MILLEDGEVILLE — An April joint meeting of city and county government officials is in the early proposal stages, city Manager Barry Jarrett said Tuesday.
Jarrett responded to Baldwin County Commissioner Henry Craig's open request for a joint council and commissioner meeting.
“I'd strongly suggest to this council that you entertain having such a meeting,” Jarrett said. “I think it would be beneficial to both groups and the community. I'd like for the city to step out first and make this offer.”
Jeanette Walden, District 2, supported the idea.
“We need to meet and see what direction they are going in,” she said.
Steve Chambers, District 6, also said the city and county should share minutes. Mayor Richard Bentley mentioned a public meeting goes a long way to sway public sentiment the two sides don't get along.
“That will serve the public better than anything we can do separately,” Bentley said. “It's a very good way to start.”
Chambers said the two sides shouldn't see each other as competitors.
“At some point we need to channel the competitiveness together,” the councilman said.
Jarrett said he would contact county staff to setup an April meeting.
• First vote in favor of new district map
Council passed first adoption concerning the reapportioned election districts. New census numbers legally require the City of Milledgeville to alter its six voting districts based on new population shifts.
City council began the process in January.
The current version has the six districts falling at an optimal 8.81 percent deviation range from the target population of 2,748 per district. Districts 1, 3 and 5 are primarily minority under the current setup.
A second vote at the next council meeting sends the redistricting blueprint to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval.
The DOJ must approve any redistricted map proposal using the one person, one vote rule and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a rubric.
Once submitted, the Justice Department has 60 days to comment and review the districts.
• Central State Redevelopment Update
Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) executive director Mike Couch updated council on current projects.
“Nothing has changed. We still have 1,900 acres, and we think we understand it better than we ever have before,” Couch said.
Job creation is central to current master plan goals, as stimulating private sector interest in Central State remains vital. House Bill 495, which didn't survive the legislature's Crossover Day, would have allowed conveyance of surplus state property worth $500,000 or less without a General Assembly vote.
Couch said the campus has over 200 buildings and the authority needs a mechanism to get beyond the leasing business.
Green economics surrounding a proposed 125-acre community solar panel farm, a DEA analytical training laboratory, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder clinic and use for the Bobby Parham Kitchen made the CSHLRA big board.
The CSHLRA selected a firm that will complete a campus master plan as well. Couch said the board is working federal grant angles for additional funding
• Fall Line moving forward
On behalf of the Georgia Department of Transportation, Edwin Thompson informed the city of Fall Line Freeway project statuses.
Two Washington County projects totaling 16 miles are half way complete with scheduled end dates in 2014. The Baldwin County nine-mile stretch project received notice to proceed Feb. 25 and completion is estimated by Nov. 30, 2015.
Thompson said work would commence in 30 days. The Baldwin tract begins at US 441 and extends to SR 24 and includes construction of eight bridges.
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