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NARCOG raises concerns

The North-Central Alabama Regional Council of governments (NARCOG) is raising public concerns because of the political clashes, board member pullouts and controversy that have marked its operations over the past several weeks.

Decatur City Council has already pulled it membership, subject to a 60-day notice. The condition is that the board opt for a change in bylaws to correspond with population in the three counties the organization serves.

Recent actions taken by the board, including the protested hiring of a new director in December 2011, clearly show that Cullman County commands board control in spite of the fact that it has only 34 percent of the population. Morgan County, on the other hand, has fewer board seats even though it has 51 percent of the population while Cullman and Lawrence counties combined have 49 percent.

The Morgan County Commission could well be the next government entity to pull its membership. While no action has been taken to that end, the governing body is carefully considering its options and has joined Decatur in calling for the board to revamp its bylaws with respect to board membership. Should both governing bodies pull their membership, NARCOG would stand to lose $1.5 million in federal funds designated for the department on aging.

Morgan County’s population of 119,000 far exceeds the number required to handle its own aging program. Therefore, if both Decatur and Morgan County Commission pull out, they could easily implement their own aging program without denying the elderly any of the benefits they now receive, and lower the cost of the service at the same time.

So far Cullman County board members have shown no inclination to move toward supporting bylaw changes. In fact, at their last meeting a move to appoint a bylaws study committee was voted down.

What a shame that these elected or appointed board members, many of whom have worked harmoniously with each other in the past, can’t overcome their petty political differences and put the interests of the people they serve first and foremost.

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