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Savannah city manager talks budget highlights, initiatives for 2022 with business leaders

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:10 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Manager Jay Melder met Wednesday morning with Savannah Downtown Business Association members, walking them through the City’s top priorities for the new year.

One of the first topics the City Manager touched on was crime, and budget investments aimed at curbing violence in Savannah.

Melder spoke about the newly created and city funded Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, explaining what the program’s director will be focusing on.

“The person that will and the work engaged is really about being there and engaging with folks who are most at-risk of using a gun, and those most at-risk of being a victim of gun violence.”

Melder pointed out Savannah had three more homicides in 2021 than the previous year, but also that the police department has an 88-percent clearance rate on homicide cases, 28-percent higher than the national average.

Another topic touched on was one impacting Broughton Street businesses in particular, and that’s the ongoing streetscape improvement project.

“Broughton and Bull will be closed, I think in a matter of weeks to get festival square started and done, which will just be an amazing streetscape.”

Melder told the room the plan is to have the streetscape work all the way to Drayton Street finished by May.

Another Savannah budget priority some in the room were more curious about was the city’s involvement with the creation of affordable housing, which is an issue that directly affects the downtown workforce.

“I think you’re going to see, on the more subsidy end, some ground breakings here pretty soon on the west side, hopefully to extend opportunities for deeply affordable housing, and kind of a cross section of our homelessness work as well.”

Melder followed up by saying money set aside in the affordable housing fund will allow the City to work with developers to help make affordable housing part of the framework for private development projects.

The City Manager Jay Melder also told business leaders when the ribbon cutting will take place for the new Enmarket Arena. “We’ll be inviting you to a community ribbon cutting and concert on Saturday, February 5th. So please mark that on your calendars,” Melder said.

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