By Joel Hall
The City of Riverdale voted Monday to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Clayton County to delineate tasks and responsibilities in regard to the city's road-resurfacing projects. The agreement is one of several the city has formalized to put many of its long-standing "handshake" agreements with the county into writing.
Riverdale City Attorney, Deana Johnson, believes the agreement will clarify the responsibilities of the parties involved, establish accountability in the case of litigation, and ensure the roads being resurfaced are up to Georgia Department of Transportation standards.
"Apparently, for years, the county has been doing resurfacing work for the cities, because they have the equipment and the manpower to do so," said Johnson. "There was never any written agreement in place ... so we have been working with the county to put a lot of those things on the record."
Last year, the city entered into a similar intergovernmental agreement with the county concerning the repair and maintenance of red-light cameras. As all traffic signals and poles in the city are owned by the county, it was unclear before the ordinance who was responsible for maintaining them.
More recently, the city entered another intergovernmental agreement, clarifying the county's responsibility for secure building permits during the construction of schools located within city limits.
"If the road gets paved and it is not accepted by the [Department of Transportation], who is responsible for that?" asked Johnson, rhetorically. "When nothing is on paper, how do you delineate who is in charge?
"Some of [the agreements] worked fine, but to me, there is no reason not to reduce it to writing," Johnson added.
City manager Iris Jessie said as old city employees retire and new people come in to fill those positions, having written agreements is necessary for the city to function properly.
"It's very difficult to have continuity, if the repository for how things worked walks out the door," said Jessie. "It makes perfect sense to me for all the future city clerks and city managers to have something to refer to.
"It is frustrating for people who are used to the informal agreements when you have to commit something to writing, but imagine how much more frustrating it would be if those people are not around in 10 years," Jessie continued. "It just makes for good business."
Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell applauded Riverdale, saying the agreement will save the taxpayers money by keeping the city's road work in house.
"My hat's off to Riverdale for what they are trying to do ... to create partnerships with the county," said Bell. "We have the equipment and it will cost them less than having to outsource it."
Bell said the intergovernmental agreement will create "clear lines of accountability" that are "always open to review. It's a way of keeping adequate records, transparency, and accountability for our citizens."