Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen took offense at a policy suggestion made Tuesday by fellow Commissioner Bert Bivins that would put limits on how commissioners deal with county personnel.
During a Tuesday commission meeting, Bivins said he wants a policy that allows any employee who is given a request by a commissioner to report the request to a department head or the chief administrative officer if the employee is uncomfortable with the request.
Bivins said he has wanted the policy on the books for the past few years, but he brought up the issue again Tuesday because the county picked up many new employees with city workers transferring to county employment July 1. Bivins said the policy isn’t aimed at a specific commissioner.
“This is something I brought up a long time ago,” Bivins said during the meeting. “There’s some concern from the department heads that there are too many bosses. A commissioner might tell a department head what to do, and it might be something that (the department head) is not comfortable with.”
Bivins suggested a policy in which a department head could go to Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson with a problem, and that Layson could talk to Chairman Sam Hart, who could bring the issue to the full commission.
Though Bivins never referred to any specific commissioner, Allen took offense, alleging that Bivins was singling him out.
Allen stayed quiet as the commissioners discussed the issue, but he spoke sharply toward the end of the discussion.
“I’ve been a commissioner longer than any of you, so say what you want to say,” Allen told them. “I represent the people of my district ... and I don’t feel I’ve done something wrong.”
Allen said two constituents spoke to him about an issue while he was at church Sunday, and he called the county’s engineering department and left a message to get the issue resolved. He said he frequently gets calls from Bibb County residents asking for help in resolving issues, even from residents not in his district.
Allen said he has had issues with every commissioner on one matter or another over the past several months, and he stepped down as vice chairman of the commission, he said, after Chairman Sam Hart didn’t reappoint him to most of the major committees, including finance.
“This is personal,” he said.
Allen said after the meeting that the discussion was enough to change his mind about running for office once consolidation goes into effect. Initially, Allen -- who faces Republican Robert Abbott in November for his district’s seat -- said he would step down after serving a final year in office, if he won. Now, he said, he plans to run next year either for a commission seat in the new government or for Bibb County mayor.
“That all changed (Tuesday) with their snide remarks,” he said. “Either I’ll run for a commission seat or for the mayor’s job, one of the two.”
After the meeting, Bivins insisted his proposal was aimed at the entire commission, not any individuals.
“I’m taking up a situation that has the potential for problems,” he said. “I brought it up two or three years ago. It’s an ongoing thing. We have some new people who don’t know how the county works, and the board needs to make it clear to them.”
In other county business Tuesday, Mike Ford, president and CEO of NewTown Macon, made a presentation to the board regarding downtown development that has grown from a $5 million bond issued by the county and the Development Authority of Bibb County.
NewTown, which selects and manages the projects, is using the bond money to help redevelop downtown properties into lofts or businesses.
Three projects are close to completion, Ford said. The first, the Cotton Avenue Loft, 377 Cotton Ave., will include six lofts and a commercial business in the space. Its grand opening is Friday.
The Dannenberg Lofts, 476 Third St., will feature 69 lofts and 6,800 square feet of commercial businesses when it opens. The final project, The Lofts at 401 Cherry Street, will add 20 lofts and 3,200 square feet of commercial space.
Also on Tuesday, the commissioners approved the following people to be appointed to the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission: David Sims, Sylvia McGee, Clay Huffman, Judy Gordon, Dwight Kerr, Suzan Bennett, Brian Adams, Mallory Jones, Cindy Drury, Suzanne Worthen, Billy Oliver, Kris Hattaway and Terri Gibson.
The commissioners reappointed Martha Carter, Carolyn Crayton, Charles Jay, Keith Moffett, David Hunnicutt, Dee Newton, Melinda Robinson, Theresa Robinson, Mark Stevens, Charlotte Woody and Helen Weathers to continue to serve on the KMBB Commission.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.