The crooning of "Auld Lang Syne" ushers out each year. Its odd lyrics describe a universally understood message of reflection and farewell. And what follows are the hopes, plans and resolutions for the New Year.
Benjamin Franklin penned his own New Year's thoughts in the 1755 edition of "Poor Richard Improved." He advised readers: "Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better (person)." Too bad those words aren't also set to music!
Town Council "rang in" priorities for 2018 to guide the work we do. Borrowing from an analogy I recently read, each priority is like a melody. However, the combination of efforts on all priorities simultaneously produces something even better - a harmony.
It's a beautiful harmony, and an opportunity to move toward the best goal of all - that of a wholesome, sustainable community of Islanders.
The 2018 priorities are not really new; they are similar to last year's, because each is long-term in nature.
At this point, significant investments of time and resources have resulted in information gathering, analyses, planning and implementation.
Town staff is fully engaged in this work and all citizens are invited to get involved and stay involved!
Here are the priorities:
- Hurricane Recovery. We began with $26 million in reserves, issued debt totaling $38 million, spent $51 million, and have been reimbursed $33 million. Even with a potential additional $16 million of repairs, we are nearly recovered. Reserves stand at $18 million (more would be better).
Funds are available to retire $20 million Bond Anticipation Notes. The $18 million bonds used to re-establish reserves will be repaid over their term, and more quickly if possible.
- Visioning. Participation has been extraordinary and growing! Stay tuned for the final Community Vision Report, including a recommended action plan for the future.
- Venue Committee. A plan for producing a true community arts center will be developed.
- Gullah-Geechee Preservation. Recommendations are emerging from the Gullah-Geechee Task Force to "turn the tide" on erosion of the Gullah-Geechee lands, peoples and culture. We are prepared to implement strategies for resolving sustainability issues, including heirs' property.
- Workforce Development and Affordable Housing. The Public Planning Committee is developing both policies and recommendations. Everyone is being included in the process and a workshop in January is anticipated.
- Infrastructure. This means the bridges, the roads, the sewers, the technology. We are working on each component simultaneously and will continue to advance plans and recommendations while identifying necessary resources for these initiatives.
- Regionalism. Bold regional alliances have been initiated with more to come. In addition, the Intergovernmental Relations and Public Safety Committee will examine the Town's agreements with Beaufort County, bringing clarity and equity to those relationships.
To quote author and pastor Andy Stanley, "Direction, not intention, determines destination." These priorities provide such direction, and working daily to achieve each one of them will cause us to arrive at a place we will call community - a perfect place - where together we plan for the known and allow for the unknown.
Sounds like a great tune to me!
David Bennett is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. DavidB@hiltonhead islandsc.gov. For more details on each priority, sign up for the Mayor's newsletter at MayorDavidBennett.com.