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ACC commissioners postpone votes on mall redevelopment and DA's gang unit

As a committee of commissioners and school board members continue working through a proposed redevelopment of the Georgia Square Mall site, Athens-Clarke County commissioners have set a date for a final vote – Tuesday, February 21.

Mayor Kelly Girtz told commissioners at a Tuesday night session that the Mall Area Redevelopment Committee has been meeting frequently in recent days, as recently as that afternoon, and were awaiting a final draft of a community benefits agreement later this week.

That community benefits agreement is a massive document that spells out what the developer and the county would provide in partnership to bring the nearly-half-billion dollar mixed use project to completion.

The Clarke County Board of Education, which is also a stakeholder, will discuss the issue in their meeting tomorrow.

Also in front of the commission on Tuesday – and also postponed – was a vote to fund a new gang prosecutor, investigator, and victim advocate in the District Attorney’s office.

One sticking point for some commissioners is the timing of DA Deborah Gonzalez’s request. The commission is entering its yearly budget cycle, where lawmakers put together the county’s budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.

Another factor is one that Gonzalez brought up to commissioners last month. According to the District Attorney, her office is already severely understaffed; less than half of the office’s allotted Assistant DA positions are filled. Gonzalez attributes that to a national shortage of prosecutors, and to ACC’s salaries for attorneys, which she says lag behind those of nearby areas.

Commissioners will be moving forward with a salary study for all attorney positions in the county, which could inform whether they choose to include the DA’s request in next year’s budget.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
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