Cities and Lowndes County settle service delivery dispute @ LCC 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-10: Not quite settled. Valdosta still has to agree to it.

These must be golden words indeed, to have been worth the hundreds of thousands of legal fees expended over them:

  1. In regards to water and sewer services:

    The Parties’ current water and sewer service areas are delineated on the service area maps attached to the DCA Forms for water and sewer services approved herewith.

    All existing intergovernmental agreements of the Parties regarding the provision of water and sewer services shall remain in effect.

    Any request for an extraterritorial extension shall be negotiated by the requesting Party and the affected Party. Approval of the affected Party shall not be unreasonably withheld.

The wording is “based on trust,” said Commissioner Clay Griner. “Where’s the document?” responded Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker? “It’s on your ipad,” clarified Chair Bill Slaughter.

As the County Clerk proceeded to hand out paper copies, Griner elaborated:

And it’s all based on trust. It’s us trusting, the County Commission trusting the City Council, whichever municipality it is, to do the right thing. The city council has to trust the County Commission to do the right thing. And the citizens to trust all of us to sit down and do the right thing.

After the county didn’t put anything for the citizens to see on the county website about this Wednesday morning meeting until less than 24 hours before the meeting.

After the Commissioners didn’t trust the Chair to negotiate for them when Clay Griner convened a meeting back in February when county Commissioners met with city council members of the cities but not their mayors.

That meeting resulted in an agreement on one item, I believe about this Service Delivery Strategy (SDS), which is to say distribution of taxes among Lowndes County and the five cities within it, Valdosta, Hahira, Remerton, Dasher, and Lake Park. I’m told by a Valdosta City Council member that the county repudiated that February agreement in writing a few days later.

Last night the new Mayor of Valdosta, Scott James, said he had convened or participated in I think he said six or nine meetings on this subject before he was even the mayor.

Pictured on the left is Walter G. Elliott, the alleged County Attorney, whose firm was paid for that litigation.

[Lowndes County Water / Sewer System]
Lowndes County Water / Sewer System

The maps were not attached to the agenda along with this one agenda item, but the map above is from the Community Assessment, Greater Lowndes 2030 Comprehensive Plan, so it gives some idea of the subject water and sewer areas. The current county water and sewer lines are supposedly in the VALOR Live Map.

Here are images of the one agenda item that was attached to the agenda.

Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, [HISTORY, FACTS, ISSUES]

Please follow the link for the PDF. Usually I transliterate these things into plain text in a blog post, but I’ve got better things to do today.

[2. In regards to water and sewer services]
2. In regards to water and sewer services

I will transcribe this paragraph:

On December 31, 2019, Commissioners Evans, Griner, and Orenstein met with Valdosta Council Members Sonny Vickers and Andy Gibbs. During that meeting, they agreed on the following alternative Special Provision for water and sewer services:

Apparently those are the people we have to thank for finally resolving this very expensive and long-running contention. Commissioner Scottie Orenstein specifically credited Council Andy Gibbs for the simplicity of this new language. So, thank you Joyce Evans, Clay Griner, Scottie Orenstein, Sonny Vickers, and especially Andy Gibbs.

Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know if the new wording handled the previous points raised by Commissioners and county citizens. The alleged County Attorney answered, “Yes.” So apparently the key to trust is one word from the one person who profited the most from the protracted litigation.

Commissioner Marshal moved to approve the document. Commissioner Joyce Evans seconded. All voted aye.

Here’s a LAKE video playlist:

Cities and Lowndes County settle service delivery dispute @ LCC 2020-01-08
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 AM, Wednesday, January 8, 2019, at the County Palace.


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