City wants information, digs deeper into city-county service agreement

Published 8:45 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

The City of Bainbridge sent a 16-page open records request to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
The request asked for all documents between Jan. 1, 2010, to present day pertaining to operating budgets for administration services in Decatur County, documents showing the administrative costs associated with each department, authority and agency within Decatur County, documents that show the source of revenue used by Decatur County, among many others.
Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove called the open records request “intrusive.”
“It’s getting into the closets, the men’s rooms and the lady’s rooms,” Breedlove said.
Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby said the open records request was an attempt to see if Decatur County was fulfilling their end of the Service Delivery Agreement. By law, the county and its municipalities must deliver on their service agreement duties, including paying for recreation, sewage and others.
Hobby said the people who receive the services should be the ones who pay for it. He said he wasn’t certain if Decatur County was doing their part and paying for their portion of the agreement.
“Anecdotally, I think that (they aren’t paying),” Hobby said. “But that’s what we’re trying to get data for, to find out.”
The City of Bainbridge hired an attorney from Smith Welch in Atlanta to draft the request. The request cost the city more than $1,000, according to Hobby. The City of Bainbridge used the same attorney during LOST negotiations to try and prove why they needed a greater portion of tax revenue.
“We don’t intend to have a permanent relationship with this firm,” Hobby said. “We do intend to continue to use them until LOST is resolved.”
Decatur County Attorney Brown Moseley said that the city council is only two blocks away and shouldn’t have to go through a lawyer in Atlanta to ask about county government.
“It is expensive, in my opinion,” Moseley said about producing the requested documents for the City of Bainbridge. “This is not in the spirit that elected officials should be communicating. We’re talking about hundred of invoices from who knows where. This is just so unnecessary.”
By law, the recipient of an open records request must respond to the sender within three business days. Decatur County commissioners are concerned with the amount of time it will take to find the number of documents the City of Bainbridge is requesting. Decatur County is expected to cover all expenses that producing the requested documents will cost.
“(This) is wanting your historical background and your all of your activities,” Breedlove said. “This is a diversion from our daily workload. We have a lot of things to do in the way of county business, and this is a diversion from that at a time where we don’t have the administrative staff to devote to this.”
Hobby emphasized that he didn’t believe the open records request was about LOST, but about the service delivery agreement specifically.
“There’s no hidden meaning to this,” Hobby said. “We’re trying to determine how the services are delivered between the county and the city.”
Click here to view the City of Bainbridge’s open records request to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners in its entirety.

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