The Midway City Council last Tuesday unanimously rejected its lawyer’s advice to spend around $250 for a study aimed at helping resolve a years-long dispute between Midway and the Liberty County Development Authority.
Attorney James Coppage was hired by Midway to negotiate with the development authority after Midway City Attorney Richard Braun recused himself because he and Kelly Davis, attorney for the development authority and Liberty County, both work for Jones, Osteen and Jones law firm.
Midway and the LCDA share water and wastewater services but have never been able to agree on payment arrangements. Documents show the LCDA would owe $2,353,476.50 to Midway, including impact fees, but this figure was negotiated down to $286,851.50. Midway owes $52,857.70 to the authority.
A task force with members from the LCDA and Midway had asked the city to waive $3,000 in late fees owed by the authority, but the Midway council turned that down in October. After that, Midway delegated negotiations to Coppage.
In his interim report Tuesday, Coppage recommended that Midway agree to pay half the cost of a rate study to be conducted by the Georgia Rural Water Association. He said the study probably would cost around $500 and could provide information needed to make a new agreement.
“The development authority wants a new water agreement,” Coppage told the council.
After all four Midway council members voted against the study, Coppage told them, “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you you’re making a mistake.”
Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington said the council would continue to discuss water and wastewater issues at future meetings.
In other business:
• The council learned that the relocation of city hall to suites D4 and D6 in Midway Mall was almost complete. City offices in the mall are open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays for payment of utility bills and other business. Washington said the city is working to set up a drop box for utility payments.
• Councilwoman Melice Gerace reported that she was working to implement the fees to be levied for excessive false fire alarms. An ordinance enacted in June allows the city to charge for more than five false fire alarms but no fines have been collected. City officials are working on a procedure to make the ordinance effective.
• Washington reported that Gary Sinrich and H. Craig Stafford had been sworn in as judge and associate judge of Midway’s city court. Sinrich is a local attorney and judge of Hinesville’s municipal court. Stafford is a partner in the local law firm of Arnold, Stafford and Randolph. Liberty County Probate Judge Nancy Aspinwall administered the oaths of office.