The Union Recorder

Local News

June 24, 2014

Development Authority staying with Chamber for now

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority was supposed to vacate the South Jefferson Street space currently shared with the Chamber of Commerce after an affirmative late May board vote to take over the second floor of the City of Milledgeville Economic Development Center in downtown's renovated Elks Lodge.

The board altered this course Monday based on a letter from the Baldwin County Commissioners stating they weren't aware the authority would relocate. The entity held another vote and decided to stay with the Chamber until all concerns were addressed.

Development Authority chairman Paul Dean explained that the board's belief that the county supported the move to the new city building wasn't correct.

Henry Pope motioned to delay the move to the Economic Development Center until the board receives all concerns in writing.

“We need to know what those issues are up front, not after the fact,” Ed Walker said.

It's an awkward position given the joint city and county funding, according to development authority board member Chat Daniel.

“We are dependent upon the county and the city,” Pope said.

Cheryl Crumbley said the board must remain independent.

“Any action taken by this body last month was based on potential need for the development authority,” she added.

Daniel hoped the authority wouldn't make any decisions based on a perceived threat from either local government body.

He said, like the city and county, the development authority exists to make decisions in the community's best interest.

“That's what we need to be doing, unlike some of our elected officials,” Daniel said.

After the not yet month old vote to move locations apparently blindsided Chamber President and CEO April Bragg and others, including the county commissioners, Commissioner Henry Craig asked at a June 3 county meeting that a letter be sent to the development authority.

Craig said the county never supported a move to the city-renovated building.

“We were not consulted on that issue, and I request that we ask them to revote knowing that,” Craig said.

Commissioner Sammy Hall said then the county heard rumors but wasn't “informed, asked or anything.”

Craig confirmed after Monday's meeting that a city representative still hasn't contacted the county concerning the matter.

The Development Authority and Chamber have a Memorandum of Understanding for shared services and split an employee, Director of Operations Hank Griffeth.

The board voted back in the fall of 2013 to stay with the Chamber and should they move that both would move as a unit.

The city left the authority funding level the same in the upcoming fiscal year budget.

The development authority's current $16,200 rent payment and a $4,560 telephone tab are split with Baldwin County.


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