguez stated Keith was the catalyst for a lot of this and Jen in her new role as Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and in her role directing the Creative Coast has also been a great leader in helping to pull everything together.

Ms. Bonet stated she is here representing a larger task force who have crafted a vision for this corridor to determine how it should be activated. She stated they have met all summer and fall with the goal to craft a vision and plan to make it vibrant, which could be done in a number of ways. They want to attract companies and create jobs for the corridor with the goal to turn Savannah into the center of all things logistics/tech.Ms. Bonet continued stating the corridor was originally a very small area but the task force determined the area needed to be expanded. She stated for Savannah they wanted to ensure a couple of key places were included, such as: the Port; Georgia Southern-Armstrong campus; and Savannah Advanced Manufacturing Center. She stated the first ask of the Legislature will be to expand the existing corridor. Ms. Bonet stated Savannah is already a hub for transportation, logistics and advanced manufacturing but the task force agrees that technology should be added. She stated the plan is four stages: community building; education; acceleration incubation; and incentives and regulatory changes. She concluded stating they will ask the State for funding to expand and develop on the curriculum specifically around logistics technology, and incentives around increasing angel investment capitals into the community to generate startups. The total amount is $52 million over five years from the State.

Alderwoman Shabazz stated her only observation was that only two universities in the County were named, Georgia Southern and Savannah Tech, but not Savannah State. She asked if they were being left out or are they not involved. Ms. Bonet replied they would love to have them involved but to date their efforts to reach out to people have been unsuccessful as they obviously aren’t reaching the right person. She asked if she knew who needed to be contacted to please let her know. Alderwoman Shabazz replied the president of the university.

Alderman Miller asked without specifics if the space to be renovated has been identified. Ms. Bonet replied they have not; the first year they are looking to do a study to identify the right location for it, and year two the renovation process will begin.

Alderman Thomas stated if it was combined with his site, they would get a military tax credit for hiring people. Ms. Bonet replied that is a possibility and she will defer to a site selection committee.

Alderwoman Shabazz asked with Savannah being chosen as one of the corridors in Georgia, what was the exact amount of money that goes along with that. Ms. Bonet replied this is an ask and being chosen promises no money, now they are going to make an ask. Keith Fletcher added the first thing necessary is to make it exist, now we are putting meat on it and making the ask. Ms. Bonet added they estimate to create approximately 4,000 high wage paying jobs in five years.

Alderman Durrence confirmed that it was stated Augusta received $100 million in one year. Ms. Bonet replied yes for the development of the Georgia Cyber Center. Alderman Durrence replied we should ask for what should be appropriate, and asked if the ask from Savannah is enough? Ms. Bonet replied she thinks one of the key things is that they are basing this on existing space and renovation.

Alderwoman Shabazz stated our graduates from our universities always have to go out to other places, and leave the City to find a job. She stated since the City has been chosen she believes it would be great to ask for more money, to be taken seriously so that future students in our community can stay and grow with our City. Mr. Fletcher added that was one of the initial goals, as we have to build 21st century jobs here, and that is what this will do.

Alderman Durrence asked if she knows what the investment was in Tech Square. Ms. Bonet replied she doesn’t, and they are trying to get more details on the specifics on some of these projects. She reminded Council that Tech Square was 15 years ago.

Alderman Miller asked if there was a local buy-in in the other towns. Ms. Bonet replied that is an area where we have not done a lot of research. Alderman Miller asked when Augusta received $100 million, did they put in money as well. Ms. Bonet replied yes, they did put in money. Her understanding was that they owned the land that the building was built on and they paid for and put in the parking decks that are attached to the building. Alderman Millerstated the point is and maybe it needs to be assumed but asking for more money means upgrading the plan as well, which means a lot more work on your part. Mr. Fletcher replied they are willing to do the work, which could help with the student loans and cluster grants, but if we are looking for a bigger facility that will take a lot more work to do. He continued stating if the size of the facility is doubled they would have to figure out what to do with it. But because they are asking for it over a period of time, it can be adjusted over time and they can always go back and ask for more, whereas Augusta had to ask all at once.

Alderman Thomas asked if they have looked at specific sites. Ms. Bonet replied they have looked at some sites, but are open to ideas, but it has to make sense.

Alderman Foster asked how much discussion has been held with the Legislative delegation. Mr. Fletcher replied quite a bit and has had a lot of discussions over the last few months with a large percentage of the delegation.

City Manager Hernandez stated for the legislative agenda for next year, we will include this and dedicate time to helping to move this along.

