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City and county head to retreats to set priorities

ALBANY -- The leaders of both Albany and Dougherty County are set to head to Crisp County for their annual retreats, officials say.

The City Commission will be the first to go, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said. Its two-day retreat is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Resort at Lake Blackshear.

The County Commission will take its one-day retreat to the resort 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 11.

An annual occurrence, the retreats provide what Smith said is a "distraction-free" atmosphere that allows the city commissioners to focus on setting policy goals and planning their priorities for the remainder of the year.

"The commission is in a much better position to be more candid and more open than they would at a regular commission meeting," Smith said.

But the retreats aren't without their controversy. Opponents of the events say they are a waste of taxpayer dollars when, at the very least, the same meetings could be held at an Albany venue in the full view of the public.

Smith said that the money spent for the retreat is a cheap price to ensure that the commission has the focus it needs to plan for the future.

"Frankly, the $3,000 to $4,000 is rather insignificant compared to the importance of planning a new year in the best way possible," he said.

In discussing its retreat, the Dougherty County Commission discussed whether it would be prudent to stay inside Dougherty County given the current state of the economy.

Recommendations were made to consider using facilities at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany or other local venues, but at the end of the day, the county went with the resort, which is located at the

Georgia Veteran's Park outside of Cordele.