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City to WG&L: No cleanup money

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission effectively drew a line in the sand in its ongoing power struggle with the city's Water, Gas & Light Commission Tuesday, refusing to contribute requested funding in the initial phase of the cleanup of an environmental hazard site.

Commissioners voted to approve a requested $1.025 million amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 budget -- minus "the first bullet point of the request."

That bullet point in question called for $375,000 in funding, about half of the expected cost of the initial phase of an Environmental Protection Division-ordered cleanup of a former manufactured gas plant at 900 Front St. Commissioners then instructed City Attorney Nathan Davis to put their reply in the form of an ordinance.

Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff instructed Davis to word the ordinance so that WG&L officials would understand that "they need to fund the initial phase of the Corrective Action Plan" approved by EDP.

"It seems like we're going through the same gig where WG&L is telling us what to do," Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell said. "I think they can find that money on their own."

WG&L General Manager Lem Edwards was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Taylor drew vehement protest from the board when he told its members he had no authority to tell WG&L how the cleanup, expected to cost between $5 million and $10 million, should be funded.

"We gave you that authority," Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said, and Taylor sent staff to retrieve a copy of an ordinance whose wording he said gave him the authority to "find the funding for the cleanup."

"If you want me to do more, you need to tell me," Taylor said.

WG&L had asked the city to share a one-third cost of the initial stage of the cleanup, which will include exploratory digging at the site. The utility had planned to pay a one-third share, with the other third coming from insurance.

"They asked, and you agreed," Taylor said.

Commissioners said their intent was to have Taylor, not WG&L, in charge of the cleanup, including finding funding sources. Langstaff suggested waiting until a report is available on a study conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government of the relationship between the city and WG&L.

"This kind of thing disturbs me about our relationship (with WG&L)," Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines said. He then asked Taylor: "Did you go to the (cleanup) bid conference?" The city manager said, "No."

"Did your designee attend?" Hines asked. Again Taylor said, "No."

Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta then offered a motion to approve the budget amendment "with a stipulation that the city manager have final authority on the gas plant cleanup." His motion died for lack of a second, and Pike followed with his motion to approve the budget amendment with the exception of the WG&L funding.

The commission also approved $100,000 in HOME funding to go to Flint River Habitat Humanity so that the organization can build two single-family, handicap-accessible homes on property at Rosebriar Avenue for income-eligible applicants.

The commission was to have held an alcohol license renewal hearing with officials of Legends Lounge, but the establishment's attorney had a scheduling conflict. That hearing was resecheduled for Jan. 29. Hearings for Big Daddy's Lounge and the Sandtrap nightclub will be held today.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

Fine you bunch of bumpkins, just return the 30 million dollars you stole from the WG&L customers' MEAG account. You're nothing but a bunch of slush fund addicts. You can't even remember from one meeting to the next the decisions you've made. I suggest you get a spiral bound notebook and make some notes.

"WG&L had asked the city to share a one-third cost of the initial stage of the cleanup . . . The utility had planned to pay a one-third share, with the other third coming from insurance."

"They asked, and you agreed," Taylor said.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

WOW now my wallet is safe and secure and I have piece of mind. "This kind of thing disturbs me about our relationship (with WG&L)," Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines said. Hines how about your relationship with Pike. Hmm ok to steal from the city and that does not disturb you or the other commissioners! Now it makes sense why you’ll think you are entitled to remove money from WG&L (MEAG). Birds of a feather!!!!!! Sure looks like WG&L is just asking for money that really belongs to us to start with. Yep you’ll should put Pike in charge of all Finances.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

This goes deeper, my friend. The City wants full control of WG&L and with Edwards retiring it will be less of a fight with WG&L for the city to take control. The commission is a bunch of arrogant POS. So tired of them but they have the system rigged to get what they want. It is their fault this city is in shambles with no hope and people fleeing by the 100's to other towns. Trust me, if I could flee to I would in a heartbeat.

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

"Langstaff suggested waiting until a report is available on a study conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government of the relationship between the city and WG&L."

I think the relationship between the two is incestual and no report is needed. Are we paying for this study and report?

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

Yes you are paying for it..They are trying to find away to take over WG&L because WG&L makes a profit and the "God Fathers" have to sieze more monry to feed they spending habits.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

I read your above post before this one so excuse my above comment because you have nailed it.

