When it was first discovered that members of Milledgeville City Council and the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners were at an impasse in trying to reach a new Service Delivery Strategy agreement, the next step involved mediation.
Before such a legal measure was taken, a mediator was appointed to help local officials reach an agreement.
The mediator was Theodore P. Meeker III, an attorney with Sumner, Meeker Attorneys At law, whose office is located in Newnan.
Mediation sessions, as they were referred to, were held three different times.
The first one took place Oct. 17, 2018, while the second one took place Nov. 20, 2018, and the third on Dec. 19, 2018.
“I served as mediator over three sessions of the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners and the mayor and alder members of the city of Milledgeville,” Meeker said in a report that he sent to D. James “Jimmy” Jordan, city attorney, and Andrew J. “Andy” Welch III, the attorney representing the county, on June 20.
During each of the mediation sessions, quorums from both governing bodies attended, Meeker said.
At the first mediation session, city and county officials discussed four topics:
- Water service
- Library services
- Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) distribution and financial responsibilities for the Industrial Development Mega site
- Funding equities/inequities for the such services as: fire, solid waste, planning and zoning, buildings, GIS and mapping, administrative expenses, Regional Planning Commission, storm water and soil erosion
“With respect to the provision of water service, I was informed of Baldwin County’s position that the existing Intergovernmental Agreement between Baldwin County and Milledgeville had expired and that there were certain service areas in the unincorporated portion of Baldwin County for which the county wanted to provide water service moving forward,” Meeker said in his report. “Milledgeville disputed this contention. I did not review the Intergovernmental Agreement, so no opinion was offered by me with respect to the agreement or the current status of the agreement.”
During the second mediation session, officials from each of the local government bodies met and discussed the following services:
- Water service and service areas
- Library services
- Animal control
- The creation of special service districts by the county for the following services: Building inspections/licenses, code enforcement, engineering, fire, GIS and mapping, solid waste collection, planning and zoning, recycling facilities, Regional Planning Commission, storm water and soil erosion
- Payments made to county’s enterprise fund for water service from the county’s general fund.
- SPLOST distribution and financial responsibilities for Industrial Development Mega site.
- EDA grant receipt, funding and project
- Use of county parking deck in downtown area
- Fire service area
- Industrial Development Authority funding and appointment of officers
- Central State facility control, operations, services
During the third and final mediation session, local government officials discussed the following topics:
- SPLOST distribution and financial responsibilities for the Industrial Development Mega site.
- Water service and service areas.
- Water and sewer rate differentials charged by the city for customers located inside and outside the unincorporated area.
Meeker mentioned in his report that government officials also exchanged documents with each other concerning a number of other topics. They included:
- Animal control.
- Baldwin County Regional Airport
- Allied Arts
- Buildings and properties
- Building inspections
- Business licenses
- County Extension Service
- Code enforcement
- Baldwin County Coroner’s Office
- Baldwin County E-911
- Court services
- Baldwin County Elections
- Economic Development (discussed potential division of duties among other authorites).
- Emergency Medical Services
- Fire protection
- Georgia Forestry Commission
- General government services and administrative services
- Little Fishing Creek Golf Course
- Jail services
- Indigent defense
- Law enforcement
- Maintenance Shop
- Mosquito control
- Planning and Zoning
- Public health
- Public transportation
- Recreation and parks
- Regional planning
- Roads and bridges
- Sewerage collections
- Senior Citizens Center
- Solid waste collections
- Sewerage treatment
- Solid waste disposal
- Street lighting
- Stormwater management
- Street cleaning
- Tax collection
- Water distribution
- Tax Assessor
- Traffic control
- Water treatment