2. Municipal Sponsorship Ordinance
Municipal Sponsorships Presentation 120618.pdf

City Manager Hernandez welcomed everyone and briefly reviewed the agenda. He stated Joe Shearouse, Jr., with the City Manager’s Officer, would be discussing two related items, one of which relates to an item on the Council agenda today in reference to the naming of the Cultural Arts Center. He stated Council asked staff to explore opportunities for naming facilities and opportunities for sponsorships which Mr. Shearouse will explain.

Joe Shearouse, with the City Manager’s Office, discussed the proposed process for handling naming rights for sponsorships. He stated he researched particular policies from other communities and is here today to review the draft and obtain feedback from Council.

Mr. Shearouse provided Council with the purpose and goals which were as follows:

  • Codify the use of municipal sponsorships to enhance City services, offset program costs, and or generate new revenue
  • Establish consistent procedures
  • Clarify the sponsorship process
  • Empower City staff to explore potential opportunities

He continued stating they looked at a variety of communities all who use sponsorships to varying degrees. He stated the university systems use them more than local governments as they have large fundraising arms and are more involved in raising money from alumni and other sources.

Mr. Shearouse provided Council with a distinction between a donation and a sponsorship stating:

  • A donation is a gift voluntarily given where no reciprocal commercial benefit is received or expected.
  • A sponsorship is a contractual business relationship between two entities that exchange things of value.

He then highlighted what this ordinance would do stating it will primarily create a process for how the City would handle both solicited and unsolicited sponsorships. He stated one large thing it will do is require all the funds generated through a sponsorship be used by that particular service, facility or program. Other protections include no direct political affiliation, approval by City Council, ownership and control. He stated many items are straightforward but staff wanted to codify them to ensure the process is clear should the City decide to pursue any sponsorship opportunities.

Mr. Shearouse then discussed what the ordinance does not do stating it is not involved with donations, has no affiliation with grants, it is not associated with the naming process, which was recently passed which is an honorary process and is separate.

He then briefly described the differences between the solicited and unsolicited sponsorship processes stating:

  • A solicited sponsorship is where the idea of a sponsorship opportunity is generated within City staff. Staff would write an RFP proposal geared towards a particular facility or program; it would then be released to the community for an opportunity for anyone to bid on, then scored and awarded by City Council. This is the same process used for all RFP’s for the competitive procurement process.
  • An unsolicited sponsorship is one where an entity would come to the City with the sponsorship idea, and they would be required to submit certain information to the City to help staff determine if this is a good direction to go. The next step would be for the City Manager to appoint staff to evaluate the process for recommendation to Council, or recommend staff release an RFP for additional opportunity, or deny for lack of significant value.

Mr. Shearouse stated the basic premise of the ordinance is creating a structure, it’s not a complicated structure. He stated the majority would go through the competitive RFP process, but it does create an unsolicited route which was found in other communities which can also provide some benefit. He concluded the presentation stating Council has been provided with a copy of the draft ordinance to review.

Alderman Foster asked if the City has ever done a sponsorship, with a signed agreement. Mr. Shearouse replied he’s not aware of one. Marty Johnston, Chief Operating Officer, replied Coca Cola at the Civic Center is an RFP that goes out and they bring it back proposing to give the City certain things that will display Coca Cola, for example the scoreboard.

Alderman Thomas asked if someone wanted to do a sponsorship at the Coffee Bluff Marina placing signage on the docks, is that something this ordinance would cover. Mr. Shearouse replied yes and this would provide clarity for that process.

3. Cultural Arts Center Naming Feedback
Naming Survey Presentation 12.1.18.pdf

City Manager Hernandez stated if Council will recall the item regarding the naming of the Cultural Arts Center and the solicitation of public input.

Mr. Shearouse stated on October 11th staff submitted an agenda item to approve the naming of the Cultural Arts Center to the Savannah Cultural Arts Center, and was instructed by City Council to reach out to public to provide some potential naming opportunities. He stated what happens in the building has a wide range of activities that will take place. He stated it’s not one particular art form, and classes, and meeting space, exhibits and galleries. He continued stating it’s a multi-use facility which touches on all forms of art. Mr. Shearouse stated the purpose and main goal of the survey was to gain public feedback of potential names, it is not a public opinion poll, it’s just a means for us to gain feedback from the public on their ideas. He continued stating the survey ran for 28 days, 163 responses were received, and that consisted of four multiple choice options and one open-ended option to suggest any names. Mr. Shearouse stated outreach was done through social media and through the City’s news outlets.

Alderman Johnson asked how we address the challenges for those citizens that do not have computer access, are not online or are not computer savvy. Mr. Shearouse replied this survey was online and was computer based, but if more extensive public outreach was done, staff would have conducted town meetings, etc.

