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General County News

Posted on: January 25, 2024 | Last Modified on: January 25, 2024

Hall County Government celebrates 2023 accomplishments

HCGC-Oct. 2013-photoshopped2.jpg

Hall County Government is proud to have accomplished many things in 2023 through the vision and leadership of the Hall County Board of Commissioners and the coordination of Hall County staff. The following represents some of those achievements; however, it does not capture every success, including the many that were made by individual County employees. 

GENERAL

  • Hall County Government fully implemented changes to the County’s wage and compensation structure based on the 2022 comprehensive study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. These changes ensure Hall County remains competitive in the hiring market and able to retain talented employees. 
  • The County broke ground on the Hall County Health Department campus project alongside officials from the Department of Public Health and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. The project includes a new 8,000 sq. ft. facility and renovations to the existing building, civil work, new parking spaces, an access drive and a drive-thru clinic component. The $11 million project is expected to be completed in 2025.
  • Hall County Government launched its first Hall County Magazine in October, which highlighted public safety, parks and leisure, courts, transportation and infrastructure, and more. Hard copies were dispersed at all Hall County community centers, library branches and the Hall County Government Center, and a digital copy can be found at www.hallcounty.org.  

ANIMAL SERVICES

  • In June, Hall County Animal Services implemented Urgent Adoption Notices by recommendation of Best Friends Animal Society, which has resulted in a 100% adoption and rescue rate since the implementation. 
  • In 2023, there was an increase in adoptions by 580 animals. 
  • Animal Services joined in a pet store partnership with Petco in Cumming to house adoptable cats at their location. 
  • There were 20 offsite events in 2023, which included adoptions and vaccine clinics to better serve Hall County citizens and animal owners in need of pet services.  

COURTS

  • Pretrial Services, a department of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit Court Administration, moved to a new location off Jesse Jewel Parkway in Gainesville, which also houses the North Central Alternate Defender Office and offers increased capacity to serve citizens. 
  • Hall County Courts unveiled a new Jury Assembly room at the Hall County Courthouse, which added modern check-in features and increased capacity from 120 people to 225 people, with an additional 2,600 sq. ft. This project was completed in August with a $1.4 million budget funded by SPLOST VII and Capital Projects. 
  • Hall County Superior and State Court made court documents viewable online and enabled online purchasing and downloading. 
  • Superior Court heard and decided on a record number of cases, continuing a strategic focus on cases that were backlogged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An information desk was created and implemented for courthouse visitors in need of assistance.  

ELECTIONS

  • The Hall County Elections Department successfully conducted municipal elections, including special elections in Flowery Branch and Lula. 
  • Redistricting was completed for all Hall County municipalities. 
  • Hall County Elections partnered with Hall County Emergency Management & Homeland Security to develop the “Elections Safety Model,” which was presented statewide and used as an exemplary model for other elections offices across the nation.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • Hall County E-911 expanded its communications through a partnership with Jackson County Public Safety and its new radio system, making Hall County a regional radio system provider. The upgraded system allows Hall and Jackson counties’ public safety departments to communicate directly, which serves both communities in times of crisis and mutual aid scenarios. 
  • E-911 completed the migration of its existing Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) infrastructure system and upgraded its 911 Viper 7 phone system, which enhanced software and replaced hardware on the 911 phone system. 
  • In January, Emergency Management coordinated the implementation of Hall County Government Center’s Security Training and Safety Plan, ensuring Government Center employees are well-trained in maintaining the safety of staff and visitors in the case of an emergency. 
  • Emergency Management hosted a HazMat training exercise at Lanier Technical College. This was a multi-jurisdictional public safety event that allowed first responders an opportunity to practice coordination and response to a large-scale disaster.   

FINANCIAL SERVICES

  • In September 2023, Hall County Financial Services received the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for fiscal year 2022. This marked the 31st consecutive year that the County has received this award. 
  • Hall County received an upgraded Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of AA+ from AA by Fitch Ratings, signifying the County’s high financial flexibility, which allows the County to effectively address any unexpected short-term spending pressures while maintaining intergovernmental contracts. 
  • In February, Financial Services implemented Munis by Tyler Technologies, a cloud-based accounting software with the ability to operate and support a high level of service and fiscal management, allowing the County to operate more efficiently with a growing population.  

