TIFTON — The Tift County Commission discussed service delivery compromises at the Sept. 8 work session.
County Manager Jim Carter presented a letter he had drawn up from the board to the Tifton City Council detailing service delivery proposals for 10 services the city and county have been unable to reach an agreement.
Service delivery strategies are required by the Department of Community Affairs and cities and counties are penalized if they are not able to submit a SDS to the DCA within a certain time limit.
The city and county governments have been discussing the SDS since 2017 and have not been able to come to an agreement.
The letter proposes the county would provide several services funded out of the general fund, including EMS, animal control and non-emergency E-911 dispatch.
The public library would continue being funded jointly, road construction and maintenance would remain the same as the current SDS agreement and the city would be able to contract with the Tift County tax collector, the Tift County Board of Elections and the Tift County Sheriff’s Office for municipal tax collection, elections and inmate housing.
The major difference, according to Carter, would be with the recreation department. He said the city and county have met with the Tiftarea YMCA to contract it in providing county-wide recreation services.
Carter said with the population of Tift County, it would not be a good move to split recreation, and he hopes, whether the partnership with the YMCA goes through or not, recreation does not split.
The proposal addresses the pending litigation between city and county about the water/wastewater system. The litigation was filed in 2019 and asks for a judge to decide who owns what part of the system.
Carter said the proposal stipulates a judge's verdict would update the SDS and the city and county would dismiss any claims other than the ones strictly regarding the water/wastewater system.
The board discussed the possibility of requiring masks in county buildings.
Carter said a county-wide mask mandate would be impossible to enforce, a mask requirement for county buildings would be doable.
Commissioner Paul Webb said he would not support a mandate of any kind.
Commissioners Melissa Hughes and Buck Rigdon said they support requiring masks for county buildings. Hughes said it is a protective measure, no different than requiring people to wear seatbelts, and Rigdon said “it’s a simple, easy thing to do to protect people during the worst health crisis in over a century.”
The board is expected to discuss requiring masks at the Sept. 14 meeting, which will begin 6 p.m., at the Charles Kent Administration Building.