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Henry officials meet with local lawmakers

Photo by Valerie Baldowski
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis (right) speaks to Henry County legislative delegation members, state Rep. Rahn Mayo (from left), Sen. Gail Buckner, and Rep. Glenn Baker, during a recent meeting.

Photo by Valerie Baldowski Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis (right) speaks to Henry County legislative delegation members, state Rep. Rahn Mayo (from left), Sen. Gail Buckner, and Rep. Glenn Baker, during a recent meeting.

The Henry County legislative delegation is preparing for the start of the 2010 session, and hearing the wish lists of county leaders.

Members of the delegation met recently with members of the Henry County Board of Commissioners, and representatives of several other county groups, at the Henry County Administration Building in McDonough.

While the delegation heard a number of requests, no local legislation will be considered until the county commission formally submits a draft of requested bills, said Rep. Steve Davis (R-McDonough), chairman of the delegation.

"We're not going to move forward with any local legislation until the commissioners — the elected body, the officials who are accountable to the people — bring it forth to us," he said.

Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, and representatives from the sheriff's office, the Board of Education, the Tax Commissioner's Office, Henry Medical Center, the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Henry County Development Authority discussed what their legislative priorities will be when the session begins Jan. 11.

Mathis discussed the partnerships forged between each county department and local municipalities as a result of the One Henry initiative.

"We have a great working relationship with all four of our cities," she said. "We are constantly working together for the betterment of the county."

She also highlighted some of the construction projects under way in the county.

There are 15 major Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) projects under way, she said, the largest being the road work along Eagle's Landing Parkway.

Another project is the construction of a new parking deck just off the McDonough Square. The bid for the work came in under budget, she continued.

"It's really helping stretch the SPLOST dollars even further," Mathis said.

State Rep. Glenn Baker (D-Jonesboro), one of the delegation members, questioned Mathis about the county's stance on the proposed commuter rail line.

Mathis said the county cannot support a commuter rail project which would affect the community until more information is gathered. "Henry County is still playing catch up on transportation," Mathis added.

The legislative priorities presented by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce focused on the topics of education, economic development, transportation and the environment.

The Chamber supports funding in Georgia's fiscal year 2011 budget to build the Southern Crescent Technical College's Henry County campus, according to a position statement by the Chamber.

Other initiatives the Chamber supports include legislation authorizing a local referendum creating Tax Allocation Districts, state funding assistance for inter-city passenger rail service between Atlanta and Macon, and full funding of a statewide water plan passed in 2008.

The top priority will be securing funds for the technical school, said Henry County Chamber of Commerce President Kay Pippin.

"I do believe state leadership is now committed," she said. "The only question will be the short revenue they are facing in the [legislative] session."