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Lovejoy authorizes mayor to negotiate service delivery

Photo by Jim Massara
Lovejoy’s city council gave Mayor Bobby Cartwright the power to sign off for it in upcoming service-delivery negotations with Clayton County.

Photo by Jim Massara Lovejoy’s city council gave Mayor Bobby Cartwright the power to sign off for it in upcoming service-delivery negotations with Clayton County.

LOVEJOY — Lovejoy’s City Council gave Mayor Bobby Cartwright authority to make binding decisions in upcoming negotations with Clayton County over who provides which services and divvying up sales-tax money.

Added to the meeting agenda at the last minute Monday during a pre-meeting work session, the unanimous vote by council authorized “the mayor to excute all documents in reference to the SDS [service delivery strategy] LOST [local option sales tax] negotiations.”

Lovejoy is one of seven cities in Clayton that will negotiate jointly with the county over who provides services like police and fire protection. The resolution was made in response to a memorandum of agreement with attorney Steve Fincher, who will represent the cities in negotiations and said he didn’t want to be weighed down by having every move delayed by each city’s bureaucracy.

The cities’ first meeting with Clayton County is scheduled for July 24.

Lovejoy’s resolution was drafted by city attorney L’Erin Barnes, who told the council before the vote Cartwright had to be able to make “on the spot” decisions during upcoming service-delivery negotations.

Before the meeting, Cartwright said the resolution was necessary to streamline the process and allow quick negotiation.

“Obviously, the whole council can’t go to every meeting,” Cartwright said. “We can’t wait to gather all the information, go back to the city, talk to the city, then go back to gather more information.”

After the meeting, former mayoral candidate Lindsay Baker voiced his disapproval.

“They gave him a blank check,” Baker said. “They gave Bobby Cartwright a blank check.”

Baker said in his judgment the old process, which was slower and required more council input, should have been maintained until a new city manager was hired.

Lovejoy currently has no city manager, although there’s a budget for one. The city parted company with its previous manager, Sebastian Jackson, about three months ago and did not renew his contract.

The service delivery strategy agreement outlines whether the cities or counties handle police services, sanitation and similar functions. State law requires an agreement to be in place for counties and cities to be eligible to apply for state grants and permits. The last agreement expired October 2011.

Staff writer Curt Yeomans contributed to this article.