City pushes for court intervention in service delivery issue with county

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday evening the Bainbridge City Council approved a resolution authorizing special legal counsel to seek a mediator as the next step to obtain service delivery agreements with Decatur County.
“That’s all we have before us,” said Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds, “is to try to address a judge to seek a mediator to move forward, because we do feel like these issues are too important to our taxpayers and so that we can help represent taxpayers inside the city to correct this inequity.”
The resolution includes a list detailing the five written correspondences between the city and county governments — and each entity’s legal counsel — since August of this year, including a Sept. 30 letter from the county stating that it was forming a committee to address the issues the city presented. The two governments have yet to meet.
“Since the county has refused to participate in voluntary mediation … the city is left with no alternative but to seek mandatory mediation through the Superior Court of Decatur County …” according to the resolution.
The beginning of the meeting consisted of a town hall meeting to discuss the continuing disagreements between the city and county governments on service delivery to citizens.
Reynolds presented a list of nine topics the city would like to meet with the county to discuss, seven of which are services Bainbridge property owners are taxed for by the county but, according to the city, do not receive.
Those services are:
animal control
planning, zoning, inspections and code enforcement
county farm
fire services
police services
public utilities
road and bridge maintenance and construction
According to the city’s calculations, made with consultation from Buddy Welch of Smith, Welch, Webb & White, these undelivered services cost each Bainbridge property owner $233 a year.
“The [service delivery strategy] law says that either party, that’s us or them, can request a new service delivery strategy, and we’ve asked for that,” Reynolds said. “It’s also important to understand that we’re not asking for money directly to the city. We’re asking that we negotiate each of these points individually.”
The floor was opened for citizen input, and multiple residents addressed the mayor and council including Pete Stephens, incoming Decatur County commissioner, who said that the county has a committee meeting weekly to discuss the city’s claims.
“I would welcome the opportunity at a future date to negotiate,” Stephens said. “There’s two sides to every story. I see your figures, and I don’t agree with all of them. We can’t answer two years of questions in two months; it’s impossible. We would need time, and we are meeting weekly.”
Two other services that the city would like to discuss with the county are garbage and parks and recreation services.

Email newsletter signup