Macon-Bibb County agencies and boards overhaul a year away

mlee@macon.comMarch 1, 2013 

ATLANTA -- To prep for consolidation, Bibb County’s lawmakers will make a few legal changes this year to agencies that oversee economic development, tax assessments and more than 30 other functions.

Their legislation on any major overhauls, eliminations or combinations of boards or agencies won’t be filed until next year.

“To get through that it’s going to take more time than we have,” said state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, who is senior member of Bibb’s delegation in the state Legislature. “We’ve kind of decided as a delegation that that’s our summer project.”

This year, they are aiming for straightforward but critical changes, such as who names members of boards and authorities. Now, both the Macon mayor and Bibb County Commission chairman sit on some boards or make some appointments. But the consolidated Macon-Bibb County no longer will have those two offices. There will be a county mayor under consolidation.

Lawmakers have until the annual legislative session ends, probably in April, to amend references to offices that will no longer exist when the new government is seated next January.

The Macon-Bibb County Consolidation Transition Task Force has started making recommendations that are very detailed, such as clarifying the power of the Board of Assessors over the chief appraiser’s job.

Those are the kinds of questions Randall and her colleagues will have to weigh, then put into law. Some authorities may get smaller. Term lengths could change. They could make any adjustment the law allows.

It’s possible to merge or eliminate boards, but that’s something the delegation will consider in research and public consultation this summer, said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

There is “no intent to merge or eliminate” any boards or authorities now, Peake said.

Lawmakers also must consider the arcane set of laws that govern what legislators can do with boards and authorities.

For example, the count of people on some of the boards is frozen because they were created under an old legal vehicle called a local constitutional amendment, said state Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon.

Next year, boards and authorities may have to be formally dissolved and re-created if they need major overhauls.

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