Service delivery negotiations at a standstill - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Service delivery negotiations at a standstill

The service delivery battle between Valdosta and Lowndes County continues. (Source: WALB) The service delivery battle between Valdosta and Lowndes County continues. (Source: WALB)
Water and sewer services remain the main point in the SDS negotiations. (Source: WALB) Water and sewer services remain the main point in the SDS negotiations. (Source: WALB)
Valdosta Mayor John Gayle (Source: WALB) Valdosta Mayor John Gayle (Source: WALB)
Lowndes County Commissioner Clay Griner (Source: WALB) Lowndes County Commissioner Clay Griner (Source: WALB)
LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) -

The service delivery battle between Valdosta and Lowndes County continues.

The City rejected the County's latest proposal and, a month after the deadline, the governments still can't reach a deal.

It's a battle that's been going on since May with no end in sight. 

One issue stands in the way of a compromise between Valdosta and Lowndes County leaders on the service delivery strategy, or SDS. 

"The one thing we don't feel like we can give in on is the water and sewer," urged Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, "We've got to look at the city 10 years from now." 

Neither side wants to budge on its stance. 

Currently, the City is able to extend services into county territory. However, city officials said the process takes months and sometimes potential businesses go elsewhere.

"Through the process of asking for permission and delaying, and delaying, and the customer getting aggravated and leaving," explained Mayor Gayle.

County officials contend they came up with a plan to fix that issue.  County officials said they would get 30 days to respond to a request. If they don't respond within  those 30 days the request would automatically be approved. 

"The time line thing has been taken care of. It's not an issue of Lowndes County being able to push it back and push it back on an agenda. It's plenty of time for us to get done what needs to be done for any companies coming to town," said Lowndes County Commissioner Clay Griner.

The deadline for a revised SDS agreement was October 31. 

Right now, no local governments in the county can apply for any state funding until a new deal is in place.

The City asked the County to sign an extension for the current SDS, but the County said no. 

"We feel like we do still qualify. Our position on that has not changed either," explained Commissioner Griner.

County officials are talking with the Department of Community Affairs for clarification about whether the local governments can get state funding. 

These issues could land in court if officials can't reach an agreement. 

"We feel like if we have to go to court then we're prepared to do that," said Mayor Gayle.

Valdosta officials planned to meet with leaders of the other cities in Lowndes County Thursday to talk about what steps to take next.

Copyright 2016 WALB. All rights reserved.

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