Politics & Government

Political Notebook: Watkins clarifies district lines

Sometimes the boundaries of Macon-Bibb County commission districts can become blurry.

In some cases one side of a street may be in one district while the other side is served by another commissioner. Every now and then there's some confusion, especially around several geographically smaller districts that are close to the more densely populated city center.

During a discussion this week about a proposed blight project, Mayor Robert Reichert touted the benefits of a resolution to provide $400,000 for work in the neighborhood surrounding the A.L. Miller school project off Montpelier Avenue. When Reichert said that "technically" one road mentioned in the discussion was in Commissioner Bert Bivins' district instead of Watkins' adjoining district, Watkins wanted to clarify Reichert's statement.

"Not technically. It definitely is," Watkins responded.

Later in the meeting, Watkins drew laughter again after suggesting using a small county-owned drone to get a better look of greenspace that county leaders would visit Friday. That drone, however, is out of commission since Federal Aviation Administration regulations prevent it from being flown for now, he was informed.

Watkins was still adamant that it could be worked out in time.

"We don't have a number for the FAA?" he asked with a smile.

MACON-BIBB EARNS BUDGET AWARD

Macon-Bibb County has been recognized for its fiscal 2016 budget, according to a news release.

The Government Finance Officers Association gave its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to the county for the second year in a row. The budget was rated on levels of proficiency in various areas such as how it served as a policy document and financial plan, the release said.

"With almost $20 million in reductions since we consolidated, the true thanks should be directed to our department heads and elected officials for finding ways to serve the public more effectively with fewer resources," Julie Moore, assistant to the county manager for budget and planning, said in the release. "Their ability to make the difficult decisions and then adapt to a new way of operating is what has made this government a success."

BLIGHT CONSULTANT TURNING INTO ORDAINED MINISTER?

One of the larger tasks for Macon-Bibb County commissioners remains deciding how to spend about $10 million in blight money.

To help steer the course, they've hired a blight consultant who compiles potential projects that come from various sources including county officials, neighborhood associations, nonprofit agencies, religious leaders and other groups. Some of those ideas, while the intentions behind them are good, may lack a plan that will lead to redevelopment, blight consultant Cass Hatcher said during a County Commission meeting this week.

Hatcher assured officials he will continue to meet with people who approach him with suggestions on how they want to improved blighted areas.

"I've already gone to a church. I feel like I'm going to be an ordained minister soon," Hatcher said Tuesday.

Telegraph writer Stanley Dunlap compiled this report.

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