Columbia County commissioners are set to meet with some of the area's legislative delegation members Monday in Atlanta to discuss a proposed incorporation and consolidation in Columbia County.
The gathering follows a Jan. 30 meeting in which commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a resolution that calls for the Georgia General Assembly to allow a referendum to occur on the consolidation issue.
Commissioners have said that, at the earliest, the issue could go before voters in one question in November. If the resolution is presented in the General Assembly and approved there, voters would be asked in a referendum if they approve of an incorporation of the Evans/Martinez area and then a consolidation of that entity with the county government.
"Our whole thing is, let the people decide,'' commission Chairman Ron Cross said after the Jan. 30 meeting.
Commissioners are set to be in Atlanta this week to attend a conference for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. While there, they plan to attend the meeting with the area delegation.
County officials have said Sen. Jim Whitehead, R-Evans, will be unable to meet Monday but would do so Tuesday.
Other delegation members - Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans; Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem; and Sue Burmeister, R-Augusta - have been invited to attend a meeting with commissioners at 10 a.m. Monday at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta. The meeting will be open to the public.
The resolution that will be presented at that time was approved Jan. 30 with only Commissioner Lee Anderson dissenting.
Commissioners in favor of a consolidation have said it would bring in $5 million a year in franchise fees for the county to use on infrastructure needs.
Commissioners say that without those franchise fees, voters could be asked to approve a bond that could come with a millage increase.
A consolidation, however, is something Columbia County's two cities, Harlem and Grovetown, have not been in favor of, saying, in part, that it could prevent their future growth through annexation.
In the draft resolution approved Jan. 30, there is a provision that under certain circumstances the cities of Harlem and Grovetown could petition the General Assembly to shift land out of the proposed consolidated government's boundaries and into the limits of either Harlem or Grovetown for three years.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.