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County, cities may be headed to mediation over service delivery strategy
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Members of the Bryan County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to sign off on a request by Richmond Hill to add an agreement to a four-month extension of a longstanding strategy covering which local government delivers what services and where.

But they did so “without much enthusiasm,” District 4 commissioner Steve Myers noted during the vote. 

Pembroke approved the agreement requested by Richmond Hill in June.

That agreement, which says “some or all of the parties contend their current SDS should be revised as to one or more services,” was added to a Department of Community Affairs form extending the current service delivery strategy between the three governments through October. 

Also added to the agreement is an addendum saying Richmond Hill “does not forfeit or diminish its legal rights to challenge, correct or modify the current service delivery strategy in the future. Richmond Hill reserves the right to seek or continue seeking modifications to the existing service delivery strategy arrangements at some point in the future.” 

Under the extension, the cities and county will continue providing services such as water and sewer under the same “service delivery strategy,”  approved in 2013. 

Service delivery strategies are required by the state at least in part to avoid duplication of services. 

County commissioners voted in June to enter into mediation and also to appoint former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Norman Fletcher as mediator. 

Fletcher retired from the state’s highest court in 2005 as chief justice after serving on it since 1995. 

Wednesday, Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter confirmed the city is seeking mediation, but it has not agreed to use Fletcher as a mediator. 

He said Richmond Hill wants mediation “to better reach an agreement for the provision of services that is most agreeable to the county, city and Pembroke.”

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