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WASA wants power to extend PTC sewer beyond city limits

The Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority wants to save big money by refinancing two bond series for a potential savings of $1.8 million.

The refinancing also gives the authority a chance to eliminate a restriction that gives the City Council veto power over any extension of the sewer system outside of the city limits. That restriction has cost the authority a significant amount of revenue in the past several years as council turned down two proposals to provide sewer service in Senoia and unincorporated Coweta County.

In lieu of the restriction, WASA will suggest language that gives the council an advisory role on sewer projects that would extend beyond the city limits. If council doesn’t go along with the proposal, the authority’s savings in the refinancing would dip by $518,000.

WASA Chairman Mike Harman, addressing the matter at a board meeting Monday night, recalled that the city of Senoia wanted WASA to extend sewer service into the Coweta area a few years ago which would have added about $700,000 a year in revenue. But the council turned down the deal in an effort to artificially control Senoia’s growth, so the revenue was lost ... and Senoia built its own sewer system with four times the capacity it sought from WASA, Harmon said.

Harman argued that WASA owes it to its ratepayers to acquire the ability to select proposals for extending the sewer beyond the city limits, particularly because there is plenty of capacity left to treat more wastewater.

After the meeting, Harman noted that WASA’s costs of operating two sewage treatment plants are fixed and can’t be cut, although WASA staff has been successful in controlling expenses.

The WASA board consists of five members who are appointed to serve by the city council but the authority receives no tax money from the city. Instead most of its revenues come from residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers, with some also coming from sewer tap-in fees for new construction.

WASA was created in the 1990s to facilitate the city purchasing of the sewer system which was then operated by Georgia Utilities Corporation, an arm of then-developer Pathway Communities. An intergovernmental agreement between WASA and the city contains language that requires a resolution from city council to allow the extension of sewer service beyond the city limits.

The point of the agreement was to restrict sewer service to the corporate limits of Peachtree City. Fayette County has historically opposed sewer service to unincorporated areas because sewer service usually means denser developments.

Prior councils and commissions have wanted to control density outside cities by denying those areas city sewer service.

The idea of eliminating that veto power comes with a cost. If council refuses to remove the language from the intergovernmental agreement so it can back the WASA bonds, the savings would dip from $1.8 to $1.3 million, and WASA would have to temporarily pony up a reserve fund of $1.85 million, which could be paid for by cashing in reserve funds.

Harmon noted that the decision is up to the city council, which has the chance to save city ratepayers about half a million dollars if it agrees to continue backing the sewer bonds.

WASA board member Tim Meredith agreed that political decisions by previous city councils have kept the authority from earning more revenue.

Harman said there was also a proposal several years ago to extend the city’s sewer into east Coweta County to serve the Fischer Crossing development. That proposal was also shot down by city council, and the development got sewer service extended by Newnan Utilities instead, Harmon noted.

Looking to the future, WASA is unlikely to extend sewer access in unincorporated Fayette County because the county commission has veto power over sewer extensions, a number of which have been halted over the years including for a church in north Fayette County that wanted to tap onto Clayton County’s sewer system.

It is possible, however, that WASA might find growth avenues in the undeveloped areas of east Coweta County and also perhaps Tyrone, some of which is currently served by the Fulton County sewer system.

Harman said he was not in favor of seeking every opportunity to extend the sewer system outside of the city, but he felt “we have been offered some select opportunities that I believe were in the best interest of the citizens that were not approved.”

WASA board member Luis Valencia said while he doesn’t want to develop a conflict with council members, the refinancing will help the authority have more money for capital improvements.

WASA board member Phil Mahler noted that even without the veto power for out of city sewer extensions, the city council could still decide to back WASA’s sewer bonds to save money for residents and business owners.



Don Haddix's picture

Not noted is the State Law that says if a serviceable line comes 200' or closer to an adjoining property, the adjoining property can demand hook up and cannot be denied.

That domino effect is why Fayeteville and PTC do not allow extending lines outside city limits.

