Georgia legislators looking at bill that would reduce length of MWA terms, add member

A move is afoot at the Capitol to slice Macon Water Authority board members' terms from six to two years and give the city of Macon another seat at the table, increasing its power at the authority.

Senate Bill 280, sponsored by state Sen. Robert Brown, has already quietly cleared the state Senate. Local House members are digesting it, and water authority officials plan to be in Atlanta on Wednesday to discuss the legislation with the local delegation.

Brown, D-Macon, said his constituents feel the authority hasn't been responsive to them. Shrinking the terms to two years — the same as a state senator or representative — should fix that, he said.

"The water authority does not get a whole lot of attention. ..." Brown said. "It will bring attention to it. People will know that they can have some sort of impact."

The bill would also give the city of Macon a second appointment to the board, increasing the board from seven to eight members. The mayor would make both appointments, not the City Council. The Bibb County Commission would continue to have one seat, appointed by the full commission. The other five members would be elected from their districts to two-year terms.

There's also a section that changes the way the authority would charge apartment complexes for water.

Authority Chairman Frank Amerson declined to comment on the bill today, though authority Executive Director Tony Rojas has said that Amerson will call The Telegraph back later this afternoon to comment.

Authority member Frank Patterson said he found out about the bill Monday, through Rojas. That's the same day the bill passed the Senate. Patterson said authority members hope to meet with legislators in Atlanta tomorrow, before local representatives in the House finalize the legislation.

As a piece of local legislation, only the legislators who represent the city and county in the General Assembly must come to a consensus on the bill.

State Sen. Cecil Staton, who is Bibb County's only member in the state Senate other than Brown, said he signed onto the bill, but that perhaps a compromise can be worked out in the House to shrink terms to four years.