Mr. Shearouse continued the presentation, briefly reviewing the submissions received stating the majority of the submissions were single name suggestions. He stated the Cultural Arts Center was the largest submission received, followed by Savannah Center for the Arts. He continued stating the submissions were divided into two categories, natural person names and facility based. He briefly highlighted a few that stuck out, one was for a local artist named Bobi Perry, Virginia Kiah, a community art advocate, Dunbar Cultural Arts Center, which references the Dunbar Theatre on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and Conrad Aiken and William Pleasant among many others. Mr. Shearouse stated a few things he wanted Council to get from the survey are that the Savannah Cultural Arts Center received the majority of the selections, and should Council be interested in going a different route it would have to go through the Article E naming process, which is a two to three month process with the Metropolitan Planning Commission to accept the particular name, which includes historical research. He stated if Council is interested in doing this staff would need some time to go through that process. He concluded stating there is an item on the Council agenda today to move forward with the Savannah Cultural Arts Center name, which has gone through the naming process. However, if Council feels that is not the route they want to go staff welcomes their position on other naming opportunities.

Alderman Hall stated it is referred to as the Cultural Arts Center now, when Savannah is added it puts some ownership to it, and he thinks Council should go with that.

Aldermen Miller, Durrence, and Bell all agreed. Alderman Durrence added when a personal name is put on anything it creates the risk of problems down the road.

Alderman Foster agreed, stating about 50% of the respondents said Savannah should be in the name. He continued stating when SPLOST was passed he believes Savannah was in the name and believes Council should move forward.

4. Real Estate, Personnel, Litigation

Upon motion of Alderman Miller, seconded by Alderwoman Bell, and unanimously carried Council went into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing Personnel, Real Estate and Litigation.

Upon completion of this session, a motion was made to come out of Executive Session by Alderman Johnson, seconded by Alderman Durrence, and unanimously carried.

5. City Manager's Briefing / Council Meeting Agenda Items for December 6, 2018

City Manager Rob Hernandez presented the City Manager’s Briefing of the agenda items for the Council Meeting of November 20, 2018. The agenda can be found online and will be made a part of the permanent record.

During the City Manager’s review Ashley Simpson, Revenue Director, briefly reviewed the Revenue Ordinance. She stated she wanted to highlight and review some of the major changes beginning with the Utility Discount Program.

Article U outlines Utility Services Fees, which includes the City’s current elderly low income and disabled low income credit. Ms. Simpson briefly reviewed the requirements to receive the credit. She stated staff wants to remarket the programs, and have retitled it H20C (Help to Our Community). There will be a big kick off in January 2019, which will include a press conference and taking it out to the senior centers and adult day cares. She stated presently it is a $16 bi-monthly ($96.00 year) discount and is being updated to $29.67 bi-monthly (total $178.02 year). She stated they believe that is an amount that is more fair as compared to the total of utility bills. She stated the basis for the calculation will always be the base charge plus one unit.

Alderman Miller stated that is hard to explain to someone that doesn’t deal with this a lot. Ms. Simpson replied citizens won’t see the base charge plus one unit language they will only see the monthly discount.

City Manager Hernandez stated something that has been added as part of the fee schedule changes is the Cultural Arts Center. Typically what is done is staff looks at all fees and compares it to market conditions, additionally they look at the last time fees were adjusted and look at CPI and determine if it is appropriate to adjust.

Ms. Simpson added that all changes are in your budget document. She stated there is a section that shows the millage rate change. A section rewrite for the Cultural Arts Center, with acknowledgment that staff may need to adjust once the center opens during the mid-year adjustment.

Alderwoman Bell asked about charges for camp fees. Ms. Simpson replied those are cultural arts camps, and are charges for one week sessions.

Alderman Johnson inquired about discounts for impoverished citizens. Ms. Simpson replied there is not currently a sponsorship program for cultural arts camps.

Taffayne Young, Chief Community Services Officer,stated many of these classes are longer than one week, some are six to eight weeks. She added there are different camps at the community centers. Alderman Johnson added we want people to take advantage of the new Cultural Arts Center and believes this is not making it very conducive for people to get there as the barrier might be the fees. Ms. Young replied staff will look at the length of time. Alderman Johnson asked is it on a payment schedule or sliding scale for parents with multiple kids. Ms. Young replied staff will come back with a plan.

Ms. Simpson continued with the presentation briefly discussing Article R, facility rates fees, reviewing the comparisons for nonprofits. She also reviewed film permit fees, to include the application fee, rush and amendment fees.

The Revenue Ordinance is on file in the Office of the Clerk of Council.

There being no further business Mayor DeLoach declared this City Council Work Session adjourned.

Part One:

Part Two:

Luciana M. Spracher, Acting Clerk of Council
Agenda Plus