Putting the line into unincorporated Fayette, or Coweta, opens Pandora's box on development of any kind.

Having a Director's seat on the County Board of Health, I can tell you there are non percolating parcels, meaning they cannot use septic, on the border of PTC and other areas that remain undeveloped.

Make sewer available, then watch it domino into the unincorporated county.

Also note, all Directors are interviewed and sent to full Council for approval by a panel consisting of the City Manager, Chairman, Mayor and one Council Member the Mayor appoints.

The blame for the excess capacity falls on both a past WASA Board, including Chairman Harman, and a Council. WASA said they needed it and the Council approved the bond backing.

This is a problem without a clear cut answer that does not hurt PTC.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

cogitoergofay's picture

If the Sewer Authority has problems, it is largely of their own making. Removing control over this unelected board is a very dangerous move. Morgan may feel more comfortable with the lawlessness we experienced with the Development Authority. I do not.

When are elected officials going to learn to "JUST SAY NO". Didn't you people learn anything from the TSPLOST vote? Mayor Haddix is correct in his position; he should hold the line and SAY NO.

NUK_1's picture

The problem is the water/sewer bills. WASA can keep raising the rates, so it's not THEIR problem, it's ours.

When Photocircuits left, revenue to the sewer system took a really big hit. So, they increased rates, made cuts where necessary, and that's where we are today. There is little development in PTC so hook-up fees aren't going to increase.

It was asinine to not let WASA provide sewer to Senoia since Senoia now has double the capacity they had asked WASA to provide. They can develop all they want to and it's effect on PTC will be the same, whether that's NU providing sewer or WASA. That lost revenue simply means higher water/sewer bills for the PTC taxpayer.

Here's an easy way to save about 500K and maybe in the future not have constantly increasing water/sewer bills by unshackling WASA. Works for me.

cogitoergofay's picture

The WASA problems are operating finances. Let them raise rates.

The issue is imposing control over the use of a very dangerous resource that could unpredictably and surprisingly alter the quality of life in Peachtree City.

The veto puts in another layer of protection against unprotected growth. Such as---- Section 8 Apartments where we were promised would not happen. Otherwise we will have another tennis center regime, with no open government compliance, mistakes, errors and no oversight and, let me repeat, no one running for re-election to be held accountable.

$500,000 savings ??? That is a drop in the bucket. It is 1/80th of one year's budget. You want to save $500,000 TWICE ??? Don't pay for a plastic sheet over the swimming pool.

This Council continues to be penny wise and dollar foolish.

Mike King's picture

Leave it to our libelous mayor to decry that allowing an authority to judiciously save its users money by careful expansion is so typical of his utter lack of foresight. Additionally, isn't it always this type of mindset that looks for ways to prevent meaningful progress instead of working to make things happen? Typically bureaucratic.

Our water/sewer rates jumped substantially recently for this very reason. Further, denial of sewer service to the Publix shopping center on 54 is simply criminal when it could easily be annexed into the city limits, given sewer hook up, and thereby eliminating the potential septic tank seepage into the water table.

No one is denying the 200' law because to get "hooked up' WASA is paid to do so. I guess the mayor wants a pot-o-potty franchise for unincorporated Fayette to make up for lost income.

yellowjax1212's picture

Really wish you would spend less time on the blogs blaming others and taking pot shots at political rivals (Harmon) and worry more about how you are going to pay back the $10,000 you stole from the taxpayers of PTC. Oh, that's right, you have no intention of paying back the $10,000 you stole from the taxpayers of PTC.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

First of all, yes it is Mike, sorry Mr. Harman.

Clear cut answers are what we expect from our elected leadership. The whole thing is set up that way - you vote yes or no on specific proposals - not "I don't know"

Let's focus on one simple thing instead of spouting talking points that sound like they are coming out of a Democrat's playbook. Domino effect, my butt. That's why we lost 50,000 lives in Vietnam.

Why in the world do you care about "controlling" growth on the borders of PTC? Be specific - what exactly are you afraid of happening? Is it economic, racial, traffic, crime, size of homes - what?

