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Brunswick to be lean, clean in 2013
Brunswick's top officials say they have a lot to be proud of in 2012, but they aren't slowing down.

Improvements to the city's storm drainage system and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by contracting out curb-side trash pick up are just some of the high points Brunswick residents saw this year, said City Manager Bill Weeks.

Waste Management took over trash collection at the beginning of December. Officials have estimated that the city could save $500,000 from the $1.25 million it was spending each year for sanitation pickup.

Residents could also see savings.

Over the next five years, customers of Waste Management in the city could see an 8 percent decrease in collection fees, bringing the monthly amount of $21.22 to $19.56 in 2018, officials have said.

"Once we were finally able to get the bids out and get some real numbers back on not only what we could save the taxpayers but also what additional services we could bring to the table ... I think that has been a strong step forward," said Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson, noting that the contract was difficult to make a reality for several years. "I look forward to enjoying those services for many years to come."

Brunswick officials also settled the distribution of a 1-percent Local Option Sales Tax between the city and county in mediation, avoiding court.

The city, which had received 35 percent of the tax, originally asked to have its share increased to 37 percent. The county, which had received 65 percent, asked for 81 percent.

Neither side was willing to compromise during the negotiation phase, and each party hired mediators from the University of Georgia to represent them.

The agreement gave the city 27 percent of the tax and the county 73 percent. The county also agreed to take over the city's traffic light maintenance, animal control and recreation programs.

After tabling the vote to hold a public comment period, the commission voted by a narrow margin of 3-1, with one abstention, to approve the agreement, avoiding what could have been a lengthy and expensive court case.

Thompson points to the city's efforts to strengthen economic development as another sign of success in 2012.

The city commission approved the formation of the Altamaha Community Transformation District Corridor and moved toward designating the city as an Opportunity Zone, a classification that would provide tax credits for business owners who create jobs - an incentive for new businesses.

Thompson said the city wants to continue its emphasis on becoming more attractive to new businesses.

This year a focus was placed on improving the aesthetics of the city.

"It's also about trying to bring the city up to a new level of standards," Weeks said.

A code enforcement and property maintenance coordinator joined city staff to tackle dilapidated buildings, and city leaders took part in launching the Gateway Project, an initiative to beautify Glynn County's entry ways.

Supporters of the project say cleaning up blight in the city, particularly along U.S. 17, will make the area more attractive to tourists and residents alike.

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