September 5, 2018 10:56:21 AM
Tuesday, District 4 supervisor Jeff Smith proposed to the board of supervisors reestablishing a committee of county and city officials to deal with issues that emerge on matters affecting both governments.
There is but one thing wrong with the suggestion: It didn't come a couple of years ago.
In making his proposal, Smith reflected on the work of a similar committee that was in place when he was first elected to the board of supervisors in 2007.
The committee, which included representatives from the board of supervisors and city council along with city and county administrators, worked on problems that emerged from those areas where the county and city were partners.
Somewhere along the way, the committee quit meeting and was forgotten.
But over the past two years, as heated disputes emerged over just about every joint effort between the city and county, the absence of such a body to mediate disagreements and find common ground has meant there are few things the city and county work on together.
The county has pulled out of its joint parks and recreation department while the city has pulled funding for the LINK. Caught in the crossfire, at least temporarily, was funding for the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. A grass-roots campaign to make sure county and city officials understand how important that funding is appears to have prevented the library from becoming collateral damage in this county/city warfare.
We see the value in Smith's suggestion. For one, it would bring those with the most knowledge of the details together to talk with one another. In the absence of that, officials from each group have made public statements, with the other side also responding publicly. Far better to work those differences out across the table than through the media.
The supervisors plan to act on the proposal once the city has signed off on it. While the city discussed and was generally supportive of the committee at their meeting last night, they did not vote on it. We're confident the proposal will move forward though.
Whether they like it or not, city and county officials will inevitably have to work together in the future.
Having a mechanism in place to collaborate on projects and to resolve differences before they become polarizing influences is a wise move. It's better late than never and we commend Smith for proposing it.