ALBANY, Ga. -- As first reported at albanyherald.com, Albany's mayor pro tem says that he now believes the city should avoid a controversial deal with a local cable provider to accept a building downtown in lieu of payment on $139,000 in unpaid franchise fees.
Ward IV Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Roger Marietta stated in an e-mail to The Herald Friday that he believes the city should collect the money owed and pursue an alternative to using that site as a proposed health clinic for city employees.
"I have asked for another option prepared for discussion at the Feb. 15th work session," Marietta wrote in the e-mail. "After reflecting on the negative attention the city of Albany has received by even the possibility of entering into a 'deal' with Mediacom, I think we need to abandon that option. I propose that the city immediately collect the $139,000 that Mediacom owes us in unpaid franchise fees and interest. I suggest that Mediacom put the building at 509 Flint Ave (sic) up for sale or auction."
The city has been eyeing the building as a possible home to a health clinic it has billed as a mechanism to reduce long-term health costs it bears in covering its employees.
The commission will likely receive a briefing on the clinic and the staff's search for a place to house it at the Feb. 15 meeting.
Comments on the story at albanyherald.com were swift from the public.
"Thank you, Marietta, for listening to your constituents. Hopefully, the rest will follow your judgment," Guess44 wrote on the site.
Tami McCoy, a follower of the Albany Herald on Facebook, also said she appreciated Marietta's decision.
"Thanks Roger for listening to us little guys. We appreciate it very much for siding with the citizens on this deal," she wrote.
The property at 509 Flint Ave., which tax appraisals have put at $216,000 and which City Finance Director Kris Newton says Mediacom officials contend was given a real estate appraisal near $300,000, needs a new roof and additional maintenance, which is expected to cost the city or any other new owner more than $60,000 to repair.