Although the year presented a number of challenges, Hall County Government is proud to have accomplished many things in 2020 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. A video highlighting these accomplishments can also be found here.
- Staff worked with rescue organizations across the country, successfully sending more than 80 dogs to adoptive families in the Northern U.S.
- The Community Cat Program helped approximately 600 feral cats, humanely controlling the feral cat population in Hall County.
- The Hall County Animal Shelter was recognized with the Transformational Change Award from Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters.
- Animal Services was awarded a grant from the State of Georgia totaling $10,000 to assist in funding animal sterilization operations. The division also received a grant from the Petco Foundation totaling $35,000 to purchase pharmaceutical supplies for the shelter.
- Hall County produced its first State of the County video, which proved to be a significant communication tool as in-person State of the County appearances were canceled due to the pandemic.
- Meetings involving government bodies were broadcast live on the Hall County website, keeping government moving forward while remaining transparent and available to the public.
- Public comment was available to be made online, allowing citizens to remain engaged in their local government while keeping them protected during the pandemic.
- A comprehensive facility identification master plan was developed for consistent monument and wayfinding signage at all Hall County Government facilities.
- In partnership with the City of Gainesville, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and Northeast Georgia Health System, Hall County launched the hALL IN campaign, a community-wide health initiative encouraging mask wearing in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- The public was made aware of ongoing developments and operational changes in light of the pandemic utilizing the Hall County website—specifically ready.hallcounty.org.
- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, inmate work crews were utilized to make medical gowns for Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
- Treatment Services received numerous awards from the Council of Accountability Court Judges, including the Inaugural Data-Driven Award and accompanying grant.
- DUI Court and Help Court teams received the Model Court award.
- Court Information Systems moved thousands of hearings over to virtual platforms.
- The Family Law Information Center began providing virtual legal consultations so services could continue amid the pandemic.
- Pretrial Services took on hundreds of new cases and worked overtime to help keep the jail population down and reduce the risk of a health outbreak.
- Hall County Probate Court served a record number of citizens as they applied for a Georgia Weapons Carry License. Approximately 6,000 applications were processed in 2020, that’s up from just over 4,000 applications in 2019.
- Working together with Court Administration, Judges, and the Solicitor’s Office, the Clerk of Courts Office created a defendant check-in system in response to the pandemic. This new procedure has allowed the office to ensure the safety of Hall County citizens by controlling and minimizing the number of people attending their scheduled arraignments.
- Staff successfully conducted multiple elections, including various recounts, amid a global pandemic.
- New election equipment was implemented, and staff tutored the public and poll workers in its use.
- A record number of absentee by mail ballots were uploaded to the Secretary of State’s website as more voters selected to vote absentee than ever before.
- Staff worked tirelessly to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple major weather events and a cyberattack.
- Utilizing the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG), the Emergency Operations Center upgraded its video display technology. The upgrade consisted of the installation of a new large wall projection screen and three new high-resolution, in-ceiling projectors. This new system allows for seamless integration with the Emergency Management software and provides a much needed improvement in the visual needs for staff utilizing the Emergency Operations Center when it is activated for emergency use.
- The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awarded Hall County its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the FY 2020 Budget Guide.
- Staff worked with various departments to secure funding and supplies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The largest funding source was through the State of Georgia's Coronavirus Relief Fund in the amount of $7.4 million.
- Collections for the SPLOST VII program were completed, and the SPLOST VIII program was implemented.
- Hall County Government received a “clean/unmodified audit opinion” as a part of their Fiscal Year 2020 Audit and Annual Report conducted by Bates, Carter and Company.
- The Hall County Board of Commissioners rolled back the General Fund millage rate as a part of the fiscal year 2021 budget process.
- Hall County Financial Services received the GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the FY 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
- Moody’s upgraded Hall County Government’s credit rating to Aa1 from Aa2.
- The Hall County Neighborhood Stabilization Program completed three houses for moderate to low income families.
- The Grants Division assisted with securing over $240,000.00 in new grants.
- The bid selection and award was completed for fire stations 1 and 17.
- A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the new Hall County Fire Station 1 as construction at that site began.
- More than 400 COVID patients were transported with zero positive tests for HCFS staff.
