City commission may expand WG&L services

City commission may expand WG&L services

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany City commissioners are looking at restructuring the WG&L Commission, to extend their services to the unincorporated areas of Dougherty County, and even surrounding counties.

Commissioners discussed amending several sections of the Charter of the City of Albany to replace the WG&L Commission with a Utility Board.

City officials want to change the structure to extend water, gas distribution, and electricity services beyond corporate limits of the City of Albany, allow the utility to offer services to surrounding counties. Commissioners debated tabling the issue until January.

Albany city commissioners are looking at several ways to bring in money as they look at a dwindling budget in three years.

One of those ways is restructuring the WG&L Commission to a utility board and offer those services to Dougherty and surrounding counties. Albany City commissioners approved the first step in expanding the services of the Water Gas and Light Commission.

"We now have sanitary sewer under that umbrella, stonewater utility is under that umbrella, telecom and of course natural gas, water and electricity," said Dorothy Hubbard.

Commissioners will vote on amending several sections of the Charter of the City of Albany to replace the WG&L Commission with a Utility Board.

"Where historically it had been water, gas and electric. So now it would have oversight of sewer and other utilities. So Utility Board I think is a better name for it rather than Water, Gas and Light," said City Manager Tom Berry.

In addition to the expansion, the city will offer utilities to Dougherty and surrounding counties, which will increase the city's cash flow, something city officials say is greatly needed, especially once their MEAG funds expire in 2018.

"It's going to take many ways to solve that problem, but this will be one great way to try to help solve it," said City Attorney Nathan Davis,

"That is one of the goals to be able to generate additional funds, to be able to go out and we are able to sell. And the only thing we would do, would be to market our products, as any good business would do," Hubbard said.

But the decision to move forward had commissioners split. "I'm for tabling it," said Commissioner Tommie Postell.

Commissioners Bobby Coleman and Jon Howard agreed.

"If we're going to expand these lines into other counties, we're going to make sure that Dougherty County citizens are taken care of first. So that was my opposition to it, is that let's take your home first and then let's explore other opportunities."

The amendment moved forward with a four to three vote.

Commissioners have to vote twice to change a charter. The first official vote will be during their meeting on the 16th and the final vote will be next month.

Commissioner Roger Marietta said they originally discussed this idea back in May, and need to move forward now. Commissioner B. J. Fletcher, Bob Langstaff, and Mayor Dorothy Hubbard agreed.

There have to be two votes to change a charter. The final vote will be next month.

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