'Challenging year' ahead for local government, says lobbyist

ALBANY, Ga. -- The lobbying group hired by the city told commissioners Tuesday that, despite pledges made by the new Republican leadership in the House, they're optimistic about city projects.

Marilyn Berry Thompson and F. Marion Turner from the MWW Group -- a New Jersey-based lobbying firm -- gave their assessment of the challenges and opportunities that will follow the change in leadership in Washington Tuesday.

The commission will shape its legislative agenda in early January and decide what projects they intend to seek federal and state funding for.

According to Thompson, the future of those projects will likely be shaped by decisions made as early as today in Washington, as Congress trudges through what is shaping up to be a tumultuous transition as the Democrats pass the gavel to Republicans in the House of Representatives.

"Well, there is a lot of discussion going on right now about spending and what will get cut, or what won't get cut," Thompson told commissioners. "There are several options on the table that are being worked through."

According to Thompson, Congress is currently bound under a continuing resolution that bars earmarks and freezes all growth and spending at current levels. That resolution will expire Dec. 18 at which point one of three things will happen.

House Democrats, she says, are pushing for continuation of the continuing resolution for the next year. House Republicans, however, want to break apart the entire budget and roll spending back to 2007 levels, slashing $100 billion in the process.

The third option is the most likely, she said, and involves continuing the continual resolution through the House only to have the Senate substitute the bill for an omnibus spending package that would allow for earmarks.

Currently the city has a $1 million appropriation that is a part of the transportation bill and another $700,000 that is slated to fund part of the construction of the Holloway Basin.

Thompson said that while it will likely be a "challenging year," to get projects funded when Republicans take over, that because Governor-elect Nathan Deal was close friends with Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson when they all served together, Georgia will likely get a fair share of earmarks and project funding.

Following the presentation and later in the meeting, the commission tentatively voted to renew its contract with MWW for $90,000, the same price as last year.

See Thompson give her presentation here