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Vidalia City Council Addresses Customer Service Concerns

At the Vidalia City Council session on October 10, Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet addressed concerns regarding customer service brought up by former City Manager Bill Torrance at the Council’s September meeting.

Last month, Torrance shared his frustration with the apparent lack of regard for customer service by the City administration. He cited three instances which had given him this perspective: his attempt at signing up to speak during public participation for the meeting, the use of automated answering services for the Vidalia Police Department (VPD), and an encounter at City Hall as evidence.

“It seems obvious to me that we have lost the sense of customer service and basic respect that should be a basic principle at City Hall. I know each one of you personally, and I believe in my heart that you respect the citizens of Vidalia; however, I also believe that respect is not shown by some of the appointed leadership in our City administration. It is the duty of each of you to set the standard and ensure the implementation and adherence of basic policies to make sure that citizens of Vidalia are treated as you would want your family to be treated,” he told Council members. Since the last meeting, the City of Vidalia has put several measures in place to ensure the concerns are minimized through training and changes in practice. Overstreet shared that eight city employees have registered for a customer service class through the Georgia Municipal Association. He also explained that callers now reach a live operator when they call the VPD, a change made possible through the collaboration of Chief James Jermon and department dispatchers.

“We have not turned a blind eye to this concern, and we are moving forward with ensuring that issues are dealt with,” Overstreet remarked. Plan First Community

Overstreet also announced the City had been awarded the title of being a “Plan First Community” for the third time consecutively, which highlights the ability of the City to make plans for the future and to act upon them efficiently. This will be the last time the City is able to receive the award, as it has now reached the limit of times the honor may be awarded.

Golf Authority

The Council officially created the Sweet Onion Golf Authority, and approved the appointment of several members to this new group. Those members and their terms are as follows: Andy Woodruff, 5 years; Chad Barker, 4 years; Lisa Chesser, 3 years; Monroe Goss, 2 years; Angela Lane, 2 years; Kareem Owens, 1 year; and Jacob Woodfin, 1 year. The new members will take the oath of office at a later date. During his report, Overstreet announced that 3 proposals have been submitted for the architectural job for the golf course construction.

Infrastructure Roundabout Application Council members approved the submission of an application for funding from the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program Capital Construction Grant (through the Department of Transportation) to create a roundabout at the intersection of Georgia Highways 130 (Loop Road) and 292. This project is estimated to cost $1,824,660; the local match could cost up to $400,000 total.

Water Metering

A contract for professional services for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure System was officially approved. The purchase and installation of the system was approved at last month’s regular meeting, LMIG

The final 2022 Local Maintenance and Improvement (LMIG) grant amendment was accepted by the Council, as all the work has now been completed for this project. The City received $188,159.51 in an LMIG grant that required a 10% match from the City. The City’s portion of the projected cost was $18,815.95, but the project, which repaved roads and improved railway crossings, exceeded projections by $3,948.82. The City’s final cost was $27,791.96, which was funded through Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Sewer Easement

A permanent sewer easement was accepted for three tracts of land near Ferncliff Drive. The City’s sewer system will now abandon this road, which belongs to Joseph Allen Tollefson, Kimra Michelle Tollefson, John Ladson, Caskel E. McConnell, Jr., and Renae W. McConnell, who have all been received utility easements.

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