SUGAR HILL -- Gwinnett's fourth-largest city is continuing it commitment to do more with less.
At its monthly work session Monday night, Sugar Hill's city council held its second of three public hearings on a millage rate it plans not to change for an 11th year, despite a shrinking tax digest and troubled economy. And after its final hearing at next Monday night's monthly meeting, it anticipates voting to leave its tax rate at 3.8 mills.
"I can move different departments around to help one another," City Manager Bob Hail said of maintaining city services despite about $200,000 less in taxes last year and $150,000 this year. "I think we can maintain our same service levels."
Determined to fund improvements from savings instead of borrowing, Sugar Hill continues heightening its profile, including developing its parks and building a $14 million City Hall complex and streetscape downtown.
Yet Hail hinted it's becoming increasingly challenging to do so with the economy barely showing signs of rebounding.
"Next year may be a different story," he warned. "But if we do get some (economic) recovery and get our digest going a different direction, we can do more than just maintain."
In other work session developments:
-- Architectural firm Pieper O'Brien Herr, which bid to design City Hall, asked the council to consider building initial shell retail space in any of several areas near City Hall at West Broad Street and Temple Drive. Pieper representative Richard Kramer presented the council preliminary renderings of a retail building about 25 feet deep by 90 feet long, of elevation similar to city hall. Kramer suggested such space for potentially three small shops, at a ball park cost of $60,000, might entice retail investment, a chief reason for developing downtown.
The council discussed approving a few basic designs for retail shops and including them when marketing downtown to potential retailers.
-- The council discussed how it approves commercial and residential plats, specifically what responsibility it should take for maintenance of roads in stalled residential communities.