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dickyboy 1 year, 7 months ago

If I would be starting a career it would be in consulting...Damn how much has Albany spent on consulting fees over the past few years? Are these people too stupid to figure it out themselves without having people come in to tell how to do it? Got to be kick backs involved...

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

We've elected a commission of dweebs and rogues. The Commission is actually trying to develop, through the respectable Vinson Institute, a case for what they have already determined. To dismantle WG&L as an authority and take the operational proceeds and spend it on political projects such as building downtown, Cutliff Grove real estate, consultants, Tee1 Golf, etc. etc. When that happens the utility infra-structure will be decimated. Let's understand what they are doing. When Carol Fullerton was eliminated from the WG&L board because she was too respected at the Capitol by both Dems and ruling Republicans, the Commission fired their first shot. (In fact, Willie Adams tried unsuccessfully to have Fullerton removed from the board prior to her term's expiration.) Unfortunately/fortunately, they tipped their hand. The commission is after WG&L's money and that means poorer utility services and higher taxes. This is all about money, the taxpayers and WG&L customers, don't be fooled.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 7 months ago

But you can come up with the money to flush it out in downtown Albany. You had better tighten your belts because taxes are not going to do up. It is not just the economy that is sending folks to Lee Co. and Worth Co to buy homes. It is the taxes and nothing to see how it is being used. You are allowing Phoebe to buy doctors out and no taxes paid on their offices, you continuously build low income homes. On and on. Now you want to put some bars out of businesses because to too many calls. At least the pay taxes on several ends. That is a no brainer. Keep the bars open for you are going to need their revenue. The cops are going to be paid regardless if the bars are open or closed.

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Environmentalist 1 year, 7 months ago

Carlton, Part of this story needs to be; what was / is Manufactured Gas ? ?

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Coal gas. Coal oil. You could burn coal oil in a cheap space heater to heat your house. The solid residue is what they are talking about. Unless other chemicals were dumped over the years it is a simple cheap cleanup...land farming it. $10 million is highway robbery, but enough funds left for redistribution.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

I spoke with a friend who is an engineer and manager with a utility company in a SO GA town and he said the same thing essentially. His response was "what else was there? EPA should know if they are threatening fines." So that is a good question what is there?

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

I am an engineer, retired, and I did a land farming project where petroleum sludge was the problem. This is not a big deal. When you have charlatans dealing with non-technical people, you can pull off a big score.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

Red, it reminds me of the old saying that in the valley of the blind the one eyed man is king.

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, lets see now, you feed a Hog Cooked Pinto Beans, sorry wrong gas manufacture concept. Bottom line, when do the fines kick in and how much are they? Are the Commissioners willing to pay the fines out of their pockets?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

"Are the Commissioners willing to pay the fines out of their pockets?" No, they intend to pay it out of our pockets.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

I think it is high time the rest of the tax base leave this crumbling town (citizens and businesses) Let the commission squander in what they have created and see how long Albany survives. LOL

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jglass 1 year, 7 months ago

You know, people do not realize the money that WG&L gives the City to keep it afloat ANNUALLY. The city wants to take over WG&L so bad and with Mr. Edwards retiring soon, they will try even harder. If the city is successful in taking over WG&L, Albany will be in the WORST financial mess ever. The city DOES NOT know how to manage money. Postell and Pike the two of you need to take a HIKE!!!!!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

Postell, Piker, Hines, Langstaff and Milquetoast Marietta are all a- - hole buddies on the dismantling of WG&L. We should form a committee and get Lem Edwards to run for mayor.

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Cartman 1 year, 7 months ago

Well. I guess Mr. Edwards let the commission know what he thought of their decision. I wish he would stay and the commission would go away.

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LoneCycler 1 year, 7 months ago

I feel bad for the City Manager Mr. James Taylor. He has to deal with this sorry crew of commissioners on issues that greatly affect citizens every day, and all he sees them do is agitate for the increase of their own power or to sow division among city departments and revisit old grudges when they don't get their way. The commissioners clearly agreed to fund 1/3 of the exploratory digging at the old gas plant. The city has to find out how much more work will be needed for clean up or the federal government will levy hundreds of thousands in fines if this process is not started soon. The commissioners are claiming they did otherwise, probably because Postell didn't get an answer back from the DA about the police captain or because he's still upset managers at WG&L get a company car and he doesn't. It must be like dealing with a bunch of spoiled little girls arguing over who gets the plastic shovel in a sandbox at these meetings. I would not have the patience Mr. Taylor demonstrates. This man is a valued asset for our City and his skills are priceless.

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