The original contract between Douglasville and Douglas County was to have been submitted to the Department of Community Affairs by the end of this month, according to Douglasville City Manager Bill Osborne.
This follows the commission’s decision on Jan. 4 to extend its contract to provide city services to Douglasville, Villa Rica and Austell, including fire and animal control service, through Dec. 31.
However, Osborne said the city would like to complete a new service delivery contract with the county earlier than Dec. 31.
Although the county and its cities are in negotiations with regard to county services being delivered to these municipalities beyond Dec. 31, Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan and Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons expressed confidence any obstacles concerning prices or other issues could be worked out through negotiations.
“Our county administrator, Eric Linton, and I have had about a half dozen meetings in the last year with the city managers and mayors of our municipalities,” Worthan said.
“I think we can come up with solutions to any service delivery issue by negotiation and not have to go to court,” he said.
Persons agreed, saying the cities and counties should be able to negotiate any issues regarding service delivery contracts.
“You are going to have disagreements along the way,” Persons said.
“My wife and I have disagreements but we work things out and the same holds true for service delivery issues between the cities and county,” he said.
Worthan and Persons also agreed that negotiations are far better than litigation. If negotiations failed and the matter had to be settled in court, taxpayers would foot the legal bills.
“Through our resolution, we are asking the cities to negotiate with us and come up with a service delivery contract for next year,” Worthan said.
“We have the authority to negotiate and not have to go to litigation and we sincerely want to do that,” he said.
New service delivery contracts are required every decade after the release of the federal census.
The extent of county services being provided to cities is determined by the population of those cities, Worthan said.
The service delivery issue is being discussed, for the first time, under the Gold Dome this year.
According to Persons, District 110 state Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, has introduced legislation designed to generate more negotiations between governmental entities instead of going to court.
Welch worked with the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia to create the legislation.
Welch said current Georgia law is such that cities and counties are required to negotiate an agreement on services to be provided, what areas these services are to be provided in, and how these services are to be paid for.