Second question - How does exerting that control (by vetoing expansion) as you did with Senoia help? Look what is there now - not that it bothers me. Does it bother you? If you really need control, would it not be better to allow expansion and even annexation and do it on own your terms rather than losing all control by vetoing the expansion? And with annexation we receive their taxes. And their kids can use our half-empty soccer fields and pools. Their kids can also go to our half-empty schools. But I digress.

Bonus round - here's the hardest question of all, Do your views control this whole debate or does your position as mayor allow some flexibility to solicit input from city council members, planning commission or even just regular citizens? After which you do the right thing - even if it is contrary to your personal beliefs.

Live free or die!

NUK_1's picture

I'll add another one: who currently has been in PTC for about 13 years providing Internet to City gov and networked all the City buildings together into their fiber network? Hmmm.. that would be NEWNAN Utilities! Wow, good thing Coweta County didn't howl about NU coming into PTC(and later Fairburn)or the city would have had dial-up modems for a few more years and no connectivity between buildings.

Growth is going to happen and HAS to happen. They quit making land a long time ago and they churn-out people constantly. It's how you manage the growth that matters and whether you want to control it or whine about it as others do it the way they feel best suits them.

Don Haddix's picture

I was not on Council for the Senoia vote.

Everyone on Council has a vote and opinion, which has always been pro control, as a majority.

The sewer issue with Tyrone was one factor in incumbent Councilman Harman loosing the 2007 election.

Indeed, I have voted for things I personally opposed due to legal and/or other reasons. The variance at Aberdeen Pkwy and Northlake being one, for all of us on that Council.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Ok, I will try to keep it simple.

Why in the world do you care about "controlling" growth on the borders of PTC? Be specific - what exactly are you afraid of happening? Is it economic, racial, traffic, crime, size of homes - what?

Multiple choice with an option to add your own answer. Please focus and answer the question. It is not about what previous councils did or what other people believe or what happened in previous elections. It is about what you believe right now. Of course the follow up question is what are you going to do about it, but we will save that for later.

Live free or die!

Don Haddix's picture

Quality of life and the vision for PTC and Fayette.

You want high density growth, but the vast majority of Fayette does not. Many moved here to escape it.

As for what I am doing about it, not telling now.

Oh, but yes, history does matter. It sheds light on the issues of today, especially concerning the decision makers at WASA.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I am certainly on board with that.

And if I may be so bold as to suggest a course of action that will take the emotion and hair-trigger reactions out of this debate - simply get that map from Mr. Harman that shows where sewer expansion is physically possible, whether it be via annexation or the 200 foot rule. Then give that map to your planning and development dept. and have them overlay a land use plan on those areas that work within the guidelines of the existing land use plan and the adjacent PTC land. Simple. Then when something comes up, check the map and everyone will know exactly what is being discussed instead of this horrible fear of the unknown. More importantly, developers and landowners will know it is fruitless to propose something not allowed by the land use plan. It is a Peachtree City motto - "Plan to Stay".

Once again, if you control growth via. the sewer you can also control the density. If you let control go over to say, Senoia because of some small-minded political decision- you lose control of the density. Pretty simple to me. Makes it simple for mayor and council as well - vote for the land use plan - good boy; vote against the land use plan - bad dog.

Yes indeed, we should learn from history, but politicizing it by focusing on past decisions is not productive - unless you are one of those morons that says -"What about Bush" Move forward dude. Instead of assigning blame for past decisions make some good decisions in the present. And in the future.

Live free or die!

tortugaocho's picture

It's interesting how Morgan can always be counted on to spout the party line. Mark, Mike, Joe--- whatever the hell his name is--- he's "our guy" on WASA, "let's just trust him".

Morgan says "Move forward dude. Instead of assigning blame for past decisions make some good decisions in the present. And in the future." WOW, that means stick your head in the sand, Bobby.

Didn't you see what just happened with TSPLOST? A tiny tax, $2.00 on a $200 grocery bill---- and ALL of Metro Atlanta spanked it with a hard no.

