Originally created 02/09/02

Bill empowers county leader



The at-large-elected chairman of Columbia County's commission would be a voting member of the board, set meeting agendas and act as the county's ambassador at events, according to a bill introduced Friday.

The legislation, now in Georgia's Senate, also gives the chairman power to appoint the commission's standing committees and execute all contracts or other agreements for the county.

State Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling, who introduced the bill, said the legislation allows Columbia County's administrator to continue working unfettered, while giving power to the elected government head.

"I think it is a good balance of giving power to the chairman, but not taking power from the commission or administrator," he said.

The bill also staggers the election cycle for the remaining seats:

  • In November, the chairman and District 1 commissioner will be elected to four-year terms
  • In November 2004, commissioners in Districts 2 and 3 will be elected to four-year terms
  • Also in November 2004, the District 4 commissioner will be elected to a two-year term. Then, starting with the November 2006 election, the term will be four years.
  • Left out of the bill is any mention of salary, which will be $10,500 for the part-time position. That issue doesn't change from current law, so there was no reason to include it in the new legislation, said State Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans.

    Mr. Harbin said the county's government is a work in progress.

    "I think this is a good way to start this off for the first time," he said. "We'll do like we've always done; as our government progresses, we'll continue to progress with it."

    Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115, or jbsmith@augustachronicle.com.