FIRE RESCUE

  • Construction began on Fire Station 17, located off Holiday Road in Buford. The $6.3 million project is funded by SPLOST VII, SPLOST VIII, Impact Fees and Capital Projects. 
  • Eight new fire engines were added to HCFR’s fleet, completing the multi-year plan to replace its once-aging fleet. The new engines were deployed at stations 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 14. These engines provide additional storage space for life-saving equipment and are equipped with new technologies, communications systems, and environmentally friendly clean diesel engines. 
  • In August, the Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of a new fire boat to increase HCFR’s services on Lake Lanier and provide easy and effective ways of moving patients and equipment while responding to emergencies. The boat is expected to be delivered in December 2024.
  • HCFR paramedics were recognized by Northeast Georgia Medical Center for their outstanding early detection of stroke and heart attack patients, getting patients the proper early intervention needed for the best outcome following a medical emergency. 
  • Firefighters raised $60k from Hall County citizens during the annual Georgia Firefighter Burn Foundation’s (GFBF) Boot Drive, topping donations for the state for the eighth consecutive year. While 10% of funds are kept locally to assist with fire safety and burn prevention programs, the rest of the money raised is allocated to GFBF to aid burn victims in recovery. 
  • HCFR gained 48 new paramedics who graduated from Lanier Tech and Faithful Guardian training programs. 
  • Four firefighter training simulators were purchased in 2023 and include a flammable liquids and liquefied petroleum (LP) gas simulator, an automobile simulator, a roof ventilation simulator and a live structure fire simulator. These simulators play an integral role in HCFR training to better prepare firefighters for real-life scenarios.  

HUMAN RESOURCES

  • Hall County Risk Management developed the “Risk Management Strategic Plan” and partnered with the Communications division to develop “Hall CLEAR,” a safety-first campaign to help employees recognize risk and prevent incidents before they occur. 

MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS

  • In 2023, Hall County MIS continued its efforts to increase cybersecurity throughout Hall County Government by increasing training and cybersecurity certifications among MIS staff and implementing cybersecurity training for all Hall County Government employees, creating a safer and more secure network throughout Hall County Government. 

 PARKS

  • Hall County Parks entered into a Joint Management Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide management and operations services at Bolding Mill, Duckett Mill and Old Federal Campground. The agreement, which is among the first of its kind, will ensure these locations remain open to the public and allow for greater investment in park maintenance improvements. Reservations are now available for the 2024 season, which opens in March. 
  • Renovations were completed at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center to include an upgraded public address and sound system, a 25-foot extension of Arena A, construction of a new restroom and concession building, re-grading and painting of stalls in Barns A and B, and new stall mats. 
  • At River Forks Park, a partnership with Timberline Glamping was launched, creating seven new luxury camping sites that are the first of their kind on Lake Lanier. Amenities include beds, electricity, and heating and air conditioning. A new barrier gate operating system was also installed at the park. 
  • At Alberta Banks Park, a new pavilion with bleachers was constructed to provide shade and seating to pickleball players and spectators, and the existing GC Crow Pavilion was renovated to include new stonework on the walls and columns. Additionally, new fencing was installed around the tennis courts. 
  • At Cool Springs Park, new dugouts were added to the baseball fields and a new playground was installed. Landscaping upgrades were implemented to include new sod and 50 new trees in the park. 
  • The Splash Ground at Butler Park was completed and opened to the public in May. 
  • At North Hall Community Center, the fitness center was outfitted with all new equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes and weight-resistance equipment.  
  • Construction was completed on the Tumbling Creek section of the Highlands to Islands Trail. 

PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT

  • In 2023, all divisions of Hall County Planning and Development migrated to Accela, a permitting, licensing and development review software. This program allows applicants to submit and track permits, plats and zoning applications, as well as renew business licenses and submit payments through an online portal. Inspectors may now input inspection results in the field, and staff can more easily track the workflow status of applications. 
  • The Business License Division implemented DocuSign, allowing applicants to fill and sign documents from their home or business rather than having to appear in person.
  • Building Inspections processed 4,387 permits and issued 3,520 permits. 
  • Community Development and Infrastructure staff implemented an ambassador program to cross-train front-line employees in order to better serve citizens and improve customer service. 
  • Work on Hall County’s Unified Development Code (UDC) continued in 2023. A UDC combines zoning, subdivision, environmental, and other regulations into a single code that determines what kind of development happens in unincorporated Hall County, where it can be built and how dense it is. 
  • The Marshals heightened security at the Hall County Government Center by installing access control panels in all stairwells and the service elevator, creating additional safety measures for HCGC staff and visitors. 

