Macon committee agrees to Dec. 31 swearing-in for consolidated government

jgaines@macon.comDecember 2, 2013 

After an hourlong wrangle Monday, a Macon City Council committee agreed a consent order to swear in the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government on Dec. 31 should be forwarded to the full council for a final vote Tuesday night.

Mayor Robert Reichert proposed the consent order to help settle a discrepancy in the legislation that sets up the new government. The case of when the government will formally start is before Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis for a hearing on Friday. Reichert’s consent order seeks agreement from city and county officials to swear in himself and the new nine-member commission just before the existing city and county governments dissolve.

A resolution on the consent order came before the council’s Ordinances & Resolutions Committee, but Councilman Frank Tompkins substituted a committee amendment which specifically says the swearing-in won’t affect the District 2 commission seat. That seat is still in contention between Councilmen Henry Ficklin and Larry Schlesinger, and a new election will be held sometime in January.

Bibb County commissioners are expected to take up a matching measure Tuesday.

Ficklin objected to the early swearing-in, saying it made the “most sense” to revert instead to a Jan. 14 swearing-in, as the consolidation legislation originally called for.

The court-ordered redo of the District 2 election might be over by then, Ficklin said. But Councilman Tom Ellington said it would be “shocking” for the results to be certified by Jan. 14.

Reichert walked into Monday’s meeting after council members had debated for 50 minutes. He said the new government is recommended to start with the new year to prevent multiple issues of W-2 forms to city and county employees, who will then technically start jobs for the new government.

On hearing that, Ficklin withdrew his amendment. His intent was to make the transition smoother, but he was willing to reconsider if moving the date back to Jan. 14 would cause more problems, Ficklin said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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