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Toombs Commission Asks for Draft Legislation
Tuesday, 10 March 2009

March 10--  One of the largest crowds in recent memory to attend a Toombs County commission meeting showed up Tuesday to support county funding of non-profit charitable organizations. The county has been partially funding various groups for years only to learn late last year the practice is illegal unless authorized by the state legislature. 

ImageVidalia attorney Paul Threlkeld spoke for the Ohoopee Regional Council for the Arts, the Altama Museum and the Toombs County Boys and Girls Club and asked the commission to seek local legislation.  "We implore you to garner up the political will to say yes, let's pass local legislation to keep things the way they were.  We don't have to open the door yet, and when times are better we can, and you can amend that legislation, you can repeal it and start over.  But if you will just go ahead and get Tommie and Greg to drop that bill.  I think we can draft it narrow enough to support these organizations which are essential and set Toombs County apart," he said. 

County commissioner Louie Powell recommended that Chairman Buddy West authorize county attorney Howard Kaufold to draft legislation for the commission to consider which would provide for county support of charitable, non-profit organizations.  West agreed, but made no promises on final approval.  "There's nothing wrong with looking at it and investigating it.  We don't want to be closed to anything and we'll just be open to see what comes out in the draft," West said.

If anything is to happen this year, a draft would have to be approved quickly in order to get it to Atlanta for processing, to have it advertised in the local paper for a week, and then take another week for final approval in the House and Senate before the lawmakers adjourn in late March or early April.

Chairman West says the commission will give the issue thorough consideration.  "Time is of the essence, but we're not going to move in a hasty way just to make a decision which would come back and bite us," he said.

Based on comments at the meeting, Commissioners Louie Powell, Skeeter Toole and Roy Lee Williams appear to favor local legislation.  Commissioner Steve Brown is opposed and Chairman West is concerned about numerous other such organizations which would seek funding in the future.  According to West, "it's all or none."  He estimates there are 60 or more such organizations which could qualify if the county opens the door.

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