Valdosta and Lowndes Co. leaders miss deadline for SDS agreement
Leaders in Valdosta and Lowndes County have not come to an agreement on the SDS. (Source: WALB)
The SDS has one main goal, to look out for taxpayers. (Source: WALB)
The state-mandated deadline was October 31, but the county and city still haven't reached a compromise.(Source: WALB)
County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter (Source: WALB)
Valdosta Mayor John Gayle (Source: WALB)
LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) -
Service delivery negotiations have continued between Lowndes County and the cities.
Leaders want to make sure taxpayers aren't paying double for any services.
The biggest concern is the deadline to approve the document, because it's already passed.
The state-mandated deadline was October 31, but the county and city still haven't reached a compromise.
Since May, leaders from Lowndes county and its five cities have met time after time, but they still have not approved a final service delivery strategy, or SDS.
The SDS has one main goal, to look out for taxpayers.
"It lays out a plan of how the cities will provide their services, how the county will provide their services in the unincorporated areas and how that funding will take place," explained County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter.
Local governments must review the SDS every 10 years or whenever the communities' comprehensive plan is reviewed.
They don't have to make changes, and the county initially wanted to keep the SDS as is.
"The county thinks that everything's fine and we just leave it the same as it was. I can't agree with that." said Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.
However, the cities pointed out 14 items to review.
And now one issue remains, extending city water and sewer services into parts of the county.
"Water and sewer mean a lot to development, to industry, to new prospects for businesses that want to locate here," said Gayle.
"If they have a customer that wants to be served by city water and sewer. They can move into and extend their limes out into the unincorporated areas of Lowndes County," explained Slaughter.
The even bigger issue is time, the state-mandated deadline has passed. Meaning the city and county can't apply for new state funding.
"We're out of compliance right now. That means that we're not eligible for any grants, loans, or permits," said Gayle.
The city wants to extend the current SDS until June 30, so funding will become available again.
However, the county said that extending the agreement just extends the problem.
"Extending it is not going to get us any closer to resolving this issue. It's just going to kick the can down the road," explained Slaughter.
Slaughter said he hopes to reach an agreement by the end of next week.
However, there are concerns that an agreement will not be met any time soon.