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WOODBINE -- The start of the new year also marks a new beginning for local governments in Camden County.

Woodbine didn't have any turnover in elected officials in the November elections, but Kingsland has a new city council member, Daniel Minckler.

St. Marys has the biggest turnover, with three new council members, an incumbent council member and a new mayor taking their oaths of office at 5:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers at City Hall.

Merging public safety departments or hammering out agreements where they work more closely together is among the issues left over from 2013 that's following city and county governments into 2014.

But the No. 1 priority of city and county leaders over the next 12 months will be finding ways to improve economic development. That will begin with the search for a new Camden County Joint Development Authority director.

The development authority, which includes representatives from every municipality in the county, has decided to hire a professional recruiter to conduct a nationwide search for a new director to replace David Keating, who resigned last month.

St. Marys Mayor John Morrissey is among those who will take the oath of office when the council meets today. He said his top goal is to develop a stronger working relationship with Kingsland and Camden County.

A major concern is rising flood insurance rates, Morrissey said. He plans to ask one of the city council members to serve as the lead city official in flood insurance issues and legislation that could impact residents.

Kingsland Mayor Kenneth Smith said the search for a new city manager is among the immediate priorities facing his city. Gwen Mungin resigned in June from the city manager's position, and assistant City Manager Quentin McPhatter accepted another job out of state in December to be closer to his immediate family.

Human Resources Director Lee Spell will serve as acting city manager.

Smith said he wants to hire someone with the ability to help make proposed economic development projects a reality. Among those is a proposed $100 million resort and amusement park off Interstate 95 at Exit 3.

Smith said city officials will meet with the owners of the land some time in January to determine where the project stands.

"Hopefully, it will be good news," Smith said. "It's a slow process."

Another priority is to ensure an enhanced mutual aid agreement between the city and county fire departments is implemented properly, Smith said.

"We want to make sure it works," he said.

St. Marys Mayor Morrissey said city officials are still trying to determine whether to consolidate fire and police with the county.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 464-7655.



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