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OUR VIEW: Glad to hear of progress in SDS talks

If there’s one phrase everyone in Troup County would love to stop hearing, it’s any words that have to do with COVID-19. That includes “social distancing,” “masks,” and “vaccines.”

We know COVID-19 fatigue is a real thing, and people are ready to hear about anything else.

And while we’re sure local officials are just as tired of COVID as the rest of us, we’re sure they are similarly tired of a three-word acronym most of the rest of us never knew existed until a few months ago.

Yes, for those of you keeping up, SDS, or Service Delivery Strategy, talks continue between West Point, Hogansville and Troup County.  (The portion where LaGrange negotiates seems to be done at this point, as the city and Troup County have agreed to terms that neither side expects to alter. However, the SDS agreement has still not been signed by all parties.)

For months, it felt like SDS discussions were like trying to run through a brick wall — there was a lot of talking but not a lot was getting done.

And then we entered a stage where it felt like nobody was talking — or at least that’s what we were told.

Mediation appeared to be the next step, and it felt like there was no alternative.

But something changed recently, as West Point, Troup County and Hogansville managed to get into a room together and start talking about the reasons no deal had been reached. When asked, most officials said they all just needed some time — an understandable break — to regroup and come back to the negotiating table.

As part of those talks, a planned mediation meeting for April 23 was postponed.

From what we understand, that doesn’t mean the mediation won’t happen, but more time has been allotted before the four entities agree to take that step.

When we talked to city and county officials for an updated story for the weekend, there was optimism from everyone involved. It was clear nobody wanted to say anything that might jeopardize a deal — plus attorneys are involved at this stage. But those conversations felt different.

We’re hopeful that all this gets worked out over the next few weeks and mediation can be avoided altogether.

As has been noted several times throughout this process, the people who know what’s best for Troup County, West Point, Hogansville and LaGrange are already in that room and part of the conversation. Most of them — county managers not included — were elected to represent us and to make tough decisions, such as this.

It’s also important to remember that in the best deals all sides typically come away feeling like they didn’t get enough and gave up more than they wanted. 

We’re glad to hear that things are moving in the right direction as the sides continue to discuss SDS. We hope to have more good news to report over the next few weeks.