Isolation therapy: School Board, City Commission work on team building at retreat

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 2, 2013

Icon_GovernmentDecatur City Commissioners and Board of Education members on Nov. 22 met at a location 48-miles southeast of the city.

It wasn’t recorded and a detailed agenda wasn’t released beforehand, so the public had no idea what was going on.

Thanks to the excellent reporting of Ralph Ellis, we knew it was generally to work on patching up the relationship between the two governing bodies. I asked the city for a copy of the agenda handed out the morning of the meeting. You can download it by clicking here.

Topics included “Team Building” and “Consensus Building.”

I asked City Manager Peggy Merriss for some additional info. Here are her answers to my questions.

Q: Who was the facilitator of the retreat?

A: Murray Weed with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Q: How much did the city spend on the retreat?

A: The costs listed below will be shared 50/50 with the Board of Education.

Paid to Carl Vinson: $2,325

Renting the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Ga.: $515 (including meals)

Q: Was it budgeted?

A: Not specifically. The City Commission budget includes funding for meetings and business expenses as well as professional services fees. There is always an amount included for unanticipated services and meetings. The costs will be within the adopted budget.

Q: Did you record or otherwise document the retreat?

A: I did not and I do not believe any of the other participants did. Mr. Weed will be providing a report in early December.

I appreciate the city answering my questions. I strongly disagree with the city’s decision to hold the retreat nearly an hour away and provide a vague agenda beforehand. While the meeting was open to anyone interested in going, it wasn’t feasible for many people (including myself) to attend.  If our elected officials are going to spend nearly $3,000 in taxpayer money to hold a retreat, I think they should hold it close to where the taxpayers live.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Judd

    Personally, I think something like this retreat is long overdue, and the issue is much deeper than this bond referendum which is really just a symptom. These two bodies need some “alone time” for frank discussion, and I don’t know if they can legally arrange that here in Decatur.

    • Judd you can’t legally arrange alone time anywhere. Meetings of elected officials must be open unless they’re citing a specific exemption in the Open Meetings Act

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