May 02--The city of Gordon, facing a loss of its insurance, has one more month to find coverage.
The Georgia Municipal Association had notified city leaders that Gordon's property and liability insurance would not be renewed and would run out by May 1. But a nonrenewal clause in the agreement should have given the city 90 days' notice, which would push the deadline to the first week in June, City Councilman Terry Eady said.
The city has been paying $4,000 to $5,000 a month to be part of the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, a group of about 330 cities, housing authorities and regional authorities that pool their money to pay claims.
Now, with the clock ticking, the city has been talking with three midstate insurance agencies to try to find coverage. That coverage would include everything from the city's 25 or so employees to its vehicles and facilities and even workers' compensation.
Eady, who's also mayor pro tem, said city leaders had hoped to strike a deal in time to present a plan to council members during a Monday night meeting.
A letter from the Georgia Municipal Association to city officials earlier this spring cited "apparent dysfunction among the elected officials ... which has created conditions that increase risk of loss to the city beyond acceptable levels." The letter also mentioned an "apparent consistent disregard of open meeting laws and related notice requirements" that led to an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office. That probe followed claims of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by three city department heads that also have increased potential liability, the letter said. A fourth employee also filed an EEOC claim. Mediation has not resolved one of those claims, so it may be headed to trial, Eady said.
Also, the city was just hit with an $8,700 claim after the bucket of a backhoe that a city worker was operating accidentally hit the side of a mobile home.
"It was just a freak accident," said Eady, who is also the city's volunteer fire chief. But "it's something almost weekly."
Eady said city leaders are most concerned with coverage for the police force, since it operates around the clock.
"If you don't have coverage for police cars, what do you do?" he asked. "You've got to come up with insurance or some kind of plan."
That plan, if the city has no coverage, could involve asking the Wilkinson County Sheriff's Office to patrol the city.
Two council members and members of the Concerned Citizens of Gordon group filed a lawsuit in Wilkinson County Superior Court earlier this year, seeking to remove Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue from office.
To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396.
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