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Will city votes be counted twice?

Jack Stone Jack Stone

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The vote for consolidating Albany and Dougherty County is nearing. But one county commissioner said he can't vote to pass the issue along to the citizens because the vote won't be fair.

Commissioner Jack Stone says the way the vote has to take place will basically cancel out what unincorporated voters want regarding consolidation.

If and when city and county residents get a chance to vote on consolidation, this is how it will happen.

There will be only one vote, but people who live within the city will have their vote counted twice. Once for the city, another for the county. That's because they pay taxes in both, but Commissioner Stone says that isn't fair.

Dougherty County Chairman Jeff Sinyard wants to see the consolidation issue decided soon. "I'd like to see the charter move forward so that the people have a chance to vote."

Commissioner Jack Stone has repeatedly said he wants the people to vote, too, but not the way it must take place per state law, where people who live in the city get to vote on a city referendum and a county referendum.

Stone says that means people city residents will decide the entire issue, even if the majority in the unincorporated area vote the opposite way. "If you live in the unincorporated area, no matter how you vote, your vote's not going to count, you've got to depend on downtown to go along with you. It's not a fair situation whatsoever."

For him to change his mind, the state would have to change the law. That won't happen before the county is set to vote on the issue, hopefully by the end of October, which Sinyard hopes will result in the people getting to vote.

"The ultimate goal of the meeting today and the process over the next six or so weeks is to come up with a charter and will give the citizens something that they can vote on that they have some faith in."

Though finding faith in the way that vote takes place, may take a little longer. The charter must pass in both the city and the county in order for consolidation to take place.

Chairman Sinyard also would like for the city and county to vote on the charter simultaneously, though the city has not yet ironed out an exact schedule to move forward.


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