OUR VIEW: Communication remains key in SDS talks

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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If you’re dizzy from hearing about the Service Delivery Strategy talks between the cities of West Point and Hogansville and Troup County, then you aren’t the only one. It’s a lot to keep up with for the people involved, so, of course, it’s tough for the everyday citizen to stay up to date.

But, if you missed it, a significant moment seemed to occur last week, when the county agreed to withdraw its 90-day notice to end the fire services with Hogansville. As a refresher, at the start of March, Troup County sent Hogansville notice that after a required 90 days, it would no longer provide fire services within Hogansville’s city limits, unless a SDS agreement was signed during that time.

The county argued that without a new, signed SDS agreement it couldn’t be assured that it would have the funding to provide fire services to Hogansville. Hogansville was caught by surprise and went scrambling, working to find a solution if the agreement lapsed.

But last week, the county reversed the decision after the two sides (and West Point) had a successful meeting.

It’s great to see the sides are communicating and working together to try to come up with an agreement. However, it was a little alarming to hear the confusion over Hogansville’s future plans for fire services. The county spent a portion of its meeting talking about Hogansville wanting to start its own fire department. Ten minutes after the meeting, Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz told us that was never the plan.

With that in mind, we think it’s fair to say that communication remains an issue. After all, if we can find out if Hogansville plans to start its own fire department with a quick phone call, we’d assume county leaders could do the same, or vice versa.

All of the fire services talks work into the overall SDS discussion. SDS is a 10-year agreement that’s required in all 159 Georgia counties and ensures the delivery of services to citizens in an effective and cost-effective manner.

For a new SDS agreement pass, LaGrange, Troup County and either Hogansville or West Point (or both) have to agree on a proposal. 

The current SDS, which has been extended, runs out at the end of June, so the clock is ticking. Not having a signed SDS by that deadline means sanctions, which would impact grant funding.

Obviously, all sides are hopeful that doesn’t end up being the case.

We’re glad that Hogansville citizens can rest easy knowing that there’s currently a plan in place for fire services. 

And we’re glad that discussions have started back up again and continue.