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Council hires help in federal matters

The Bainbridge City Council has hired a consultant group from Washington, D.C., toward the goal of garnering federal government money to help realize Bainbridge’s waterfront master plan.

At their Tuesday meeting, council members voted 5-1 to enter into an initial six-month contract with the Ferguson Group at a cost of $6,000 per month, or $36,000 total. Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer voted against the contract.

Although the consultants’ work would not necessarily be limited to finding money for waterfront plans, city officials are looking to change their strategy after three years of applying for federal money toward that purpose and not getting anything, City Manager Chris Hobby said.

City of Bainbridge officials recently applied for a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to help pay for a planned trail that would connect the city’s two riverside parks, Cheney Griffin Park and the Earle May Boat Basin.

Councilwoman Palmer said she was not opposed to the concept of getting help in hunting down federal money for local projects. She said she was in favor of waiting to see if further economic recovery happens before spending the money on consultants’ work.

Leslie Mozingo, a Ferguson Group partner, spoke with the council remotely via Skype videoconferencing. Mozingo acknowledged that the process of applying for and receiving federal money takes at least a year and often multiple years go by before clients see a return on their investment.

However, Hobby and Mayor Edward Reynolds said their research of the Ferguson Group’s past work, including a successful partnership with Albany, Ga., made them believe the consultants would help city officials to do more in Washington than they could on their own.

“We would help you more effectively deliver the message about what you need [from Congressional representatives,” Mozingo said. “We would work with you to map out a strategy beforehand so you walk in [their office] with a specific task for them to work on.”