Macon-Bibb commissioners send disparity study issue back to committee

pramati@macon.comFebruary 18, 2014 

A resolution that would have called for Macon-Bibb County’s government to examine disparities in how city contracts are awarded was sent back to committee Tuesday after some confusion over wording in the resolution.

Mayor Robert Reichert wants the yet-to-be-hired director of the Office of Business Affairs to weigh in on any potential study, he said during the pre-commission meeting. The director’s job is being advertised, and the city has already received a few applications, Reichert said.

But Commissioner Virgil Watkins said during the meeting he was confused by some of the language that was amended while the resolution was being discussed during a committee meeting.

Watkins said he thinks there are two separate issues and wants a disparity study to be conducted regardless who is hired as director and when that person starts work.

“My interest was that when the new small business department is formed, that there’s a list of things (it needs) to work on,” Watkins said after Tuesday’s regular commission meeting.

Reichert said the new director would give the city guidance if a study needs to be conducted, and if so, what it should focus on.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll have a level playing field for all businesses,” said Reichert, adding that this would be inclusive for minority- and female-owned, local and outside, and large and small businesses. “We want to provide access to businesses of all sizes, races, genders.”

Some minority business owners also asked commissioners for a study during the public comments portion of Tuesday’s meeting. Shawn Stafford, of Stafford Builders Inc., told commissioners he has never been awarded a city contract before consolidation, and only one Bibb County contract.

“I submit that we need a diversity study,” he said.

In other Macon-Bibb County business Tuesday, commissioners approved:

• Giving the Bibb County Board of Elections $125,460 to fund unexpected election costs.

• Adjusting the pension plan to include employees hired after Jan. 1.

• Delegating to the Tax Commissioner’s Office the authority to waive collection of penalties and interest assessed for failure to pay ad valorem taxes.

• Increasing pay for jurors to $25 for their first day of service, and to give $8,000 to the Clerk of Superior Court’s office to cover the extra expense.

• Requesting adoption of a local act of the General Assembly that establishes a community improvement district along Eisenhower Parkway between Interstate 75 and I-475.

• Approving a request by Jeremy Bryant to put on a fireworks display at Arrowhead Park on Memorial Day weekend.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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