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December 3, 2013

Discussion over DDA turns dark for City Council, mayor

TIFTON —

A discussion about the structure of the Downtown Development Authority resulted in a heated debate between council members at Monday’s regular City Council meeting.

As the meeting was coming to a close, City Clerk Rona Martin went over the board report concerning appointments and reappointments. When discussing the DDA, Councilwoman Julie Smith noted a state expert informed them recently that the city’s structure of the DDA, relating to state law, isn’t appropriate.

Her question to fellow council members and City Attorney Rob Wilmot was: “Our boundaries aren’t correct, so how can we appoint members?” She recommended they keep the current members in place until a restructuring of the board is complete. She urged they fix what’s broken by drawing proper boundaries in the downtown area.

“It’s the boundaries of what’s downtown,” Smith said.

She also asked about the requirements of serving on the DDA board. Martin mentioned another similar board, and when explaining the two, she said members can be a city resident or have a business downtown. She noted that all of the citizens who submitted an application to serve on the DDA board are city residents.

Wilmot told the council it’s in their hands to define downtown’s geographical area. 

He later noted there is a defined geographical area (city limits to city limits), but it may not be appropriate, according to what Smith explained.

Smith stressed again that they need to address the issue and that several other surrounding cities have become Main Street communities, which will pull from Tifton's tourism. She said she wants Tifton’s downtown area to be the best that it can be.

Councilman Chris Parrott agreed they should address the structure of the DDA board and clean it up but disagreed with delaying reappointments. He said they need to go ahead and look at appointing members and then go from there.

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