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Hogansville feels good about SDS talks, but takes no action at council meeting

UPDATED: Hogansville has called a meeting to discuss SDS on Friday.

A Service Delivery Strategy agreement could be reached in the coming days, based on a statement made by Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz at Monday night’s city council meeting.

A proposed SDS document is being reviewed, but the Hogansville council took no action Monday, with Stankiewicz saying that their attorney needed to review the document before bringing it to the council for approval.

Stankiewicz said Hogansville proposed some changes to the county and under the new document, all of those changes were reflected.

“We presented those proposed changes to the county, and the county agreed to all of them. We are thankful for that and appreciate that, and we have the basis of an agreement,” Stankiewicz said. “However, the final language came through late this afternoon. It was sent to our attorneys and as one of the council members said, you wouldn’t buy a house without reading the closing documents, and so we are going to give our attorneys the opportunity to review those contracts.”

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.

The deadline for a SDS agreement is June 30, but it has to be submitted to the Department of Community Affairs, which requires a 30-day review process. An original deadline was set for the fall, but that was moved due to COVID-19. A second deadline was the end of February, but right at the last minute all four entities agreed to a SDS extension through June.

For the SDS agreement to pass, the county seat (LaGrange), the county and half the remaining cities (West Point or Hogansville) must agree.

The extension allowed local governments to avoid sanctions, which would impact state-funded grants, and allowed for more time to negotiate.

“We feel good about the prospects of being able to settle the SDS issues,” Stankiewicz said.

Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said Tuesday morning that he was expecting Hogansville to vote on the agreement Monday night.

“This is costing the citizens of our community well in excess of $100,000 in legal fees,” Crews said. “The process has been going on for 10 months. and it doesn’t feel we are any closer to having a deal before the deadline on June 1. If we don’t, then we will end up in court and that will be a terrible situation for the entire community.”

The county meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, but it was unclear if SDS would be discussed during that meeting.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hogansville announced a special called meeting for Friday to discuss SDS and the fire services agreement with the county.