Macon-Bibb task force wraps up work

Group gets final progress reports on merger

jgaines@macon.comDecember 18, 2013 

After 16 months of work on merging Macon and Bibb County governments, the consolidation task force took its final actions Wednesday, just two weeks before the new government launches.

“I think, if my notes are right, this is the 90th meeting,” said Laura Mathis, deputy director of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, which has hosted the task force throughout that time.

As their final actions, task force members approved a proposed budget for the Macon-Bibb government and a long list of ordinances, both of which newly elected commissioners are expected to adopt at their inaugural meeting Dec. 31.

Mayor-elect Robert Reichert said he hopes commissioners will agree to ratify those as “almost a consent agenda,” with no fuss. Any desired changes can be made later.

Paula Sanford, of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, gave highlights from the 300-plus page budget, a combination of existing city and county budgets for the remaining six months of their mutual fiscal year.

For that period the budget will be $137.5 million, including all funds.

The budget proposal was approved with no discussion.

Also Wednesday, local designer Mark Strozier received a $250 check and recognition for the winning design of a new Macon-Bibb County seal, which -- if adopted by the new commission -- will adorn letterheads, vehicles and buildings. Its four-part field includes representations of Ocmulgee National Monument, local geography, an electric guitar and a Greek capital.

Separately, several city and county offices have recently moved in with one another. Sixty-two people have been shuffled so far, said Charles Coney, special assistant to the Bibb County chief administrative officer.

He said two downtown buildings are to be renovated next: the former bank at 455 Walnut St., and the old Sears building at the corner of Third and Walnut streets.

The Bibb County tax commissioner should be able to move into the bank building by this summer, but the Sears building -- to be used by the sheriff and for record storage -- needs more work, Coney said.

“We’re on track to hopefully have that by the end of 2014,” he said.

About 500 government computer users are moving onto new systems as the government prepares its new website, www.maconbibb.us., said Nick Kouloungis, director of technology services for the Middle Georgia Regional Commission. Next city and county employees will be moved onto email at that address, he said.

“When those emails change over that’ll be the last thing, and right now we’re on track to have that done before the first of the year,” Kouloungis said.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, all those involved -- city and county officials, regional commission staff, Carl Vinson Institute consultants, state legislators and task force members -- thanked each other for months of cooperation in preparing for the new government.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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