Because of recent success, the City of Covington is receiving an additional $75,000 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program money from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Glenn Misner, DCA’s director of field services, said on Tuesday that the city had been awarded the additional money because it had been successful in spending its original allocation of $428,000.
He said three government entities, Cherokee County, Fayette County and the City of Warner Robins had all voluntarily returned their NSP money, because they decided the program was not a fit for them. The DCA then reallocated those funds to several other communities. Nearby Rockdale County received an additional $12,000.
City Planning Director Randy Vinson said he had received a phone call notifying him of the award, and said the money would hopefully to be used to purchase one or, possibly, two more homes. The city originally spent all of their money in early December by purchasing eight townhomes in the Walker’s Bend community, located off of Ga. Highway 81.
Vinson said the city will continue to look in Walker’s Bend, as well as other neighborhoods in the target census tract. Two neighborhoods that were previously targeted and are still being considered are Jefferson Village and Sterling Lakes.
The city has not yet received an official letter, but Misner said one is on the way. At Wednesday’s council meeting, Mayor Kim Carter said that Covington was the first entity in Georgia to spend all of its NSP money.
In related news, the city posted a Senior Planner position this week. The position had been vacant since former planner Michelle Larsen resigned on Dec. 4 to take a position with the consulting firm The Collaborative Firm.
Vinson said Wednesday that he and Personnel Director Ronnie Cowan would be handling the interviewing and hiring. Vinson said the main traits the city is looking for is a planner with the proper education and experience.
He said the duties of the senior planner are to handle rezoning applications and see how they fit in with the city’s comprehensive plan, ordinances and future land use map. The planner also helps with long range city planning, including updating the comprehensive plan and working on various housing and community development initiatives. The planner also makes staff reports to the planning commission and city council.
The pay grade for the position is between $45,000 and $60,000 depending on experience.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, City Manager Steve Horton informed the council of the job posting. He said although the budget is tight and many positions are not being filled, he and Cowan felt that the city needed the position because of the importance of the planning department and lack of resources currently there.
Cowan said Vinson was already stretched thin and, Horton said if Vinson was out of action for any length of time, there is no one else with the appropriate professional experience to fill in.
Horton said if the council decides it does not want to fill the position, no one will be hired. He also assured them that positions deemed non-essential would not be filled.
Cowan said when a planner is hired, he or she will likely take several months to get up to speed, which is why it’s important to get the position filled as quickly as possible.