Houston & Peach

Political Notebook: Searching for a chorus

A meeting of a regional planning organization — Macon Area Transportation Study — offered a way for Macon and Bibb County leaders to, er, build some bridges.

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert was pushing for a runway expansion of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport when County Commissioner Joe Allen said he didn’t know whether the city had sought federal funding.

“Bibb County and city commissioners are 100 million miles apart,” Allen said.

Allen said the expansion is important to get traffic from Savannah’s ports. “You’re singing my song,” Reichert replied.

City and county officials also agreed to share more information about public transit efforts.

Locked up

Macon and Bibb County continue to fight over a split of federal Justice Assistance Grant money, with an application — but not necessarily an agreement on the split — due at the end of this month.

Macon wants 80 percent, citing crime statistics showing about that much of the crime in Bibb County occurs in Macon’s city limits. Bibb County wants 50 percent, saying the money helps the county-funded drug court, where 73 percent of clientele come from within the city limits.

Worth noting: A government is advertising its crime rate for political and economic advantage. This doesn’t happen often.

No purchasing office

With all the debate over the city’s health-care proposal for retirees, one thing that might have slipped notice earlier this week was the Macon City Council eliminating $40,000 from the budget. Mayor Robert Reichert had proposed that money for a community purchasing center.

The center would have centralized the process for local businesses trying to bid on city, county and other government contracts. Not only that, it would have informed local businesses of jobs they could bid on, Reichert said. He said the process would have been advantageous for small and minority-owned businesses.

Councilman Rick Hutto led the charge against the line item, noting during Tuesday’s meeting to pass the budget that the item had already been rejected by the council on several other occasions.

Budgeting time

Bibb County commissioners are slated to approve a budget at 10 a.m. Monday in their courthouse meeting room. The proposed budget of $82.4 million is $8.9 million lower than last year’s revised budget. But it also counts on tapping $9.4 million from the county’s reserves to balance the budget. No tax increase is expected.

Oil in perspective

University of Delaware researchers are calculating the impact of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in terms regular folks can understand.

Citing the best estimates and a knowledge of how the spilled oil could have been refined, the site said Thursday that the spilled oil would’ve fueled 118,000 cars for a year, plus 9,800 trucks for a year, plus 163 days’ fuel for a containership.

Put in local perspective, if we assume every motor vehicle on local tax rolls is a car, and simply ignore the fuel available to trucks and ships, Houston County’s cars would be on the road for 13 months. Cars in Macon would be on the road for exactly two years. Cars bought new in Gordon would be on the road until they ran out of gas — in 2072. In short, it’s a lot of oil.

Put in national perspective, the federal government reports about 247 million motor vehicle registrations of all kinds. At that rate, the spilled oil might have powered the nation’s cars and trucks for a number of hours, maybe about a fifth of a day.

You can make your own estimates for different places and different estimates of the spill. For the University of Delaware page, visit tinyurl.com/oilestimates. Counts of Georgia motor vehicle registrations by counties and cities are available in the tax digest statements, tinyurl.com/gadigests.

Writers Mike Stucka and Phillip Ramati contributed to this report.