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City ready to work with county despite hard feelings

 

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PDF file File: November 6, 2012 agenda.

Jeff Clark

 

After more than a month of hard feelings, the City of Columbus is getting over it. The "it" in question is some ill will between city and county officials, fostered by a derogatory remark made by a high-ranking county board member. 

 

The city council Tuesday will discuss waiving a landfill fee and allowing the county to haul debris from the old health department, located on Military Road, and dump it in the city-owned facility for free.  

 

The discussion comes one month after Lowndes County Administrator Ralph Billingsley approached the council regarding the waiving of a dump fee on the old health department project and the dumping of brush and vegetation from a drainage project in the Pickensville Road subdivision. Billingsley's request was tabled after a council member mentioned a derogatory remark aimed at the council by District 1 Supervisor and board president Harry Sanders. In a weekly newspaper article, Sanders called the council "SOBs."  

 

The combined fee cost totals were projected to be approximately $27,000.  

 

"This is no reflection on your request -- we've had some good relationships in the past -- but your board president, Harry Sanders, called us SOBs," Karriem said during the Oct. 2 meeting. "I think those statements need to be looked at before I vote on anything. You want some in-kind services and we're SOBs? No one has said anything about this. From (Ward 1) Councilman (Gene) Taylor to (Ward 6) Councilman (Bill) Gavin, that's a strong statement. I have a problem being called an SOB."  

 

The controversy continued when Sanders, Billingsley and Lowndes County Purchasing Agent Terry Thompson alleged the city would not allow them to dump brush and vegetation in the landfill due to the lack of a charge account with the city. The county then chose to use a dump-site in the Caledonia area, a move that would significantly increase the cost of the project. The city repeatedly disputed the county's claims that it had denied the county use of the landfill. 

 

Although there remains some hurt feelings, it appears the council is in a conciliatory mood going into Tuesday's council meeting. 

 

"I don't think this will be an issue tomorrow," Karriem said Monday. "Anything we can do to help the county, we're going to do. But that being said, I still think we are owed an apology. But we can't let the actions of one man keep us from doing what is best for the citizens of Columbus and Lowndes County." 

 

Karriem said the communication breakdown over using the city landfill for the Pickensville Road project is still under investigation. 

 

In other city business expected to be considered Tuesday, the council will discuss providing an additional $100,000 to have a second set of restrooms and increase parking and access at the Columbus Soccer Complex.  

 

The Columbus City Council meets Tuesday at the Municipal Complex at 5 p.m.

 

 

 

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