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Muggridge: Lee board chose to do right thing

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Lee County Commissioner Rick Muggridge didn't want anyone doubting where he stood on the issue of placing garbage fees on tax bills in the county.

So he took a little time to make that point at the commission's July business meeting Tuesday night.

"As everyone here knows, I was absent from our last meeting and I missed the presentation by (Lee County Board of Tax Assessors chairman) W.F. Griffin," Muggridge said. "I was traveling that night. I've since talked with Mr. Griffin, and I want to say how much I appreciate all he has to say.

"But I wanted to take a minute tonight to go on the record in support of the ordinance to place the garbage fees in the county on our tax bills.

And I wanted to say how proud I am of my peers on this board for taking a stand when the easiest thing to do would have been nothing. They chose to do the right thing."

Muggridge was not at the July 12 commission meeting at which Griffin spoke in support of Tax Commissioner Susan Smith's decision to take the county to court rather than comply with an ordinance that commissioners say will help cut down on unpaid garbage fees that surpass $400,000 yearly.

The four commissioners present at that meeting -- Dennis Roland, Betty Johnson, Bill Williams and Ed Duffy -- presented a unified front, offering comments that indicated their resolve.

Tuesday was the deadline for County Attorney Jimmy Skipper to respond to briefs submitted by Smith's attorney, Jerome Adams of Douglas, who had recently submitted his own response to briefs prepared by Skipper on behalf of the county. Southwest Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge James Sizemore will decide, after going over all briefs, whether to hear more testimony or to use the briefs as basis for a decision in the case.

Smith has said she will appeal the Superior Court ruling to the state Supreme Court if it goes against her.

"As a member of this board, I do consider what my peers do," Muggridge said Tuesday. "We all come from different backgrounds and circumstances, and the fact that all five of us have come to the same conclusion about this issue heartens me that we're doing the right thing for the county."

In other action at the brief meeting, the commission approved a county redistricting map proposal that will now be submitted to the state Legislature for consideration. The Legislature will be called to Atlanta for a special redistricting session Aug. 15.

Commissioners also voted to table an easement request from the city of Leesburg until all information about the request is presented to the commission and OK'd a resolution authorizing an agreement with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for a hazardous waste trust fund reimbursement in the amount of $14,439.

The board also approved partial funding of a summer recreation program for the city of Smithville, which will be held next week.