County to consider a lake authority

Grady County commissioners appear to be moving toward creating an authority to govern the Tired Creek lake project.
Tuesday night Commissioner T.D. David made a plea for commissioners to consider taking the necessary action to create a lake authority. Such an authority could be created by local legislation that must be approved by the Georgia General Assembly.
“This is quite a project. At the very least it is a $15 million project and it bears babysitting at every juncture,” Commissioner David said Tuesday night.
“At this point we must realize we alone can’t do this,” he added and urged the board to consider selecting members of the community with various expertise to serve on the lake authority.
He said his intention is not to create a board of figure heads, but to create an authority that will make decisions and report back to the board. David made it clear he did not see the authority coming back to the board to report on every decision, however.
Commissioner David said he invisions an authority that can spearhead the entire project, but he still expects the board of commissioners to have control over the project.
David had written commissioners last October encouraging the board to put a body in place to manage the project. Since that time Wood & Partners, a Tallahassee land planning and landscape architectural firm, has been contracted to manage the project and make budget projections.
In his most recent memo to the board David wrote, “This county is rich in talent that we must tap in order to have the most capable members on the team.”
He suggested appointing authority members with backgrounds in banking, Department of Natural Resources, real estate, farming, accounting, investments, hunting, fishing, health & sanitation, engineering, and surveying.
Although David was advocating Tuesday night that work begin on the process of establishing an authority, he admitted it could be a year before it is actually functioning.
“It will take us a couple of months just to put some names together and then several more months to get those people oriented and bring them up-to-date on the project,” David said.
Grady County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley said it would take action by the General Assembly on local legislation unanimously supported by the board of commissioners to create a lake authority.
Attorney Cauley said that he would like to have the proposed legislation in the hands of the local legislative delegation by January.
Cauley also requested the authority to meet with and discuss the proposed new lake authority with Savannah attorney Jonathan Pannell, who was instrumental in creating several authorities in Georgia including the South Georgia Governmental Services Authority.
Vice Chairman Billy Poitevint said he was not opposed to creating an authority but he advocated keeping the size of it to a manageable number.
“In my dealings with boards the more members you have the more confusion and less actually gets done,” Poitevint said.
Commissioner Charles Norton noted that the authority members would not answer to the public, but the commission would be held accountable.
Cauley said the authority would answer to the public through the board of commissioners, which appoints each member of the authority.
Commission Chairman Elwyn Childs voiced his support for the authority model and Commissioner Al Ball agreed that it should be considered.
Cauley pointed out that at some point a decision was made that economic development was a priority and so an authority was created to coordinate the economic development efforts. “The county has never undertaken a project of this size before and, in my opinion, it warrants an authority,” Cauley said.
The consensus of the board is for Cauley to draft proposed local legislation and framework of a lake authority and to schedule a work session in approximately a month to hash out the details with the board.

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