A consolidation, by definition, is meant to bring separate entities together.
When it comes to Grovetown and Columbia County officials, talk of such a move once again seems to be doing just the opposite, with Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau saying he is again opposed to the idea.
Mr. Trudeau said he can't help but feel that an offer to his city that he says was in exchange for supporting consolidation has now been pulled because of his change of heart on the matter.
"That's exactly what it sounds like,'' he said this week. "That's probably true.''
County Commission Chairman Ron Cross made the matter clearer, stating why 2,000 sewer tie-ins during the next 15 to 20 years had been offered to Grovetown for future growth but would likely no longer be on the table.
"They (the county commission) are not going to put $2 million in the bond issue for Grovetown sewer when Grovetown is not supporting the whole program, and I agree with that,'' Mr. Cross said.
"When they (commissioners) started reading this stuff in the paper ... (stating) we were holding them up and holding them hostage and all that bull, they said, 'It ain't worth all that, if they're not smart enough to realize that we're trying to help them with $2 million worth of sewer improvements, then forget about it.' And that's basically what we've done.''
Mr. Trudeau has said he changed his mind to no longer support consolidation soon after telling Mr. Cross in early December that he would support consolidation if it were contingent upon receiving needed sewer tie-ins from the county.
"I changed my mind really because the way it was presented to me, it just didn't sound right,'' Mr. Trudeau said.
Mr. Trudeau said that in the early December meeting he had with county officials, he was told he could be offered needed sewer lines as part of consolidation but that the county needed his support on consolidation.
"I said, 'OK Mr. Cross, I tell you what I'll do. I'll just play neutral. I won't say anything for it or say anything against it.' He said, 'No, you got to go public. You got to go public.' Finally I said 'OK,''' Mr. Trudeau said.
Mr. Cross said Mr. Trudeau was told he needed to support consolidation in order to help the idea pass and thereby help his city with franchise fees for future sewer tie-ins.
"He (Mr. Trudeau) said, 'Well, I won't do anything to hurt it. I'll be neutral.' I said, 'Mayor, that won't work. In order to get the $2 million to complete what you wanted to do for the next 15 years, we have to get consolidation approved, and we need your support.'''
On Wednesday, in a quarterly city-county meeting, Mr. Cross told Mr. Trudeau he no longer would be able to get approval through the commission for the 2,000 future sewer tie-ins.
Mr. Cross also told Mr. Trudeau he was concerned to hear talk from some in Grovetown who think the county strong-armed Grovetown into changing its mind on consolidation by offering tie-ins.
"We thought we had a sweetheart deal for them that would meet their No. 1 need for the next 15 to 20 years, and they turned around and spit in our face on it,'' Mr. Cross said.
When talk of consolidation was first brought up about five months ago, Mr. Trudeau said he worried that such a move would prevent the future growth of his city.
He said it didn't take him long after agreeing to support consolidation in December to realize he should change his mind back to opposing it.
"I figured if he (Mr. Cross) was going to do it on sewer, the next thing I don't know what he would be wanting me to do,'' Mr. Trudeau said.
The idea of a consolidation is something commissioners have forwarded on to the area's legislative delegation, which has said it is not sure whether the idea could be presented this legislative session and still allow for ample discussion.
Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or email@example.com.