Macon, Bibb settling federal grant sharing issue

The city of Macon and Bibb County have apparently resolved a dispute about how to share a federal law enforcement grant.

Mayor Robert Reichert and Bibb Commission Chairman Sam Hart signed an intergovernmental agreement Monday that outlines a 60/40 split of the $572,000 Justice Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The city would receive the larger portion of that money.

For the past four years, the two local governments have split equally JAG awards that ranged from $34,000 to nearly $115,000.

However, the Justice Department has consistently recommended that Macon take 80 percent of the funding since most crime occurs in the city, officials said.

This year, with the grant inflated by federal stimulus money, Macon sought its recommended share.

Police hoped to buy new technology and equipment, including records management software, forensic video imaging, in-car cameras and a barcode evidence tracking system.

The county had resisted surrendering its share of money, primarily because it had been using the funds to help pay for a drug court program.

County officials argued that the drug court served mostly city residents, so the 50/50 split was fair.

But both local governments had to agree how to split the money or nobody would get any of it. And Monday was the deadline.

“We were negotiating,” Keith Moffett, Reichert’s director of internal affairs, told the City Council’s Appropriations Committee. “Today being the final day, the mayor and the chairman came up with an agreement.”

Although Reichert has already signed the agreement, the council still needs to ratify it before Macon is fully bound by its stipulations. But officials said they thought that action, which will come in the near future, did not need to take place before the federal deadline.

To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.