ALBANY, Ga. -- Continuing a sometimes heated discussion that started at last week's work session, Dougherty County Commissioners OK'd recommendations from the county's Public Safety Committee Monday to give no further consideration to combining the Dougherty County Police Department with another law enforcement agency and that no consideration be given to replacing retired DCP Chief Don Cheek for at least six months.
Members of the Public Safety Committee said they made the recommendations to protect interim DCP Chief Jackie Battle as she takes over for Cheek, but one commissioner felt the committee had left Battle at a disadvantage.
"Like I noted (last week), I have misgivings about this entire process," District 2 Commissioner John Hayes said. "(Battle's promotion) seems like a natural transition to me, and to limit her to a six-month (interim period) instead of a year contract .... Well, I wish you had handled that differently."
Despite Public Safety Committee Chairman Muarlean Edwards' assurances that the intent of the group was to "do this the right way," Hayes said the committee's recommendations handicap Battle.
"All things aren't equal here; you're taking an experienced person and boxing her into a six-month period to do a job, but your not equipping her to do the same job as her predecessor," Hayes said. "I'm not trying to be argumentative, but it seems like you're limiting (Battle) to a six-month job. I just want to see fairness take place."
District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines said the recommendation by the Public Safety Committee follows common business practice.
"This gives us an opportunity to see (Battle) in that role, and it gives her an opportunity to decide if it's what she wants," Gaines said. "I don't see any doubts (in the committee) whatsoever. I'd like to ask Commissioner Hayes if he has a specific alternate proposal."
The commission finally approved the recommendations and quickly moved through previously discussed agenda items such as revising rules and regulations for county-owned Riverfront Park to parallel city rules for adjacent Ray Charles Plaza, approving renewal of alcohol licenses in the county, approving $20,170.36 in Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax VI funds for the purchase of carpet in the district attorney's office, and allowing a rezoning request by District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone on 3 acres of land on Stone's property.
Stone asked that the land be rezoned mobile home single-family (R-MHS) from agriculture so that he could locate a mobile home on the property. Stone told commissioners the county's Planning Commission should look into requirements that no less than 3 acres can be rezoned.
"We only wanted to rezone an acre and a half, but the county's zoning ordinance says you must have at least 3 acres," he said. "We need to look at that."
The commission also agreed to enter into a shared-cost agreement with Southern Ag Carriers Inc. and to request that the city of Albany extend its sewer system 2,012 feet on Sylvester Road to meet the needs of Southern Ag Carriers. The estimated cost for the extension is $160,000, and the county would finance its share using SPLOST III and V sewer extension funds.
County Attorney Spencer Lee told the commission it must approve an intergovernmental agreement with the city and approve resolutions during a special called meeting Monday if it intends to collect a 2 percent excise tax on energy used by businesses and industries in the county.