One of the most crucial decisions Bibb County commissioners have to make in the coming weeks is what entity will serve as project manager for the county projects funded by the recently approved special purpose local option sales tax.
This decision is crucial because, depending on the expertise of whomever is hired to fill that role, the success or failure of the projects will rest on their shoulders.
A project manager is much like an air traffic controller with a sky full of planes all needing to land. And a good project manager is not neccesarily a good construction manager. It was suggested by Commission Chairman Sam Hart to hire an affiliate of Piedmont Construction Group, T.I. Real Estate. That decision was delayed on a 3-2 vote.
Not to slight any of the fine construction companies in the area, these projects cry out for an entity with a proven track record of project and construction management with the ability to handle millions of dollars of public money, and one that has the trust of the community. That entity is the Macon Housing Authority.
Projects managed by the authority -- from senior living and family sites to mini neighborhoods -- dot the city. However, the most impressive of these projects are the ones where the authority has taken entire neighborhoods and transformed them. The latest such efforts are Felton Homes and Bartlett Crossing. The authority has wiped out decades of blight and now children can ride their bikes safely on what used to be deadly streets.
The authority has managed these projects, leveraging relatively small amounts of money to garner huge sums through tax credits, and it has completed the projects on time and on budget. An added bonus is that the authority has used a diverse contractor pool to do it without mandates or quotas. The integrity of the agency is without question, and since it is a not-for-profit the price to hire it to manage these projects could be right, too.
-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board