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Hogansville passes new SDS proposal

Hogansville signed a proposed Service Delivery Strategy agreement on Friday, but several changes were made from the document Troup County approved earlier in the week, meaning there was technically no traction toward a resolution in discussions that have now continued for 10 months.

Hogansville signing appeared to be a significant step, especially after the county had signed a SDS proposal on Tuesday. However, County Attorney Jerry Willis clarified Friday afternoon that Hogansville signed what their attorneys prepared, not the documents provided or agreed to by the county and several changes were made.

Therefore, Troup County has to completely review the documents again and will discuss them at a special called meeting on Monday.

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

The deadline for an 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 extend the previous SDS through June.

The extension passed in February allowed local governments to avoid sanctions, which would impact state-funded grants, and allowed for more time to negotiate. However, if the June deadline comes and goes, sanctions would again be on the table.

For the last few months, negotiations have been down to Troup County and the cities of Hogansville and West Point, as LaGrange and the county agreed to terms in February and even passed proposals at that time. However, the last few weeks have seen negotiations focus on the county and Hogansville.

“It feels good [to sign it], but the proof is in the pudding, and I’ll feel better on Tuesday,” Stankiewicz said after Hogansville signed the agreement it proposed on Friday.

The largest sticking point between Hogansville and Troup County continues to be based around fire services.

It appears both agreements — the one approved by the county Tuesday, and the one Hogansville passed Friday — extend the fire services agreement to five years between the parties. They also extend the amount of time required to break the agreement from 90 days to one year. A document received Wednesday by The LaGrange Daily News via an open records request to Troup County showed the agreement lasting through Dec. 31, 2026. The agreement would then auto renew each following year on Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2030.

Stankiewicz said a change made since the county approved its proposal on Tuesday involved a provision in the fire services agreement. The provision in the county’s document states that any time the SDS is renegotiated, which can happen at any time, then the fire services agreement could be renegotiated as well.

Hogansville’s proposal says that the fire services agreement can only be renegotiated if Hogansville asks for renegotiation of SDS. Crews said Friday afternoon that the county had been unaware that Hogansville was altering that portion of the agreement.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said the city was reviewing Hogansville’s proposal after receiving it Friday afternoon.

“Assuming that nothing has changed to any of the other provisions of SDS, I would anticipate the council would approve it just like we did in February,” Thornton said.

Thornton said Friday afternoon that he’s hopeful that SDS is wrapped up next week, but noted that City Attorney Jeff Todd was still reviewing it and the city council would still have to vote to approve it.

“I am hopeful that we will have a service delivery agreement signed off by three [parties], with the three required signatures by next week, and we’ll be able to submit that to DCA and stay in compliance,” Thornton said.

West Point Mayor Steve Tramell said he’s waiting to see if the county is going to sign the proposal Hogansville passed on Friday.