Due to their inability to reach an agreement on the amount each entity should receive, Dooly County Commissioners and city officials soon will be heading into mediation regarding the distribution of local option sales tax money
Commissioners have held several meetings with city mayors since negotiations began in June. If an agreement cannot be reached by August 20, the parties will be required to submit the dispute to mediation.
Officials met once again Thursday during the county commission’s regular meeting in what proved to be another unsuccessful effort to reach accord.
In the past, the county has received 55% of the funds and the remaining 45% has been distributed among the municipalities. Due to the numbers taken in the most recent census, officials from both Vienna and Unadilla have asked the county for an extra 1% each which would still leave the county with the biggest piece of the pie — 53%. The county, however, does not want to relinquish that 2%.
“The county’s position has not changed,” said commission chairman Terrell Hudson.
Mayor Dr. Bobby West of the City of Unadilla said his city really needs the extra 1% and is prepared to go into arbitration. Mayor Eddie Daniels of Vienna said his city had rather not enter into arbitration.
However, Daniels said he had gone to business owners and citizens to get their opinion. He then shared one citizen’s perspective on the matter at hand, referring to the Biblical story of the boy with two small fish and five loaves of bread used to feed a huge crowd.
“He only had a little,” said Daniels. “He had to share or a multitude would have perished.” Daniels then reminded commissioners they “would still be receiving a majority of the money.”
Hudson, who said he had not foreseen this scenario, asked the consensus of the board and learned his fellow members were prepared to enter into arbitration.
No other mayors made any comments since in previous discussions they had expressed interest in maintaining the current amounts they receive. While they did not request an increase neither did they want to receive less than before.
At the close of the meeting with city officials, commissioners entered into executive session with the county attorney in order to discuss the matter. After entering back into regular session they voted to hire Eaves Consulting Group to assist with the LOST distribution matter.
If an agreement cannot be reached in mediation, the matter will enter into non-binding arbitration. After that time if they still cannot come to an agreement it will be put into binding arbitration and a decision will be rendered by a judge.
Both city and county officials will have the opportunity to present their reasoning for the request of funding. Each entity holds a chance of receiving more or less than their current receipts.
Commissioners also approved a motion to enter into a contract with Advanced Disposal regarding the collection of commercial garbage in the county, a position that was being handled by a county employee.
County administrator Steve Sanders presented commissioners with a copy of the contract drafted by county attorney Bill NeSmith who made a few changes agreed upon by Advanced Disposals.
Commissioner David Barron continued to express concern over the future of the county worker who had handled the garbage collection.
“I still need more information before I can agree to anything,” he said.
Hudson advised Barron the employee would still work for the county, getting 40 hours a week but just in a different truck.
“I am thinking about the people in the county,” said commissioner Eugene Cason who voted in favor of the contract. “We cannot get hung up on one position when there is a place for that person in another position.”
Along with Barron, commissioner Charles Anderson disagreed with the contract saying he did not believe the county should be putting all their eggs in one basket.
“If it does not work out we will have to stop and then we will have sold all our equipment,” he said. “We would have to start completely over.”
Commissioners approved the contract by a 3-2 vote with Cason and Harry Ward joining Hudson in favor and Barron and Anderson opposing. Sanders advised he would be getting in touch with Advanced Disposal to set up a starting date for service.
Also on the agenda, commissioners:
• Listened to a complaint from citizen Sylvester Granville regarding salaries of several county employees.
• Discussed the restructuring of the Flint Humane Society.
• Agreed to begin meeting with department heads regarding the upcoming budget with the initial session to be held this coming Thursday.