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City's water flows to Forsyth County below cost


Engineer tells city to charge county more for water



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July 23, 2012
CUMMING, Ga. — An engineer told city of Cumming leaders they were subsidizing the true cost of water for Forsyth County residents. The information came as negotiations between the two governmental bodies over their water services continued last week.

Cumming has a permit to withdraw water from Lake Lanier, while the county does not.

Nolan "Butch" Johnson, of Marietta-based Civil Engineering Consultants, told Cumming council members Tuesday, July 17, the city is under charging its drinking water, sewer and untreated water.

The study was commissioned by Cumming to give them leverage with the county as details of their new water contract, which expired May 26, are worked out.

(WATCH THE VIDEO OF ENGINEER TELLING THE CITY THEY ARE CHARGING TOO LITTLE HERE.)

"This information presented here is not something we will act on," said city of Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt. "We needed the information for the record."

The information included the city's cost to treat water — $2.98 per 1,000 gallons. The city charges the county $2.43 per 1,000 gallons, a $0.55 cents subsidy.

Johnson recommended the city charge $5 per 1,000 gallons. The average in surrounding communities is $5.39.

In addition, the city's cost to treat wastewater is $5.48 per 1,000 gallons while it charges the county $3.04 per 1,000 gallons.

Johnson recommended the rate to be $6. The average is $6.22.

For untreated water, Johnson said to charge the county $0.20 cents per 1,000 gallons if the county pays $11.4 million for 65 percent allocation at a city-built water intake facility.

The facility cost $17 million and was completed in 2009.

While a deal was reached in May between Forsyth County and the city of Cumming, attorneys say their final intergovernmental agreement is still being hashed out.

"There was a one page term sheet that both sides agreed to in principle," said City Attorney Dana Miles.

Miles said the entire contract is still being revised because the city and the county still can't agree.

"We have a situation where we sent an agreement to them and they sent us a new one," Miles said.

"The term sheet is like a letter of intent. If you have a letter of intent to buy a piece of real property, that tells you what your intent is, but until you have a signed real estate contract, you aren't bound to buy that piece of property and the seller isn't bound to sell that piece of property," he said.

ALSO AT THE MEETING:

*Council changed their regular monthly meeting time to 6 p.m. from 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month.

*Approved a Sawnee EMC request for annexation of 40 acres between Ga. 9 and Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

* Awarded the recreation and parks department printing of 21,000 copies of the fall and winter brochure to Graphic Edge, of Cumming, for $3,600.

* Awarded a new $3,262 balance beam to Wynn-Wynn Athletic, of Lawrenceville.

* Awarded three desktop computers at $3,208 to Lawrenceville-based SED International.

* Alcohol licenses were awarded to Taco Mac and Marie's Italian Deli, Bakery and Market.

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    Water Rates
    July 24, 2012 | 11:31 AM

    What the Mayor failed to mention is that the City has a three-tier water rate structure. The rate charged to the county, at $2.43 per thousand gallons, is the HIGHEST of the three rates. The residents within the City limits pay a MUCH LOWER rate than the county, and the people in the "expanded" city area pay a rate higher then the City, but lower than the county. Let's see if the Mayor increases the rates for the non-county customers! Don't hold your breath! His only interest is to continue to milk the County residents for every penny he can get!

    Hal Schneider
    Cumming
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