ATLANTA -- When state lawmakers wrote the merger agreement between Macon and Bibb, they postponed the sticky work of looking into possible overhauls of the boards and authorities that handle things such as courting industry and overseeing public housing.
Legislators have yet to return to the job.
State Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, who has been pushing for the review, sponsored the 2012 bill that eventually became the Macon-Bibb charter.
"We committed to coming back the next year, taking a look at the boards and authorities, what their functions are, (and determining whether they have) been active," she said.
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It hasn't happened, and Randall said she doesn't feel good about it. She said she's especially concerned about the mayor's strength in making appointments to those boards.
Generally, the mayor makes appointments -- though there are exceptions, such as one board being saved a seat on another board. Some of the mayor's appointments are subject to the elected county commission's approval, while others are not.
Randall said the mayor now gets to make appointments that old laws assigned to the county commission chairman -- an office that has since been abolished. She argues that it's worth getting more people involved in making appointments, possibly by giving some appointment power to Macon-Bibb County Commission members. She wants to draw from a larger pool of potential board members.
"If you look at the boards and authorities, it's the same people being appointed over and over again. The lack of women and minorities, in 2016, it's not reflective of the population of our community," Randall said.
At least 20 boards, authorities and commissions exist in Macon-Bibb County, at least on paper. A 2012 report by the Middle Georgia Regional Commission found that many of them, but it said some may be inactive. At least one has started meeting since then.
Some of the bodies oversee prominent public activities such as transit and economic development. Macon-Bibb's own seal features Fort Hawkins, a site overseen by the Fort Hawkins Commission.
State Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Macon, is the chairman of Macon-Bibb's delegation of eight lawmakers at the state Capitol. He acknowledged the delegation promised it would review boards and authorities, as well as their powers. And he said he thinks it's worth doing.
"I'm not saying changes are sought ... but I think it's the responsibility of the delegation to make sure we do our due diligence," Epps said.
But on the other hand, Epps said he has heard "no concern from local government" about boards and authorities.
State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, doesn't want to take any action on the matter without some direction from the folks at home.
"I think that's the mayor and the commission's responsibility to come to us to tell us if they want something to be changed, if something needs to be changed," Peake said.
While boards and authorities might be too obscure to make civics textbooks, Randall said they're important.
First, they can make big decisions about things such as urban planning and industry recruitment.
Second, being appointed to one of the boards can be an audition for higher office.
It's a "way for us to identify some leaders that could ... serve in that capacity and may be willing to offer themselves for other capacities for service," Randall said.
Epps said he doesn't foresee any legislation this year that would change boards and authorities, partly because time is running out. The session will end at a date yet to be announced probably in late March or early April.
Local governments have many ways to fill boards and authorities. Elected officials can split the appointments. Governments can also give appointment power to private or community groups such as bar associations.
There is no single option that is universally best, said Harry Hayes, a local government expert at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.
"One option we have seen involves the local government establishing a pool of volunteers who have expressed an interest in serving," he said.
The busiest boards and authorities require hours and hours of commitment each month, sometimes including long evening hours and requiring careful attention to complicated tasks.
That may be one cause of a difficulty Hayes mentioned.
"Finding citizens willing to serve on boards and authorities can be a daunting task," he said.
To contact writer Maggie Lee, e-mail email@example.com.