Grovetown, GA (WJBF) – Columbia County was at risk to lose its local government status if they didn’t come to an agreement with the city of Grovetown.
Counties in Georgia must renew service agreements and growth management plans every 10 years. So the City of Harlem and City of Grovetown have to agree to the new contract, but Grovetown’s City Council had a hard time understanding the higher charges.
For months Grovetown City leaders met with Columbia County leaders to renegotiate the state required Service Delivery Strategy. Cities within Columbia County limits agree to services provided by the county that are effective and cost-efficient to citizens. As Grovetown continues to grow the county has increased its services to residents.
“It’s the same agreement that they city signed 11 years ago. So there was no difference in it other than the numbers which are in comparison to the population,” said Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones.
Those services include, but are not limited to animal control, emergency services, public transportation and recreation. In a special called meeting the Grovetown City Council wanted Columbia County to breakdown the cost of each service to see if they are actually getting the best bang for their buck.
“The jail being one. The City of Grovetown no longer has its own jail. So anytime they have an inmate they take the inmate to the Columbia County jail,” Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson said.
Some of the service fees are based on usage by residents. Grovetown makes up 8.9-percent of the county’s population and pays 5.9-percent of the county’s property taxes.
“Just on population alone the city is getting a pretty good deal on the amount of property taxes they pay,” Johnson told WJBF News Channel 6.
After hearing from the County Administrator the Grovetown City Council approved the new Service Delivery Strategy.
“It all boiled down to one thing. Do we want to pay $1.5 or $1.6 million dollars in property taxes or do we want to pay the county $2.3 or $2.4 million dollars to bill us for the service,” Mayor Jones said.
Yet some people feel the county ignores the City of Grovetown despite the fact they pay six times as many taxes than residents of the City of Harlem.
“No I’m not happy. Can you imagine a city as large as Grovetown and no library,” said City of Grovetown resident Rosalee Owens.
The City of Harlem has agreed to sign the agreement and will be voting on Monday. Columbia County Commission will approve the entire agreement on Tuesday.