The time for negotiation has already passed

Published 6:46 pm Friday, April 17, 2015

I’m confused with Decatur County’s recent formation of a “negotiation committee.”
Decatur County Commission Chairman Dennis Brinson, along with commissioners Pete Stephens and Rusty Davis, will represent Decatur County in an attempt to renegotiate some of the points in the month-old service delivery strategy resolution.
Both the city and the county had approximately four months to prepare for mediation, where a final resolution was drafted after a two-day process to set the record straight on which entity is responsible for what services.
Now, 33 days later, the county is unsure if what they voted on 5-1 (Commissioner George Anderson voted no) was the right thing to do.
A couple things need to be made clear. First, this resolution is now an official court document, approved by a judge after mediator William Sanders worked hard with both Decatur County and Bainbridge to decide what it will entail. I imagine Sanders would be disappointed to hear things weren’t settled during mediation and are now being brought up a month later.
Second, both the city and county had more than enough time to work with their attorneys, collect information and crunch numbers to know exactly what they could and could not agree to.
Despite disagreements on who originally provided the idea, putting the Decatur County Prison in an enterprise fund was the wrong direction to go. As prison warden Elijah McCoy pointed out at a special called meeting Monday, prisons are not designed to make money; in fact, the Decatur County Prison is losing money, and has been since the 1950s, he said.
The Board of Commissioners fully realizes this, but they are too late. Why wasn’t this information considered during mediation? Why weren’t Decatur County’s lawyers more cautious in allowing the prison to be part of an enterprise fund in the first place? All of this should have been worked out during mediation.
There is nothing left to negotiate. The resolution has been voted on and approved. Brinson signed the document himself. What is that signature worth if he and the rest of the commissioners are calling for renegotiation?
I’m delighted to here that the city and county will work together to implement the new resolution to provide all residents in Decatur County the best possible services, but there should be no changes to the resolution.

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