How about just saying "NO" on this one? We bought this same damn sewer system full of holes and problems and now you want give them the keys to our City Planning ? I say not no, but hell no.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

and as a result we got a rate increase, deferred maintenance and another rate increase coming up - count on it. And that was just a one-time mistake. I guess we should just keep saying no over and over and expect different results. What has been lacking in the whole sewer thing is strong leadership. Beginning with the Lenox administration which ignored offered evidence that the system was a maintenance nightmare, they shelled out $28 million (and tried real hard to hide the cost) because the "fear of losing control". Then we fast forward 20 years and the Senoia debacle occurs because of "fear of losing control" we said no to them. Of course what happened next is we lost control and lost $3,000,000 and $50,000 per month.

I think that just saying no without giving any thought to increasing revenue or addressing maintenance issues is the ultimate way to stick one's head in the sand. When the sewer portion of your water bill exceeds $100 per month or you are hit with a special assessment of $1500, you might wake up and say - what could we have done to prevent that?

The city's land use plan and the sewer system are the most potent planning and zoning enforcement tools we have. I am simply suggesting that we use them properly instead of leaving them incomplete and completely blank beyond the city's borders. Once again if you expand the land use plan to show the world what PTC wants on its borders, you are being proactive and discouraging inappropriate applications for sewer expansion and annexation. It is also common sense that if you have only so much extra sewer capacity you should reserve it for the places and uses that conform to our land use plan. By doing this, you are in fact - just saying no - to inappropriate uses.

If you don't do that, you fight the major battles with each application and sometimes it gets ugly. Norsouth apartments didn't have sewer as a the central issue, but it serves as a good example of what can happen when just one elected official or staff member reacts without backup or the protective guidance of a pre-approved plan.

Live free or die!

ptctaxpayer's picture

"The protective guidance of a pre-approved plan"---LOL

Morgan, you are a priceless and reliable shill. That sounds just like "World Class Tennis Facility", grunted out not long before Pace pocketed a bunch of cash for a leaky roof and Virgil skipped out to Alabama. Meanwhile, the lawyers and CPAs skipped the Open Government stuff and we got stuck with a whole bunch of extra bills.

WASA unbridled means more apartments and more horrific traffic jams like 54 and 74.

"Protective guidance"-- wow, you've been spending too much time in the cigar bars. You and Marta Leonard need an intervention.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

WTF you got going on in your head that says something like "Pace and Amos and Christian scammed the city and Tom Farr died as well, and you are thinking your position was better? Who are you - Steve Brown? I despise the PCD/Croup IV connection and think the sewer thing that took $28million and divided it up between Mitchell, Pace, Lenox, Black and 2 flunkies at PCDC was a big mistake on the city's part - especially since they were warned about the inferior pipe, the leaks and other things.

Don't know who Marta Leonard is, But if she has a nice personality - I'd like to meet her.

Peachtree City has the ability to plan and divert bad zoning proposals on the borders. We can use the land use plan and the sewer system as our tools - OR we can just do nothing and posture and position as our dorky mayor says and just wait for the next surprise.

You know, if I were mayor I would want to actually have a good enough legacy so that when I actually walked into Pasqual's somebody would actually want to step up and actually shake my hand. Yes, he actually talks that way. I hope Kimmy is our next mayor. Best way to put mr. haddix on the bench is to run someone smarter than he is. Right?

Live free or die!

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Now just what do you think our esteemed mayor and city council will do. You can count on the mayor being a butt about it, but thankfully we have 4 others. I'm certain Eric and George will vote on the side of saving the taxpayers $1.8 million - and actually it is more than that because once the veto power is removed, we will get more users on the southside and our emergency rate increase a year or two ago will go away. I see Kim - being an engineer, possessing 90% of the technical knowledge on council, reluctant to give up control, but flexible. No clue where Vanessa stands.

