Cities pick mediation attorney

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On Monday, the cities of Hogansville and West Point officially selected Smith Welsh Webb and White as the law firm to represent their cities in upcoming mediation regarding Troup County’s Service Delivery Strategy agreement.

According to Alex Dixon, who represents both cities as attorney, Andrew Welch will be the attorney for both West Point and Hogansville during mediation. 

County Manager Eric Mosley said Tuesday that the four entities have not gained traction toward mediation. Mosley said the next step would be for the cities and county to agree on how to divvy up the costs on a mediator, as well as the selection of a mediator.

West Point and Hogansville originally asked to go to mediation on Jan. 28 in a letter written to Mosley.

The county agreed to work toward mediation at last week’s commission meeting.

However, much has changed since the original mediation request.

Hogansville’s city council agreed to pass the currently proposed SDS agreement on Feb. 16, but Mayor Bill Stankiewicz was only authorized to sign the agreement if all four entities agreed. Stankiewicz then vetoed the proposal, noting that it wasn’t in the best interest of the citizens of Hogansville.

Troup County and LaGrange have since passed the proposed SDS agreement.

West Point has not taken an official vote with Mayor Steve Tramell and the city council continuing to ask for mediation. For the SDS agreement to pass, the largest city (LaGrange), the county and half the remaining cities (West Point or Hogansville) must agree.

The SDS is required every 10 years in all 159 counties and is meant to ensure delivery of services to citizens in a cost-efficient and effective manner.

Just two days before the Feb. 28 deadline for a SDS agreement, all four entities signed an extension of the current SDS that will last through June, but the clock starts again, as they’ve grown no closer to an agreement over the last few weeks. The Department of Community Affairs also requires 30 days to review any agreed upon SDS agreement.

Without a SDS agreement in place by the end of June, sanctions will be implemented that include the loss of state-funded grants.

Troup County has also sent notice to Hogansville that it was terminating its intergovernmental agreement regarding fire services. The notice required 90 days and was sent on March 1.

If the SDS is signed before the fire services agreement expires, which is May 30, then the intergovernmental agreement will continue. If not, Hogansville will have to have another option in place to provide fire services to citizens. City leaders said they are exploring their options and that there will be fire services in place if the agreement lapses.