Macon City Council members are likely to come to grips this week with the need to further postpone their long-running negotiations with Bibb County on how to divvy up delivery of public services.
The current deadline for an agreement is Oct. 31, but in recent days Mayor Robert Reichert told council members that no agreement was likely to be reached by then. If not — or if no extension is requested — the city and county would be ineligible to get state grants, loans or permits until the matter is settled.
A formal request for extension would probably come in the form of a letter from the mayor’s office to the Ordinances and Resolutions Committee, committee Chairman James Timley said.
“I don’t know how the council’s going to react to that,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s being done with the effort to get it solved.”
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The committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Monday to set the full council’s agenda for the 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting. Timley said Friday that he hadn’t yet heard whether the extension request would be made, but he expected it since Reichert has said it’s likely.
The mayor’s spokesman, Andrew Blascovich, said Friday that he also didn’t know for sure about the timing of any extension request, but he does expect some movement before the Oct. 31 deadline.
The city and county started mediation of the service-delivery dispute in July.
The shortest extension the city and county could request would push the deadline for an agreement to Feb. 28. Alternatively, local governments could ask the court system to resolve the dispute and stave off state punishment until that decision is made.
In other business, some action is coming on a similarly long-awaited issue: health insurance for city employees and retirees.
It’s been several years since the city’s health plan has been bid out.
A consulting contract will be given to the Employee Development and Compensation Committee for approval. The deal with Benefit Advocate Inc. would engage that company to help write the request for proposals for a health-insurance bid, Blascovich said.
“We’re piggybacking off of Bibb County’s effort at the same time. They’re using the same consultant,” he said.
Benefit Advocate would have 90 days to prepare the request for proposals, Blascovich said.
Monday, the Appropriations Committee will likely send to the council a $5,497 increase in the match for a grant benefiting the Middle Georgia Regional Airport. The city’s overall match for the grant — paid out of the airport fund — is about $72,000, but that’s only 2.5 percent of the total cost of the runway resurfacing project, according to Councilman Tom Ellington, vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Another 2.5 percent is coming from the state, but the bulk will come from the federal government, he said.
The federal grant, which only became available a few weeks ago, has already won committee approval, but bids for the resurfacing work came back a little higher than expected, requiring a slight increase in the match, Ellington said.
A proposed agreement with Oregon consulting firm Western Economic Services to study local roadblocks to fair housing — an analysis vital for the city’s continued eligibility for U.S. Housing & Urban Development funds — will be before the Community Resources and Development committee for a second time, and it is likely to return unchanged to the main council agenda, committee chairman Larry Schlesinger said.
Previously, council members asked why the out-of-state firm, which submitted the second-lowest bid, was preferred.
“There was a lower bid than Western Economic Services from some group in Marietta,” Schlesinger said. “Even though (Internal Affairs Director) Keith Moffett made it really clear that Western Economic was more qualified to do the job, there were questions raised on the floor.”
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.