Macon Committee Questions Consolidation Costs | News
Some members of Macon city council say they shouldn't have to foot the bill for the consolidation transition.
According to the charter, the city and county must split the cost, which right now comes in around $250,000 each. That money is for a handful of consultants hired by the transition task force.
A council committee did not pass a resolution to pay their share by a 2-2 vote Monday night. They would have needed a 3-2 vote to pass it, but committee member Henry Ficklin was not at the meeting.
A few members say they're against taking money out of the city's general funds to pay for services council did not approve.
Council member Elaine Lucas says, "I think there ought to be another source for funding this consolidation money, because what is happening is we have just written a blank check to the transition committee, because it's like they're sending directives to us and they're making all the plans and then giving us the bill."
Other council members asked the city attorney to determine their legal obligation to pay, since the transition team, not the city, hired the consultants.
State Senator Cecil Staton told 13WMAZ, "Whether or not they are legally bound to pay for it, they are almost morally bound to pay since they are part of it."
He says the committee's decision was "petty and political, and not indicative of what we need if we're going to pull this community together."
State Representative Allen Peake, who wrote the consolidation charter, says the transition team is working to raise outside funds to cut down costs, but he says the charter states the two local governments must pay for the services.
"This is part of being part of the team, of moving this thing forward, of making sure we have a consolidated government that is set up in the best, most efficient manner that can be done," says Peake. "We need consultants. We need experts in that area to help us be able to address the specific and technical challenges that we have ahead of us. So, again, I'm just flabbergasted quite frankly."
If the city decides to take the money from unallocated reserves, there will be more than $160,000 left in that fund.
In another committee meeting Monday night, council members discussed adding two more polling places and an additional Saturday for early voting.
Lucas says she wrote the resolution because she thinks the long lines deterred some voters in the past election. Her legislation calls on the Bibb County commission to consider funding the additional options.
The transfer of Terminal Station to the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority also popped up on the committee agenda. It passed the public properties committee in Novermber, but failed by a 7-7 vote during the last full council meeting. This time, it failed to make it out of the ordinances and resolutions committee by an even 4-4 vote.