The Bibb County Commission agreed Tuesday to authorize the local Board of Elections to begin preparing for a nonpartisan election July 16.
While Commissioners Lonzy Edwards and Bert Bivins emphasized during earlier committee discussion that they dont support nonpartisan local elections, the commissioners vote Tuesday was necessary to begin the process as mandated by Senate Bill 25.
County Attorney Virgil Adams said the resolution doesnt endorse partisan or nonpartisan elections, but instead establishes the time line to allow the qualifying process to run from April 22-26.
The U.S. Department of Justice is in a 60-day period to approve the Senate bill that state legislators passed last month. Adams said he expects to hear from the department by mid-April, before qualifying.
The Justice Department can uphold or overturn nonpartisan elections, or ask for an extension on making a decision, Adams said.
In other committee business Tuesday, commissioners:
Agreed to spend $648,210 to modernize courthouse elevators. They also approved $10,180 to cover the costs of mounting computers in sheriffs vehicles and awarded a $278,000 contract to Aquatic Management Inc. to resurface three of the countys pools.
Declined to approve a supplemental appropriation of $12,500 to pay for a consolidation report prepared by the Middle Georgia Regional Commission. Edwards and other commissioners said during the meeting that the report, sent to them before last summers consolidation vote, didnt answer specific questions they had leading up to that referendum. Commissioners authorized Chairman Sam Hart to renegotiate with the regional commission.
Received an update on various projects paid for with the special purpose local option sales tax. Len Hindsman, who oversees the SPLOST, told commissioners that work is expected to begin at the end of March or the beginning of April in clearing space for the juvenile justice center. He also told commissioners that an advisory group dealing with the new animal shelter is visiting Thursday the animal shelter in the town of Monroe. The group is visiting other shelters to get ideas for the one to be built in Bibb County off Fulton Mill Road.
Also Tuesday, commissioners heard presentations from retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, president of the 21st Century Partnership, which aims to support Robins Air Force Base.
McMahon updated commissioners on potential issues facing Robins, including the current sequestration mandated by the federal government. McMahon said the estimated economic impact of the budget cuts on Middle Georgia is $150 million from April to September.
McMahon also told commissioners he expects at least one more Base Closure and Realignment Commission by 2017, which could impact Robins. He said the partnership is examining how Robins measures up to 12 other comparable military bases that Robins could be competing against.
In other county news, officials are asking residents to give their opinions for improvements to local recreation centers. Surveys can be found online at www.co.bibb.ga.us/survey/ParksRec2013.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.