Rynders puts consolidation on front burner - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rynders puts consolidation on front burner

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Representative Ed Rynders (R) Representative Ed Rynders (R)
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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A proposal that circumvents city and county leaders and takes the issue of consolidating Albany and Dougherty County to the voters is stalled as city and county leaders weigh in.

We first told you Monday that state Representative Ed Rynders proposed a bill that would let citizens vote.

There are both city and county offices in the government center and some of the services citizens receive have already been consolidated, but there are varying opinions on whether all of those services should be combined.

Tuesday the Albany-Dougherty Chamber of Commerce polled their legislative affairs committee and local businesses, they also voted to support the legislation to let voters choose with the stipulation local leaders support the issue.

On the street it seems most people in Albany and Dougherty County want their say on consolidating the two governments.

"I think the people here should ought to be able to vote on it," said Charlie Coleman. 

"Because the people's opinions count," said Alisha Bryant.

"Most of the residents here are concerned about the city and what goes on, trying to get involved and stay involved and I think we should have a say in what goes on," said Dwayne Walker.

Some of them just don't like the way the state leaders went around local government.

"Yes they should, but I still think they should have talked it over first with the city officials before they just threw it out, it's sort of like they got sucker-punched," Marcia Smith said.

Representative Carol Fullerton told us she agreed to co-sponsored the bill Thursday and she supports consolidation. But now she says if local leaders don't agree to it, she'll pull her support.

Representative Ed Rynders is willing to make the language fit what local leaders want, but says inaction isn't acceptable.

"If they feel like there's something that there's a reason we need to re-look at it, then certainly I'm open minded but they're going to have to present a compelling reason on why we shouldn't move forward," Rynders said.

I asked Representative Ed Rynders how long he would take input from city and county leaders before he took action and asked the legislature to consider this measure. He didn't have an answer for that question but still said he intends to give the votes a chance to weigh in on this issue.

Representative Carol Fullerton said she is getting calls from city and county leaders and is working with them, hoping to reach an agreement.

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