- Hall County Fire Services celebrated the 50th anniversary since its inception.
- The department collected $96,000 for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation as a part of their annual ‘Give Burns the Boot’ campaign, raising the most money of any department in the state.
- Staff held COVID-19 town hall meetings to assist departments and individuals with understanding and navigating COVID-19 measures.
- With approval from the Hall County Board of Commissioners, hazard pay was implemented for frontline workers.
- Human Resources staff created and implemented a COVID-19 Best Practices Guide.
- As of mid-November, 750 code violations were investigated, and officers enforced strict security measures at the Hall County Government Center amid the pandemic.
- Services were restored and data recovered in an expedited manner following the cyberattack in October.
Parks & Leisure
- Parks and Leisure staff began implementing the action items of the Hall County Parks Master Plan, which was completed in September 2019.
- The Athletics Division was reorganized following record enrollment in youth sports.
- Detailed plans were developed and implemented successfully to safely allow the continuation of youth athletic programs, including baseball, soccer and basketball in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Renovations were made to the Activity Hall at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, as well as renovations to bathrooms, campsites, and office facilities at River Forks Park & Campground.
- Major renovations continued at Murrayville Park, with anticipation of reopening the park in 2021.
- Work continued on a Master Plan Study for the development of Healan's Mill Park & Historic Site.
- Parks & Leisure helped install a piece of public art commissioned by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Vision 2030 Public Art Committee. The piece of interactive art, known as Hammock Hollow, is on display at Laurel Park.
- Additional public art, titled “Bottle Trees,” was installed along the Highlands to Islands Trail Chicopee Section in another partnership with Vision 2030.
Planning & Development
- Hall County Business License issued approximately 4,000 new or renewed business licenses, 100 alcohol licenses and 15 alcohol event permits.
- Building Inspections continued services amid the pandemic, issuing more than 2,500 permits of various types.
- The Planning & Development Department has begun the multi-year process of updating its Development Services software, funded by SPLOST VIII, which will update and positively impact various divisions, including GIS, Business License, Building Inspections, Marshal’s Office, etc.
- The Long Range Planning Division developed and adapted to an online permitting system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure development would continue while staff was working remotely.
- The process of creating a Unified Development Code (UDC) for Hall County was initiated.
- Hall County’s sedimentation and erosion control ordinance was updated to allow more practicability and additional best management practices for large-scale developments.
- Construction Management finalized renovations at Murrayville Park and began work on the new Fire Station 1.
- Construction Management completed major renovations to the Downtown Library.
- Landfill crews rebuilt a berm in Cell 2 on an expedited timeline in order to keep essential services at the site running smoothly.
- The Hall County Sewer Master Plan and Rate Study was completed in February 2020. The main goal of the study was to determine a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the sewer system expansion between the years 2020 and 2040.
- Phase I of the Spout Springs Road Widening Project is currently under construction by GDOT. The anticipated completion date is December 2021.
- Right-of-way acquisition is underway on the Sardis Connector Project. It is expected to be complete in July 2022.
- The department was awarded first place in the annual Governor's Challenge, which is designed to highlight outstanding achievements in highway safety enforcement and education.
- Hall County’s Traffic and Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) Units were named Agency of the Year by MADD and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, along with the 2020 Agency DUI Hero Award with more than 650 DUI arrests recorded for the year.
Tax Assessors' Office
- Despite a 30-day delay due to the pandemic, the completion and submission of the Hall County Tax Digest remained on time, resulting in no delays for citizens.
- Appeal loss remained at a record low in 2020, ensuring an accurate and healthy tax digest for Hall County.
Tax Commissioner's Officer
- A second tag renewal kiosk at the Clearwater Crossing Kroger in South Hall was opened to the public, giving residents more locations for renewing their tag and cutting down on the number of people in the Hall County Government Center in an effort to abide by state and federal guidelines in regards to COVID-19 prevention.
- Staff navigated the pandemic by providing citizens with information about convenient online options, including the statewide DRIVES website.
Again, this list represents only a few of the County’s achievements in 2020. Hall County’s elected officials and staff look forward to continuing this legacy of success in 2021.