Now somebody is going to be an alarmist about the 200 foot rule which says that owners of property within 200 feet of the sewer system can demand to be hooked up. That is correct, but the city does not have to pay for the 200 feet of pipe or the cost to install it or for the easements to allow it. The city (actually the sewer authority can also charge hookup fees that are reasonable or even outrageously high to minimize the 200 foot growth. Don't let the control freaks snow you with the 200 foot excuse. It can be managed. And it must be managed. I'm all for doing it, but not unless we have some professionals in charge. I have complete faith in Mark Harman to oversee this properly. I am certain he has a map showing where the 200 foot activity can occur and the costs and ramifications and I'm sure he'll bring it to the next meeting. I seriously doubt if anyone on council or the mayor have 1/10th the technical knowledge that Mark possesses.

Updated 2:30PM - So, as predicted the usual suspects said the usual things. Didn't see anything in the comments that excited me until Mark Harman himself provided non-emotional, non-political historical facts. Why protecting our borders from growth in the middle of the worst real estate recession ever is being discussed is beyond me. Focus should be on saving money, reducing expenses, living within our means. That means city, county, water and sewer authority. Having Mr. Harman in charge is a clear advantage over the past and present mayors who are approaching this thing in their normal ham-handed manner without even pausing to consider that they are representing all taxpayers and that maybe a discussion in a city council meeting would be appropriate before just telling us how it is going to be.

I think Ms. Learnard may have to take the lead on getting this discussion going as our mayor seems to have already made up his mind.

Live free or die!

Don Haddix's picture

I guess you have missed some information. The 200' rule is a huge concern on Council. As is sewer outside of PTC.

Also, you imply you know Chairman Harman enough to fully trust him. Then you call him "Mark." His name is "Mike."

The 200' rule did not concern WASA during the last retail proposal for Southern Pines. It included a lift station on another property well within 200' of County property where they want to build a huge retail center by Wilshire. Property that has since been rezoned commercial.

WASA supported it and their only argument was they only existed to make money. Development impacts were not their concern.

Ironically, you just said worst real estate recession while backing building unneeded homes that detract from encouraging exist home sales and redevelopment.


<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Steve Brown's picture

This is a reoccurring theme with WASA Chairman Mike Harman.

We all know where expanded sewer is going to take us: more dense development and more traffic.

Several of us screamed loud and clear when the sewer capacity was significantly increased during the Lenox administration. We were given all kinds of excuses as to why it needed to be increased.

Now we have the exact scenario that we warned about.

Just like Callula Hills - just say "NO."

NUK_1's picture

Instead they got it from Newnan Utilities and Senoia got double the capacity that they had asked WASA for. So, how did denying sewer expansion to either place accomplish anything besides lost revenues? They can get it from WASA and WASA gets the revenue, or they get it from NU and NU/Coweta gets the revenue. Either way, there is sewer there no matter which system it is tied into.

East Coweta is going to be developed regardless of a damn thing PTC does. It's just a matter of whether they'll be paying to WASA or paying to Newnan Utilities.

Steve Brown's picture

The situation in East Coweta is a lot more dependent upon us than you think.

Coweta is going to regret all of the development along SR 54. They are going to create massive traffic problems and make going to Newnan shopping undesirable.

The residential density in East Coweta is the major concern. A while back, they were going to use the Gwinnett County planning method of build the heck out of it and figure out how to move people around later. I have spoken to some of them and attitudes have changed.

But do not limit your thinking to East Coweta. What happens towards Brooks and the rest of the southwestern part of our county? There is one annexation request in the hopper now.

Mike King's picture

Realizing that your comment is directed at Nuk I simply must point out that your "opinion" regarding Coweta's regret is based upon the same logic that our current mayor used when he stated that Peachtree City residents would not shop at Sam's. He was wrong, and your lamenting the growth simply isn't going to stop it.

The lack of growth is the primary reason that Peachtree City is in a financial fix, and to simply say "NO" to any growth/development is to place our heads in the sand while the rest of the world moves on. Could this be your aim?

