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TMCNet:  LaGrange council, legislators talk upcoming session

[November 16, 2012]

LaGrange council, legislators talk upcoming session

Nov 15, 2012 (LaGrange Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- LaGrange City Council met with its legislative delegation Tuesday, hoping to do a little lobbying before the General Assembly meets again in January.

It also was a chance for the city to educate legislators on its services, particularly for those who were recently elected.

"We reward performance," said City Manager Tom Hall. "We create expectations and try and live up to them." The entire local delegation was present, including state Sens. Josh McKoon and Mike Crane and state Reps. Randy Nix, Carl Vonn Epps and John Pezold. The group also took a tour of the city's LGTV studios, Hamilton Road and Sewon.

Widening Hamilton Road is the city's biggest transportation priority.

The council asked legislators to consider not supporting two pieces of legislation that may come up in 2013. One proposal calls for de-criminalizing some traffic offenses. Police Capt. Mike Pheil said his officers rarely arrest people for basic traffic offenses, but making the traffic stop does give police an opportunity to possibly limit other crimes by running background checks.

The city has issued about 17,000 traffic citations in 2012.

"Criminals move amongst us every day," he said. "We need to know, is this a person who just made a mistake or are they up to something else " Utilities Director Patrick Bowie also asked legislators not to support a proposed bill that would allow private industries to provide solar power utilities in cities.

Bowie and city officials say the third party providers would have to use city infrastructure to get the power to customers.

"They utilize our system to get the power out and we are still the backup," he said. "They are taking our revenue and not our costs." Mayor Jeff Lukken and Hall said the city has created its own enterprises, but only when the service wasn't otherwise available.

"We didn't get into telecommunications for the fun of it," Hall said. "We needed the bandwidth." Lukken said the city asked Bellsouth, the telecommunications provider at the time, to upgrade its system from analog to digital so that industries in the area could expand.

"Our industries couldn't be competitive without digital," he said. Bellsouth refused to upgrade its system, but later took LaGrange to a hearing at the Public Service Commission for providing its own digital service.

"We don't want to compete," he said. "We go in when no one else is there." ___ (c)2012 the LaGrange Daily News (LaGrange, Ga.) Visit the LaGrange Daily News (LaGrange, Ga.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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