City's relationship with WG&L to change - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City's relationship with WG&L to change

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This gives City Manager James Taylor control over the hiring and firing of the WG&L general manager This gives City Manager James Taylor control over the hiring and firing of the WG&L general manager
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Update:

Albany city leaders are taking more direct control over the Water Gas and Light Commission.  Tuesday, city commissioners voted four to three, to amend the city's charter to make the general manager of WG&L report to the city manager.  Supporters say it will improve communication between the city and the utility, but not everyone was on board.

City commissioners are making changes to their charter in hopes of improving the line of communication between Water Gas and Light and the City Commission.

Commissioner Bob Langstaff is one of four city commissioners who voted to amend the charter, which gives the city manager, James Taylor, control over the hiring and firing of the WG&L general manager.

"We have looked at what other cities and their relationships with their utilities have been. It's about getting information to people on the water gas and light commission. It's about making sure that information that needs to be brought in front of the city commission is brought in front of the city commission," said Langstaff.

The WG&L general manager also has to report to the city manager. But Commissioner Roger Marietta, Commissioner Jon Howard and Mayor Dorothy Hubbard opposed the charter changes.

"You talk about a charter change and there was just too much verbiage as far as I was concerned in the charter change. The other thing that I could not compromise was the city commission having any part in setting of the rates. That definitely has to be a separate entity," said Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.

Commissioners agreed that WG&L would still control rates and day to day management. Ultimately they're hoping this will improve their relationship, help with financial problems and benefit taxpayers.

"I hope they will see changes.  Because right now if I was a taxpayer I would want to know the answers to a lot of questions. Number 1, why does WG&L have over a million dollars in bad debt a year? I just read that in minutes that I was given from WG&L," said Langstaff.

Langstaff first suggested they amend the charter back in August, after questions of control arose while debating about how to pay for the costly clean up of an old manufactured gas plant. They ultimately gave Mayor Hubbard the task of gathering information, which commissioners say has been working, but it's not been enough.

WG&L leaders had no comment about Tuesday's tentative vote. Commissioners take a final vote on the proposal next Tuesday at their night meeting.

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Albany city commissioners tentatively voted to change the charter, giving the city manager more control over the general manager.

The vote was 4 to 3 with Mayor Hubbard, Commissioner Roger Marietta and Commissioner Jon Howard voting against the change. This gives City Manager James Taylor control over the hiring and firing of the WG&L general manager.

Commissioner Roger Marietta says they don't need to make such drastic changes to the charter. Marietta pointed out that WG&L's rates are the lowest in the state.

Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who was in favor of the charter change, says WG&L would still control rates and day to day management.

Commissioners will officially vote on the charter change at their next night meeting.

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