1. MACON-BIBB COUNTY CONSOLIDATION GETS GREEN LIGHT: Macon and Bibb County voters approved an idea that had been discussed on and off for at least a century: combining the city and county governments.
The proposal came up at least 20 times in the past 100 years, and voters had rejected it a number of times. But renewed efforts intensified in the past two years and on July 31, a majority of local voters -- 57 percent -- endorsed House Bill 1171, which would consolidate Bibb County, Macon and Payne City.
Elections for a countywide mayor and nine commission districts will be held in November 2013. Its possible that some of the new districts could see two-, three- or four-way races among incumbents. There are no incumbents in two of the districts.
House Bill 1171 mandates a 20-percent cut in the combined governments budget within five years, leaving many wondering how that will be accomplished. One possibility is staff or service cuts. The bill says the intent is for current government employees to keep their jobs, but it doesnt make a promise. The sheriff would be the top law enforcement official, and six votes on the commission would be needed to pass a budget.
A 15-member transition task force is working on combining laws, departments, facilities and many other issues, aided by hired consultants. The new government is scheduled to begin operating in January 2014. -- JIM GAINES
ABOVE: The Rev. Frank Ray and Mayor Robert Reichert, right, enjoy early returns on the Macon-Bibb County consolidation referendum at a party on Poplar Street on July 31. BEAU CABELL — firstname.lastname@example.org Buy Photo