Mediation logical next step

Published 9:00 am Saturday, March 6, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

We were glad to hear earlier this week that mediation appears to be imminent in the ongoing Service Delivery Strategy delivery discussions between LaGrange, Troup County, Hogansville and West Point.

These SDS stories and editorials tend to get lengthy, but in this space we’re going to be short-winded. If you’ve been sleeping under a rock — or just ignoring the ongoing SDS discussions — then we’ve written on it a bunch over the last month. But we will warn you, if you’re playing catch-up, give yourself some time as the reading material is long.

West Point has been asking for mediation for weeks, and so did Hogansville before agreeing, then taking a mulligan on agreeing.

And although we agree with County Attorney Jerry Willis, who has probably been the most vocal about the local leaders making this decision, we’re also realistic. Last week we wrote that local leaders should essentially lock themselves into a room, lay all their cards on the table and figure this out.

But as we acknowledged then, that’s oversimplifying a really complicated problem — one that eight months and a lot of meetings hasn’t settled. Willis specifically noted that it’s typically best when the attorneys don’t get involved, but we’ve been to that point for a while now.

West Point wants another voice in discussions, someone from outside Troup County who can hear its argument on being double taxed.

Hogansville wants West Point on board before signing, and due to the law, that creates an impasse.

Even though LaGrange and Troup County have passed the SDS proposal on the table, it can’t be approved unless Hogansville or West Point pass it as well.

An agreement was just signed Friday to extend the deadline through June, but the Department of Community Affairs requires 30 days to review all passed agreements. There are less than 120 days remaining until June 30, and if you take another 30 days away, we’re already below three months to negotiate.

Hopefully with more time — and an outside ear — our local leaders can figure this thing out.