Reichert asks judge to launch Macon-Bibb County government

mstucka@macon.comNovember 18, 2013 

Elections

Robert Reichert

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

Macon-Bibb County Mayor-elect Robert Reichert has asked a judge to bring the new government into existence a bit sooner than the law seems to allow.

Reichert filed a petition in Bibb County Superior Court Friday asking a judge to bless an effort to get a legal framework for the new government Dec. 31. Reichert is seeking a judicial order to protect both new and old governments from legal questions.

According to the legislation creating Macon-Bibb County, the new government is scheduled to start Jan. 1, but the new commission wouldn’t be sworn in until Jan. 14. Those commissioners are needed to pass ordinances and take care of other government basics.

Reichert is asking a judge to allow an organizational meeting of himself and the commissioners-elect to be sworn into office while adopting ordinances, a budget, personnel policies, top appointed officials, meeting schedules and other details of the new government.

“The absence of a duly sworn and effective governing authority would create significant uncertainty in Macon-Bibb County for the first two weeks of January,” Reichert wrote. That the gap “would lead to the absurd result of having a political subdivision of the state exist without a governing authority to control it.”

Reichert told The Telegraph he expects a judge will easily approve a proposed consent order.

“We are hoping that nobody is going to object to this, that this is common sense. And yet you need the legal authority to have a meeting on Dec. 31 to be effective at midnight, so we’re not down here trying to pass something in the middle of New Year’s Eve, for Pete’s sake,” Reichert said.

Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said he expects the county will file a legal response saying the county has no problem with Reichert’s effort. Hart said the government of Bibb County will soon go away.

“We are under the impression we stop as a government Dec. 31,” Hart told The Telegraph.

Hart said current county commissioners may consider how to craft their legal response at their Tuesday meeting. Reichert said Macon City Council may refer the issue to a committee, then debate it in their first meeting in December.

In an affidavit, state Rep. Nikki Randall, the Macon Democrat who chairs the legislative delegation, wrote that the discrepancy in dates was just an error, and the new government shouldn’t be launching anyway on Jan. 1, a state holiday.

Randall wrote that “the legislature intended to amend the Charter’s effective date so as to ensure the new consolidated government would be fully operational and in place on January 1, 2014.”

Technically, Reichert filed the case as the current Macon mayor; the Macon-Bibb County mayor-elect; and as a resident, with the current city and county governments as respondents. He is represented in the case by Jeffery O. Monroe, an attorney who is serving on a task force working to consolidate the two governments.

Reichert said he turned to an attorney outside the city attorney’s office because city attorneys would have a conflict of interest.

Reichert said he expected a judge could issue a ruling in early December. Monroe has drafted a consent order, with spaces for the city and county attorneys to sign.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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