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City manager OK'd to manage gas plant cleanup

ALBANY, Ga. — Despite spirited debate on the matter at a prebriefing and Commissioner Tommie Postell’s declaration that he would push to table a vote that would extend Medicare B reimbursements given post-65 city of Albany retirees, the Albany City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to continue the $96.40 monthly payments, which City Manager James Taylor said set the city budget back more than $400,000 a year.

The commission also approved an option that will require retirees to prove, by Dec. 31, they are eligible to receive the Medicare B reimbursements. Taylor had recommended doing away with the reimbursements altogether.

“The budget issue is not going away, but we didn’t feel we could deny our retirees these funds they’ve been receiving as part of their retirement,” Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said Wednesday. “We are going to have to make cuts, but we had to do right by the people who have given so much to the city.”

Taylor said Wednesday he will continue to bring cost-cutting options to the commission.

“I have one client: the city of Albany,” he said. “I have to do what’s best for all of the city’s residents. My job is to bring options to the commission. I don’t take (the vote) personally, but at some point we’re going to have to bite the big bullet and make some tough choices.”

Also at the meeting, the commission approved a resolution that would authorize the city manager to develop a written plan and use all city assets — including Water, Gas & Light Commission funds — to manage a hazardous waste cleanup site at a former manufactured gas plant site at 900 Front Street.

The cleanup is projected to cost the city between $3 million and $9 million.

“(WG&L General Manager) Lem (Edwards) and I talked last week, and he’s ready to go with this,” Taylor said. “We wanted to get past this vote, make sure everything was in place, then we’ll move forward. The one order we have is to begin assessment (of the site) by March.”

Commissioners also approved a $185,000 settlement payment to now former Albany Fire Department employee Roderick Jolivette, who had three lawsuits and an EEOC claim pending against the city. Jolivette agreed to drop the suits and resign from his position with the city, although he will be paid pension up to the time that he would normally have retired.

Commissioners also approved its Long-Term Financial Planning Committee’s recommendation that a one-third share of Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia credits, which could amount to between $20 million and $30 million by 2017, be used to spur economic development in the city and county. The LTFPC will work with the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission to determine standards of qualification for the funds, which will include number and/or types of jobs and financial investment.

The city also voted to move its night meetings to 6:30 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. starting Nov. 27.

Comments

Amazed2 1 year, 9 months ago

Mr. Taylor in my opinion is the best we have had as City Manager in a long time. He seems to be honest and straight forward. Problem he has to deal with on most issues is City Commission. He comes up with plans to solve budgets and the commissioners and Mayor Dorothy shoot him down. Cutting cost especially when they have been out of control for so long is never easy and it takes courage. Stick with it Mr Taylor the commissioners and Mayor will have a day if reconning when all the cookie jar reserves are gone.

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B4it 1 year, 9 months ago

They also need to grant Mr. Taylor the rights to clean up the frequent nausiating gas from Commissioner Postell.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

Postellgaz is much too toxic.

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dingleberry 1 year, 9 months ago

Amazed2 is correct in the above post. Taylor is trying to do a good job despite the Commission wanting to do what is politically expedient. We hear much about deficits and out of control spending at all levels of government but politicians and citizens seem unwilling to make or accept necessary cuts "in their back yard". The fight over library closures, which to my surprise has held up so far, and closing the downtown post office are two good examples. When it ain't working out, it needs to go--or shut up and be prepared to pay the price.

Albany has done a great job of emptying the cookie jar and the next few years and beyond are not going to be pretty. Jim Taylor is the only politician who seems to understand the revenue stream has dried up. And you folks who pay property tax had better get ready for a raid on the chastity belt--city and county governments and the BOE are holding the key.

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