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Douglasville, county spar over service delivery agreement
by Bill Baldowski
August 20, 2014 11:09 AM | 2732 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglas County’s top elected official said he foresees working out disagreements on a state-mandated service delivery strategy between the county and Douglasville by the end of the year.

Until then, however, state funding for such needed infrastructure projects as roadways remains in jeopardy, city and county officials said.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners and the Austell and Villa Rica city councils recently reached agreement on services, leaving Douglasville as the only remaining county municipality without an agreement.

The county provides the two disputed services, fire protection and animal control, as well as tax collection, poll workers for elections, library and health department services to the city.

Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons said the two governments already have resolved differences on most services. Without an approved service delivery agreement, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs said neither governmental entity would be eligible for grants for roadways, industrial development and community development and other projects from the department.

These sanctions could possibly affect roadway construction and industrial and economic development in Douglas County, county officials said.

Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan said, “As long as the lines of communication remain open, things can be accomplished and I am confident this agreement can be worked out by the end of the year,” he said.

Persons said, however, it is Douglasville which is taking the initiative in trying to schedule and hold meetings with Worthan and County Administrator Eric Linton to finalize the agreement.

Worthan said he believes that, as the chief elected officials of Douglas County and Douglasville, he and Persons were elected to their respective leadership positions “to make these decisions.”

“It is our responsibility, without paying some outside attorneys to argue our cases, that we should be able to sit down and come up with an agreement,” he said.

“In my opinion. I think we are almost there.”

Persons said that Douglasville will continue to work with the county commission and hopes the remaining differences can be resolved. He said the city council adopted a resolution June 16 saying the city “was willing, on the basis of population, to pay a proportional share of the cost for fire protection services and animal control services.”

He also said believes tax equity is the real issue.

“It is not fair to property owners in the city of Douglasville to be paying county taxes for services which are not provided by the county within the city of Douglasville,” Persons said.

The mayor referred to such services as Douglas County parks and recreation facilities and roads within the city limits that are fully maintained by Douglasville employees.

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