If it is, I would ask you to comment on that little land aquisition for a cart bridge to nowhere. Specifically, was it worth the cost?

Further, should it be more undesirable for folks from Coweta County to get to Newnan to shop, are you against them/us shopping in here in Peachtree City?

americanpatriots's picture

Just say NO and move on.

What land developers have come up with this? Just follow the money trail and you will flush out the truth every time.

Jim Richter

SPQR's picture

WASA seems to have very little accountability now. Changing from a long leash to no leash is a little scary.

Apologies for the user name but it is an old one.
This is Mike Harman.
The headline should actually read
WASA TO REFINANCE BONDS AND SAVE NEARLY $2,000,000, which is really the topic of discussion. Sadly, that is not the point of focus. I apologize in advance for the length.

Mr. Munford did a very good job of reporting the issues discussed at our most recent meeting. The Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority has one primary goal and that is to provide sewer service to our costomers and do what is fiscally responsible with the money collected from those customers. We are a board of unpaid volunteers appointed by the City Council. I will say that in my time on the Authority the City Council has always selected the best candidate for the open position. The decision has never been based on someones political views. At no time has any member of council tried to recommend a friend or someone less qualified.
We are all citizens of PTC. We have no hidden agendas and do not profit from any activites related to the Water and Sewer Authority. We are an appointed board and there are no political motivations for any decisions that are made. Decisions are based solely on their merit and benefit to our rate payers. The Authority operates as a completely independent entity and uses no resources, personnel or assets of the city.

Now I need to offer some insight to the current issue and the comments made by some regarding this article. Over the last 5-6 years, several factors have contributed to the need to increase sewer rates in 2010. First is that Photocircuits did leave and at $800,000/yr it was a significant loss. Second, because of the drought water usage was down due to conservation and lastly reduced construction and new conections. Nobody could have predicted the drought or recession.

The factors that lead to the upgrade are numerous and I will not take the space to detail them all. But, I will say that it was necessary at the time because of costs associated with repairs to existing equipment in order to bring it up to regulatory requirements. The two operating treatment plants have capacity to treat up to 6 million gallons per day (MGD). The plants currently see roughly 3.8 MGD. The size of the increase in capacity was determined by calculating the requirements if all of the land in PTC were developed, all houses with septic were added and the West Village was completed plus a small contingency. Flow data is available which shows the increasing trend, prior to the drought and recession.

Based on the number of complaints we received after the last rate increase, a large number of citizens were unhappy. However, the Authority was left with no other options. The size or equipment at the treatment plants can not be reduced nor can personnel be cut any further, as there are state and federal guidelines that are required to be met.

Mr. Brown and Mayor Haddix have made points against any expansion of the sewer service. I again need to point out a few facts. First is that the adminstration of former Mayor Lennox had nothing to do with the decision to increase Sewer capacity. That decision was made by the general manager and the Board at that time. However, the City did agree to cosign the bonds required to finance the project, in order for the Authority to obtain a better bond rating, than it would have been able to obtain alone, and reduce the finance costs. In exchange for that agreement, Council required that a provision be put in place that required approval for extension of service outside the city limits.

When the town of Senoia approached the Authority about reserving capacity of 500,000 GPD, the revenue generated would have been a connection fee of roughly $3,000,000 and a monthly rate of about $50,000. At the council meeting when they made the request, the general opinion of the council was that if this connection was approved, it would lead to uncontrolled and rampant growth in Senoia. The City Manager and Mayor of Senoia both made perfectly clear that they didn't want that any more than PTC did. But council decided to deny the request. At that same meeting, I explained that it was OK to make that decision but that the rate payers of PTC could expect a significant rate increase at some time. The response was basically "oh well". Had that connection been approved the last rate increase would not have been necessary. And, as has been pointed out, rather than have capacity of 500,000 GPD, Senoia built their own treatment plant capable of treating 2,000,000 gallons per day. The same basic situation, although much smaller, happened with Fischer Crossing. The fear was that there would be excess growth. Council denied the request and they obtained service elsewhere. Those decisions were made because of the potential political backlash not what was in the best interest of the WASA rate payers. As has proven correct, not only were the decisions ultimately shown to be incorrect but the situations potentially made worse. It is highly unlikely that another opportunity, similar to Senoia, will ever present itself.

