Politics & Government

Bonds for blight coming before Macon-Bibb commission

Big money is on the agenda for Macon-Bibb County commissioners during Tuesday’s committee meetings.

A resolution asking the Urban Development Authority and Industrial Authority to issue $28.3 million in bonds will be discussed in the Operations & Finance Committee.

Of that amount, $14.3 million is for refinancing older bonds at better rates. An additional $10 million is to fuel a major blight-fighting effort, as suggested by Commissioner Virgil Watkins.

There’s $2 million for more work in the Beall’s Hill neighborhood, and a final $2 million to buy up and clear houses on Wise Avenue to make room for athletic fields for Macon Charter Academy.

A resolution to be considered later in the day proposes to use $87,000 from those blight bonds to hire a project manager and pay for a comprehensive survey of empty and run-down buildings in Macon-Bibb.

PAVING WORK

Commissioners will consider a $1.4 million contract with Womack Paving Inc. to resurface 24 streets. The money would come from the annual state Local Maintenance Improvement Grant annual funds, according to the resolution.

REDEVELOPMENT PLANS

A possible feasibility study for seeking a minor-league baseball team is up for discussion, as is a proposal from Watkins to do a master redevelopment plan for Pio Nono Avenue.

RETIREMENT INCENTIVES

Meeting as a committee of the whole, commissioners will mull options for retirement incentives. Voting on an annual budget is a month or two away, and finance staff say perhaps $10 million needs to be cut. That’s why they’re looking for incentives to get 200 employees -- out of 360 eligible ones -- to retire soon. The resolution suggests offering incentives for a short period, with employees having to decide on retirement by July 31, and actually leaving their jobs by Sept. 30.

INVESTMENT REVIEW

Last week commissioner sent back to committee the appointment of a seven-member board to manage the government’s pension plan. But before that is discussed, Commissioners Gary Bechtel and Larry Schlesinger want to review the performance of Investment Portfolio Consultants. That Florida firm was hired last year to manage the pension fund’s investments. The commission as a whole currently serves as the pension board.

TOBESOFKEE BOATS

Sandy Beach at Lake Tobesofkee, which will see Lost Island Water Park opening in late May, could get another attraction: personal watercraft and paddleboat rentals.

In February the government sought bids for such an operation, and only got one offer: Georgia Power Sports LLC, a 14-year-old local company owned by Matt Reno. A resolution up for debate Tuesday would lease a spot on Sandy Beach to Georgia Power Sports for five years at $4,200 per year.

COURTHOUSE WORK

Warren Associates Inc. may get a construction management contract for renovation of the Bibb County Courthouse. The company submitted the low bid of three. The 2011 special purpose local option sales tax includes $3.6 million for courthouse work, but some of that already has been spent. Warren would get 2 percent of the work it manages, plus up to $47,500.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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