Newton County and the City of Covington voted unanimously in their respective meetings this week to stop funding the 2050 Plan Baseline Ordinances that were being facilitated by The Center for Community Preservation and Planning.
After the Newton County Board of Commissioners made a motion in its Aug. 19 meeting to bring planning and ordinances into the county’s planning and zoning department, the city decided it would no longer have a say in planning for the county’s future. That led to a motion in Monday’s city council meeting for the city to stop funding.
Tuesday evening, the BOC also withdrew funding by the county to the 2050 Plan, after a motion by Commissioner John Douglas.
“I make a motion that we pay what we owe, and after that have no more association with the 2050 Plan; Take the 2050 Plan off the table for Newton County,” Douglas said.
After some discussion as to whether or not the county would continue future planning and collaborating with the county’s five cities, water and sewage authority and the school system, Commissioner J.C. Henderson seconded the motion.
“A few weeks ago I received several calls from my constituents throughout the Newton County and the one thing they told me was they didn’t want the 2050 Plan,” Henderson said. “I said, right here a few weeks ago, ‘I hear you. I understand that it doesn’t fit what you want.’ I said then I wouldn’t change. I said J.C. Henderson is not going to change. I’m still standing by what I said.”
The county voted 4-0, with Commissioner Lanier Sims absent, to approve the motion to end funding the 2050 Plan.
One night earlier, The Covington City Council unanimously voted to stop funding for the 2050 Plan’s Baseline Ordinances.
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of Covington to continue funding the Baseline Ordinances, along with the county and water and sewer authority,” Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said. “We committed $150,000 for three years, and we’ve spent $85,000 so far. I propose a motion to stop funding additional funds.”
The county’s Aug. 19 decision helped sway the city council’s decision.
Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams asked why the BOC decided to stop the funding.
Johnston replied in the best way he said he knew how, “I have no clue.”
“I believe the reason why they did it was relatively largely due to the uprising of the community that had some concerns for the 2050 plan, instead of grinding it out and seeing if we could make changes to have a plan for the community. It was resolved at the county level to take it out of The Center and put it in the hands of the county.”
The vote was unanimous 6-0 to stop any further funding to The Center for the 2050 Plan Baseline Ordinances.
While the funding has stopped, some politicians in the county and city still want planning and cooperation to go on.
“We have spent 10 years, and boards prior to this board, developed a leadership collaborative in talking about and planning for the future. I think it’s really important we continue to plan and continue to work together as a county and continue to work together with other entities and not be on an island by ourselves.“ Commissioner Nancy Shulz said in response to Douglas’ motion.