PUBLIC WORKS

  • In 2023, Hall County Engineering resurfaced approximately 30 miles of roadways under the annual Road Resurfacing Program. The County sets aside $14 million a year to service the roadways included in the Road Resurfacing Program.   
  • As part of the Road Resurfacing Program, an interactive map was created by GIS staff that allows citizens and commuters to see which roadways are a part of the annual Road Resurfacing Program and view active and completed resurfacing projects.
  • The design and plans for the entrance road leading into Healan’s-Head’s Mill were substantially completed in 2023.
  • Design of the Lights Ferry Road/McEver Road Roundabout was completed, and the construction contractor was procured. This roundabout will replace the current signalized intersection and will alleviate traffic congestion in the area. 
  • Ground was broken on the Friendship Road Sewer Project, which will add 10,000 linear feet of force main sewer and 17,000 linear feet of gravity sewer lines to the growing Friendship Road corridor, meeting a critically important need in South Hall. This project is expected to be completed in summer 2024.
  • The first phase of the Spout Springs Road Widening Project, which stretches from Hog Mountain Road to Union Circle and covers a little more than three miles, was completed in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Transportation. 
  • The design of the White Sulphur Road realignment and the Cagle Road roadway improvement project was substantially completed in 2023. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2024, with expected completion in spring 2025. This project will enhance access to the 365 corridor for residents living on the north side of the railroad. 

SHERIFF’S OFFICE

  • In September, the advanced security camera project was completed at the Hall County Courthouse, creating a safer environment for courthouse employees and citizens. This new technology records footage, which can be used as evidence if an incident occurs. Since the installment, the parking deck cameras have assisted law enforcement in several hit-and-run accidents and vehicle theft cases. 
  • The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was in full force in 2023, following the transition of the Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (MANS) Unit in June of 2022. The work of this unit covers illegal drugs, gang and property crimes, and SIU investigators have expertise in intelligence gathering and computer and data analysis. 
  • The HCSO grew its K-9 force to 14 teams in 2023, making it one of the largest public safety K-9 units in the state of Georgia. 
  • In 2023, there was a renewed focus on officer wellness. HCSO personnel participated in the Georgia Resiliency Program, a 24-hour course that helps officers identify their stressors and how to respond in a positive way. 

TAX ASSESSORS OFFICE

  • The Hall County Tax Assessors Office implemented an online personal property filing system for businesses, manufacturers, and boat and aircraft owners. The online system allows property owners to file their personal property reporting forms online from the comfort of their home or business until midnight on the day of their deadline.

TAX COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE

  • In 2023, the Tax Commissioner’s Office launched a new and improved website (hallcountytax.org), featuring an expanded library of property tax and vehicle tag information, superb visuals and a user-friendly design. Other features include online bill pay, 24/7 assistance with an AI tax tag assistant, “Sidney,” and an easy online appointment system. 
  • Once again, the Tax Commissioner’s Office expanded its self-service kiosk network. The Office opened its new addition at Royal Lakes Kroger off Winder Highway, where thousands of taxpayers used the new kiosk to conveniently scan, pay and print their tag decal on the spot. 
  • The Tax Commissioner’s Office collected 95% of property taxes by mid-December, only one month after the due date of Nov. 15, ensuring timely funding for vital County services. This is on track with the Office’s nearly 100% collection rate for all prior years, largely due to the effective “Save a Trip … Skip the Line” media campaign and expanded payment options. 
  • The Tax Commissioner’s Office created user-friendly resources to educate residents on a wide variety of tax and tag matters. In addition to its website and social media outreach, the Office improved its communications and upgraded property tax e-Alerts, automated text renewal reminders and its convenient text messaging number 833-602-8497.  
  • The Tax Commissioner’s Office negotiated with its online bill pay vendor to reduce online transaction fees, saving taxpayers’ money.

Again, this list represents only a few of the County’s achievements in 2023. Hall County’s elected officials and staff look forward to continuing this legacy of success in 2024.

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