Decatur County officials disagree with allegations in Bainbridge’s lawsuit

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Decatur County was delivered a lawsuit from the City of Bainbridge last Friday alleging the county of inequities with their portion of the Service Delivery Strategy between the two entities, pursuant to the Service Delivery Strategy Act.

The lawsuit has left county officials scratching their heads and stating parts of the Georgia Code cited in the claim aren’t applicable to the situation between the county and the city.

“I think they’re wasting everybody’s time and money,” Decatur County Chairman Frank Loeffler said.

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O.C.G.A. § 36-70-28 is the main concern of Decatur County attorney Brown Moseley, which states, “In the event that a county or an affected municipality located within the county refuses to review and revise, if necessary a strategy in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (b) of this Code section, then any of the parties may use the alternative dispute resolution and appeal procedures set forth in subsection (d) of Code section § 36-70-25.1,” as cited in the lawsuit.
Code section § 26-70-25.1 states when a county and municipality fail to reach an agreement on Service Delivery Strategy, either one may file a petition through Superior Court for mandatory mediation.

“The county has not refused to discuss with or meet with the city on any of those matters,” Moseley said in reference to the allegations that appear in the city’s lawsuit. “There are several places where they have alleged, and that’s simply not the case.”

According to the code, a judge outside the county’s circuit, in this case the Southwest Georgia Judicial Circuit, is to pick a mediator for the mandatory mediation.If the mediation fails, Bainbridge will petition the Superior Court to resolve all remaining items in dispute.

The visiting or senior judge will conduct a hearing to render a decision, according to O.C.G.A § 36-70-25.1 (d)(2).

Decatur County has 30 days to answer the lawsuit.

“I think the lawsuit is certainly premature,” Moseley said. “I think it absolutely is the wrong thing to do.”

Decatur County has scheduled a Special Called Meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss litigation in executive session.

The meeting will be held at the County Commission Building.

Read the full lawsuit here.