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May 3, 2014

Now two groups analyzing unification charter

MILLEDGEVILLE — When the 2014 state legislative introduction clock expired on the existing unification charter in February, Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley said a soon-to-be-formed committee would continue charter dialogue and revisions.

This group met for the first time Tuesday.

The mayor and county commission chairman Sammy Hall appointed committee consists of city and county managers and attorneys, City Council members Denese Shinholster and Steve Chambers, commissioners Johnny Westmoreland and Tommy French, Unified Government Chart Writing committee members Dr. Stan Aldridge and Nancy Hartley with spokesperson, the Rev. David Luke and two citizen appointees, Lt. Col. Edward Shelor, a Georgia Military College faculty member with a political science and government administration background, and local business owner Raymond Grimes.

Chambers will chair this group charged with examining the cost of total government consolidation and functional consolidation, which means combining service agencies such as fire departments.

“I feel like all of the information we end up bringing together, whether the consolidation movement is voted in or not, will still be usable whether it’s one government or two,” Chambers said.

Shinholster said this panel will review the positive and negative aspects of government consolidation along with the cost or any cost savings associated over time. This group will “make charter changes, if necessary.”

This elected official based group starts the process with the latest charter form.

The foundation charter for a unified Milledgeville-Baldwin County government was completed by the charter writing committee and released May 1, 2013. The writing committee’s work toward letting citizens vote on government consolidation began two years ago. The charter has been through six edits since last May.

Chambers said questions about the tax and voting district lines under a unified setup will be answered by the end of the process.

Local elected officials are “charged with helping to decide the direction this community would move forward in,” according to Councilman Chambers.

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