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Cities, county meet over services
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Editor's note: Updated to include statement from Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter. Will update again as more information is available.

Representatives of Richmond Hill, Bryan County and Pembroke met again Wednesday in an effort to bring an end to a stalemate over services.

The meetings were productive, according to Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter. He released a statement Wednesday evening saying "we have made great progress on over half of the SDS issues. In the spirit of cooperation, we have committed to another two days of mediation to discuss the remaining issues."

It's unclear when the next meetings will be. 

The court ordered mediation sessions began Monday and then, after a day off, continued Wednesday at Richmond Hill City Hall.

The meetings are the result of a lawsuit filed in August against Bryan County by Richmond Hill. Pembroke is also a party to the discussions, which are being mediated by Statesboro attorney Susan Cox.

Cox was assigned the case in March by Senior Judge John Turner from the Ogeechee Judicial District, who is presiding over the lawsuit.

But the disagreements are between Richmond Hill and Bryan County, and came after negotiations over services came to a standstill. Both sides repeatedly blamed the other for their failure to reach an agreement on service delivery strategy, a state-mandated agreement that keeps governments from duplicating services. The issue came to a head in August when Bryan County voted to increase the city’s taxes by about 1 mill, claiming it had been undertaxing Richmond Hill residents for the same services county and Pembroke residents receive for more than a decade. Richmond Hill claims in part the county has been illegally collecting money from its residents for services they don’t receive.

Monday’s session involved a quorum from each government and included attorneys and some appointed officials. They are not subject to open meetings laws, according to the Georgia Open Meetings Act of 2012.

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