Hall County has been kicked out of the Joint Local Government Association.
At the association’s meeting Monday evening at the Mulberry Creek Community Center, the group of mayors voted 4-1 to change the bylaws of the organization to include only city governments.
Lula Mayor Milton Turner voted against the motion. Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver, who led the meeting, abstained.
The changes, effective immediately, return the organization to the original bylaws from when it was founded in 1988.
“It will be for the municipalities just like it was intended to be,” Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs said. “This is a local municipal association with the county being invited if the municipalities decide to.”
Oliver said he is not offended by the move.
“They just prefer it be amongst themselves and the county not be there,” Oliver said. “It works well. They can bring up their issues that they’d like to be a part of and that’s good ... I don’t see a problem with it.”
When asked if the move stemmed from recent conflicts with Hall County, Gainesville Mayor Pro Tem Danny Dunagan answered, “possibly, yes.”
“We just feel like we need to be able to meet together as cities and work out some problems,” Dunagan said. “We’re just going back to the good old days.”
Flowery Branch City Councilman Chris Fetterman also said disagreements between city and county governments contributed to the move to remove them from the organization.
“I think the way Hall County treated the municipalities with a lot of broken promises ... they need a reality check,” Fetterman said.
Hall County was most recently involved in a conflict with the city of Clermont over the location of a library planned for North Hall.
Clermont is suing the county over what they call an abuse of discretion with sales tax dollars. Clermont officials say the library was slated to be built in the city, but county officials maintain no official decision on the location was made until a Feb. 25 meeting at which the commissioners voted to build the library in the same Nopone Road facility as the North Hall park and community center.
Other cities sided with Clermont’s cause and some, including Flowery Branch and Oakwood, sent official letters to the county in support of Clermont.
But Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann said he thinks it’s important for cities to continue to cooperate with Hall County.
“I think they are a very valuable and important part of the government association,” Wangemann said. “We still need to work together. That I think is critical to any of the successes we have in Hall County in the area of local government.
“I hate to see them leave but I also respect the vote of the majority.”