None of the current Authority board members wants uncontrolled growth any more than any other citizen. But, as a citizen or rate payer, wouldn't you prefer the decision be based on merit rather than how it will effect the peoples opinion of someone? None of the current board members are associated with any type of development or construction business. Also, at this time, there are no pending requests for sewer connections. The Authority is going to refinance the existing bonds because of the current interest rates and the amount of money that will be saved. The options are currently being investigated by the bonding company, the General Manager and the Authority's attorney. What is 100% certain is that the Authority could save quite a bit of money if the city were to cosign the bond issue.

I encourage anyone to attend any of the regularly scheduled Authority meetings. They are held on the first Monday of every month. You will see that the meetings are well organized, to the point, completely without political motivations and decisions are always based on the best interests of the rate payers. There is much more to learn from the meetings than just what is written and commented on in the paper. In addition, if anyone would like to discuss any of the Authority business, myself, the other board members and Stephen Hogan the General Manager are available.

Let's get this straight - It seems the WASA operates on its own and is for the most part not under city council's authority - what other public entity enjoys that liberty?

The WASA (recently shown to be in good financial shape) wants to issue significant dollar amounts in bonds in exchange for even LESS oversight by the city.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but who would have to stand behind those bonds except Peachtree City and its governing entity i.e. city council?

The WASA now folds the sewer surcharge they implemented several years ago into your bill. It is no longer listed as a separate line item. This suggests they desire to continue the surcharge without notice, in spite of the fact that they are now in a much healthier condition.

I propose City Council take the opportunity to consider granting the bonds asked for under two conditions.

1. The WASA find its place on the PTC organizational chart as an entity under the authority of City Council.

2. The PTC WASA immediately rescind the sewer surcharge instituted a few years ago.

From a constituted authority stand point, the WASA is a rouge agency. WASA operates largely under its own authority yet demands that the city facilitate their financing.

To allow this to continue would demonstrate a serious lapse in judgement on the part of council and leave residents without a way to hold WASA accountable for future mandates.


Robert W. Morgan's picture

On one side you have Don Haddix (read of his missives lately?) on the other side you have Mike Harman, citizens and taxpayers with common sense and truth, justice and the American way. Which one is a leader? Huh?

There are many, many, many bonds for sewer and other things that pay a marvelous rate of return - I get $3,000 per month tax free on mine. These bonds will help many people investing in them, but most of all it will help PTC. Just get with the program and let the sewer authority be successful.

Live free or die!

Robert W. Morgan's picture

On one side you have Don Haddix (read of his missives lately?) on the other side you have Mike Harman, citizens and taxpayers with common sense and truth, justice and the American way. Which one is a leader? Huh?

There are many, many, many bonds for sewer and other things that pay a marvelous rate of return - I get $3,000 per month tax free on mine. These bonds will help many people investing in them, but most of all it will help PTC. Just get with the program and let the sewer authority be successful.

Live free or die!

Steve Brown's picture

I have never objected to allowing Peachtree City to have the right of refusal for sewer expansion. There have even been some expansions outside of the city limits that I have disagreed with, but that is how it goes.

What we do not need is for the sewer system to have is unbridled access to extend sewer anywhere it wants.

There were a handful of us who said this would happen when the system created a large sewer expansion on the south side of the city. We complained about this exact scenario.

We were given a variety of excuses as to why we needed such a large expansion. The real story was local development interests were pushing it behind the scenes.

The whole story behind the sewer system and the robber barons that cheated the city and sewer patrons out of big bucks to take the system over is as bad as the current series of debacles with the Board of Education.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

2 facts.
1. The expanded capacity was necessary to justify the $28 million expense. There was also a window closing on getting a permit to expand. You need to have more customers to retire a huge debt. Getting the extra capacity was mostly an inexpensive paperwork exercise.They were planning ahead. Like we should be doing now.
2. There is a specific amount of unused capacity - it is not unlimited. One can easily compute a specific number of houses and commercial establishments that can be serviced by the excess capacity. And someone should do so. Right now.

