Macon, Bibb still fighting over split of grant

Though the federal government offered Macon and Bibb County $128,482 in September, the two local governments are still fighting over how to split the money.

City officials have been arguing since last summer that they should get 80 percent of the Justice Assistance Grant, while county officials say they deserve 50 percent. The governments barely met a June deadline to even apply for the money.

The JAG grant is a relatively small amount of money for each government, but it has been highly contentious. Macon wants to use the money to buy dashboard cameras for police cars, radar guns, laptop computers and mapping software. Bibb County plans to use its money to buy drug-testing materials for its drug court.

Macon officials contend that 80 percent of the crime happens in the city and that the city should get 80 percent of the money. Bibb County runs the drug court for all county residents, and county officials say city residents constitute about 80 percent of participants.

The U.S. Department of Justice normally recommends an 80-20 split, but it considers Macon and Bibb County to be “disparate,” meaning there’s an unusual sharing of the costs.

The federal government is not recommending a particular split in this case and is leaving it up to Macon and Bibb County to settle.

Angella LaTour, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said there is no deadline for an agreement. But neither local government can spend or even commit the money until they agree on a split and the federal agency approves it, LaTour said.

Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said he hopes the grant dispute can be settled soon.

City and county officials have said they’re getting along without the money now.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.