SDS Dispute Will Head Back to Mediation
Wednesday, October, 23, 2019
The special appointed judge hearing the disputes between the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners and the Milledgeville City Council is sending parties involved back to mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement outside of the courtroom again. The dispute concerns Service Delivery Strategy, or SDS.
The new mediation sessions will be overseen by Susan W. Cox, an attorney and partner at a firm in Statesboro. According to Judge H. Gibbs Flanders, Jr., Cox is familiar with the SDS mediation process and “available to conduct the mediation within 60 days from appointment,” something that is required by law.
Flanders further explained in his ruling, “Upon completion of the mediation, a report shall be prepared by the mediator describing the issues considered, the agreement on issues, and the parties’ positions on issues for which the parties are unable to agree. The parties shall engage in good faith mediation in a timely manner in an effort to agree upon the terms of a SDS for the citizens of the city of Milledgeville and Baldwin County.”
According to attorneys involved in the dispute, the city alleges claims in the amount of about $4 million, whereas the county has alleged a breach of contract against the city, based on the 2008 SDS Agreement and in the amount of nearly $15 million.
The SDS issue was not the only one that Judge Flanders ordered to mediation. He also dismissed the city’s lawsuit against the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners and each of the five commissioners.
Not everyone was happy with the judge’s rulings. According to Commission Chairman John H. Westmoreland, the county and city leaders should be creating their own solutions and not relying on court orders to resolve difference. Westmoreland further stated, “Hopefully, further discussions and mediation will bring us together.”