‘A shame’

Council flunks good opportunity to work with development district
Rockdale voters went through some complicated times last year fine tuning the creation, and funding, of a much-needed municipal development district (MDD).

Looks like somebody forgot to fine tune the Rockdale City Council.

Last week a motion to extend city water, and eventually sewer lines to the new Associated Training Services facility, a project to be funded through the MDD, was presented to the city council but died for lack of a second.

A stunned Mayor Larry Jones called the non-action “a shame,” then provided some perspective. “We’re going to send a message to anyone who wants to come here that this city is not going to help them,” he said.

Indeed. No real reason was given for any of the other four present council members’ failure to second Councilwoman Gerri Offield’s motion.

One council member raised a question about the lease agreement between the Chamber of Commerce—on whose property ATS has its on-site training facility—wondering if the lease “committed” the city to provide water and sewer services.

Obviously it didn’t and couldn’t. Last week’s council non-action proved that.

The wording in question actually attempted to express a preference for city over rural water.

It’s hard to see this situation in anything but the following terms: A. Voters create the MDD and fund it with sales tax money previously going to assist Richards Memorial Hospital; B. MDD does exactly what it was created to do, tries to assist Rockdale’s biggest post-Alcoa Era acquisition with an offer to pay for water and sewer lines; C. The city council gives the MDD the back of its hand.

The council has set a meeting to interview people who want to serve on the MDD board. If this is going to be how the MDD’s input is treated, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to serve on it.

What exactly is going on? Is it a turf war? Is it simply personalities?

Surely Rockdale’s elected leaders are more grown-up than that.—M.B.

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2010-08-19 digital edition

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