Consolidating Albany and Dougherty County governments revived - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Consolidating Albany and Dougherty County governments revived

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Possible Albany and Dougherty County consolidation will get new life in the upcoming legislative session.

Senator Freddie Powell Sims said Wednesday she will make good on her promise to re-introduce legislation that will allow voters in Albany and Dougherty County to decide whether to consolidate local governments.

Talk of consolidating both the city and county government who work out of the same government center has been going on for years.

The issue came up again at the end of Wednesday's legislative affairs meeting. This time it will be introduced as a Senate Bill, but it's still to be determined if it will get to the voters.

The announcement came at this year's legislative issues breakfast.

"I plan to reintroduce the Albany Dougherty Consolidation Bill," announced Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D)-Dawson.

A promise Senator Freddie Powell Sims plans to keep, possibly before the next legislative session even begins.

"I promised the people of Albany, Georgia that they would get an opportunity to vote on this important issue and I'm going to reintroduce it," said Sims.

Over the summer Sims has worked with City Attorney Nathan Davis and the Legislative Committee to fix the language issues from last year's Senate Bill 538 which called for a full time mayor or CEO if the two consolidate.

"We revisited the language and hopefully everything is in order," said Sims.

County leaders who've spent years working on bringing the issue to the people are glad it's being revived.

"I was rather disappointed about it myself. I feel like any person in this country should have the right to decide how they're governed," said Dougherty County Commissioner Dr. Charles Lingle.

"I think a majority of people do want to vote on it whether they're for it or against it," said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard.

House members however expressed concern how consolidation might work with redistricting, indicating now may not be the time to bring up the issue.

State Representative Winfred Dukes says if Senator Sims drops the Senate Bill, the House will owe her the consideration of looking over the measure, but he'll reserve judgement on whether it should go to the voters, until he sees the measure. Representative Ed Rynders said he would also like to see the legislation before making comments.

Senator Sims says she plans to introduce the Senate Bill at the beginning of the session to ensure there's plenty of time for questions to be raised and for the measure to meet cross over day deadlines.


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