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Gainesville City Council begins hearing 2016 budget requests
Elachee Nature Science Center, Keep Hall Beautiful request more
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Economic Development Council

FY 2015 request: $136,500

FY 2014 request: $136,500

What’s new: Expanding small-business development, creating new jobs and marketing local business and industrial parks.

Gainesville/Hall ‘96

FY 2015 request: $150,000

FY 2014 request: $150,000

What’s new: Renovations at facilities, expanding handicap access and hosting more events, including weddings.

Elachee Nature Science Center

FY 2015 request: $10,000

FY 2014 request: $5,000-$6,000

What’s new: Ongoing conservation projects and a new capital campaign to raise money for renovations to the main lobby and exhibits.

Keep Hall Beautiful

FY 2015 request: $20,000

FY 2014 request: $15,000

What’s new: Expanding anti-litter campaign and community service program, as well as generating larger Web presence and social media interest.

There are two major complicating factors as local governments prepare to dive into budget talks this year: Will voters approve a 1 percent sales tax to fund roads, building renovations and other infrastructure upgrades and how will a proposed $1 billion state transportation bill affect city and county revenues?

While only time can work those things out, Gainesville officials are getting an early start on budget presentations and discussions for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

During a work session Thursday morning, City Council heard funding requests from local nonprofits and outside agencies.

Economic Development Council

The Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council is once again asking for $136,500 from the city to support its ongoing programs to facilitate local job creation and private investment.

The council will request the same amount from Hall County, and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Hallmark Initiative will also contribute an equal total.

Additionally, the council seeks $20,000 from Flowery Branch and $15,000 from Oakwood.

Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the chamber of commerce, said the council will continue to focus on expanding small businesses, bringing new industries to Hall County and marketing local business parks.

Evans said the council has 68 active project inquiries, and helps orchestrate visits and tours for prospective businesses looking to move into Hall County.

Evans said he hopes to generate at least $150,000 in private investment and 500 new jobs in the 2016 fiscal year.

Gainesville/Hall ‘96

The nonprofit Gainesville-Hall ’96 has brought the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue back from the dead.

After languishing for years, used sparingly by local paddling clubs, the venue has undergone major renovations in the last year, and more are scheduled for 2015.

With Manager Morgan House now at the helm, the venue has been able to bring national and international events to Gainesville.

The economic impact has been substantial, generating millions of dollars in local spending.

Future renovations include updating the service building and constructing lookout towers.

House said more than $600,000 is needed for planned renovations.

House said the venue is broadening its appeal and now marketing as a wedding destination. The venue can be rented for other events and gatherings, as well, and will begin hosting music concerts later this year.

Councilman Sam Couvillon said he is “very impressed” with the overhaul.

Elachee Nature Science Center

The Elachee Nature Science Center, in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, is a leading educational and volunteer institute in the local community.

“We’re very fortunate to have it,” said Mayor Danny Dunagan.

Center officials said they are expanding educational programs and events every year, and continue to build a strong financial base for new initiatives.

Ongoing conservation projects include trail maintenance and water quality monitoring.

The nature center will also host the 2015 National Association of Nature Center Administrators conference in August.

Keep Hall Beautiful

Keep Hall Beautiful, an environmental nonprofit that organizes local recycling and cleanup campaigns, is asking for an additional $5,000 from Gainesville in the 2016 fiscal year to support part-time staff and help expand programs.

The nonprofit coordinated an environmental summit at Brenau University last year to educate students and local residents about recycling.

KHB officials said they hoped to grow their recycling programs in the coming year, as well as their volunteer base.

“You’re doing great work in the community,” Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said.

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