ALBANY — The Albany City Commission voted at its regular meeting Tuesday night to amend the city's charter as reaffirmation that the Water, Gas & Light Commission is a department of the city and its general manager will be hired and fired by the city manager.
The vote, which came after a first reading and must be approved again at the next commission night meeting to become official, was 4-3 in favor of the measure and came after discussion that was heated at times.
"There's enough blame on this issue for everyone," Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said after comments by Commissioners Roger Marietta, Bob Langstaff, Tommie Postell and Ivey Hines. "I wasn't going to get into this, but the fact is y'all sat around and complained about this (in the past) and I listened, but we all sat and did nothing."
Langstaff used WG&L staff's refusal to buy radio equipment compatible with the city's as one of several examples why the utility should serve as a department of the city.
"If there is a tornado and power lines are down in Thomasville, Lee County or Crisp County, we'll know about it because they all located on our radio system," Langstaff said. "But first responders won't know about it here in Albany unless they get a phone call because WG&L is not on our radio system."
The commission voted to table zoning cases that would allowed developer Danny Blackshear to build single-family housing units, townhouses and apartment units at land on Old Dawson Road after a public hearing that lasted for more than two hours. Postell asked that the matter be tabled until more information is provided by the Planning Department.
"I don't want to be rushed, I don't want to be led and I don't want to be misled," Postell said.
The commission also voted 5-2 to allocate $500,000 in Housing and Urban Development HOME funding to the AME Bethel Housing CHODO that will be part of funding used to renovate a 98-unit apartment complex on Swift Street in East Albany.
Langstaff tried to table the matter, but his motion was voted down 5-2. He and Marietta voted against the funding.