District One meets to discuss multiple proposal topics for 2018

SAVANNAH, Ga., (WSAV) — Dozens of people living in Savannah’s District One, expressed their concerns about multiple proposals on the table for 2018.

The fire fee, reduction of marijuana fines, and the police de-merger were the hot topics at a Savannah district one town hall meeting Monday night.

People are still upset about the timing of the fire fee.

Meeting moderator Alderman Van Johnson says it’s a different state of mind for those who live on two opposite sides of the city.

According to Johnson, “we have to keep in mind those that are not able to sit at the same table we sit, those who don’t have a decent place to live. Those who don’t have food to eat or those who are wondering where their next meal is coming from. Or for those on those cold nights that need heat and don’t have it.”

He adds, “So I think that we need to keep that front and center that we are a city of people.”

Others are concerned about the separation of police departments in Savannah and Chatham County –and how it could potentially affect response times — as well as patrolling; more specifically in the Savannah Highlands area.

Alderman Johnson says, “Their concerns are different. Their concerns about proliferation, the enormous traffic that comes through here and really that fact that we need to have some relief.

He adds there are more needs for the people in the Highland area, “We need to have on site police, fire and ems services. For this extremely fast growing population that’s out here in the highlands. I think that’s their major concern.”

Johnson is also proposing more lax-punishment for marijuana charges. Under the bill, the penalty for a first offense would be a $150 fine and no jail time.The second offense would be a $300 fine and no jail time. A third offense could lead to time behind bars. Johnson also wants 20-percent of those fines to go to a rehab facility for both marijuana and substance abuse. Monday night, many questioned can marijuana be legalized? But Johnson says that is out of his jurisdiction.

Johnson says, “It’s an issue for us about criminal justice but also social justice. So hopefully the council will listen and hopefully we can be the third city in the state to do this.”

The first reading on the marijuana proposal will be on December 21 along with a vote on the fire fee.

Other town hall meetings are as follows:

District 1, December 14 at 6:30 p.m., Savannah Civic Center, 3rd Floor Ballroom

District 3, December 13 at 6:00 p.m., Johnson High School

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