So, my point is, if you have the ability to calculate the number of houses and businesses, does it not make sense to do that and then prioritize the locations where those houses and businesses can go (by expanding the existing and use plan) - whether it is inside or outside the city? Then you can exclude all other locations and uses and have it be somewhat defensible in court because you are telling everyone what the rules are upfront. That would seem an elegant solution for all you control freaks who are obsessed with protecting our borders (from what, I still don't know).

Or you can just say no and do nothing and wait until the next big surprise comes along - like some industrial user that gobbles up all our remaining capacity, leaving us with no more options OR someone comes in with a use not contemplated or desired and says "I'm within 200 feet and your land use plan doesn't cover that area" and that somebody has Doug Dillard on speed dial.

Live free or die!

Don Haddix's picture

You cannot change zoning without the owners agreement.

Zoning is law, the Land Use Plan is nothing more than that, a plan, goal, wish list. It is not law.

State Law trumps local law. It mandates connections.

The County Zoning Map clearly shows a developer paradise where sewer could domino throughout the County.

       Current through amendments received through June 30, 2008              

290-5-26-.03. General Provisions.

(1) "On-Site Sewage Management System Required" - Where public or community sewage treatment systems are not available, the owner, lessee or agent thereof of every building, residence or property, designed, used or intended to be used for human occupancy or congregation, shall provide an approved on-site sewage management system sufficient for persons normally expected to use or frequent the building, residence or other property for two hours or more. Connection shall be made to a public or community sewage treatment system when such system is available within two hundred feet (200') of the property line, or available in a public right-of-way abutting the property. Where a public or community sewage treatment system is to be constructed, or an existing public or community sewer is to be extended to serve a lot, or an approved on-site sewage management system is to be used, the building sewer shall be installed so that it will insure gravity flow at a self-cleaning velocity throughout. If an existing on-site sewage system fails, immediate connection shall be made to a public or community sewerage system if such a system is available.

(a) Any facility that produces a waste stream with BOD5 (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and TSS (total suspended solids) higher than 200 mg/L shall be required to pretreat the waste to reduce the BOD5 and TSS to 200 mg/L or below before disposal through a conventional or chamber septic tank system.

(2) "On-Site Sewage Management System Construction Permit Required" - No person may begin the physical development of a lot or structure thereon, where an on-site sewage management system will be utilized, nor install an on-site sewage management system or component thereof without having first applied for and obtained from the County Health Department a construction permit for the installation.

(a) Application for such a construction permit shall be made in writing on forms provided by the County Board of Health. The County Board of Health shall approve or disapprove such application within twenty days after the receipt of a completed application. The application shall include:

1. Name and address of the owner and the applicant, if other than the owner;

2. Location of property;

3. Plans and specifications including location and design of the proposed on-site sewage management system including surface and subsurface drainage and piping;

4. Nature of the facility to be served;

5. Location of all water supplies, geothermal systems, or other utilities and trash pits on or off the lot, which will bear upon the location of the on-site sewage management system;

6. Number of bedrooms in the dwelling, or the number of persons to be served in other types of establishments, or other sewage flow or water usage data;

7. Soil characteristics, including soil types and capabilities, frequency and evaluations of seasonal high groundwater tables, occurrence of rock and other impervious strata;

8. Signature of the owner or agent applying for permit; and

9. Any additional information deemed necessary to determine the suitability of the site.

(b) The County Board of Health may waive submission of part of the information required for the application, provided the Board deems that such information is available from previously submitted subdivision or mobile home park data, or from other sources. The information must be sufficient to make an adequate appraisal of the acceptability of the proposed lot for the installation of an on-site sewage management system.

(c) Repairs, replacement, or additions to existing systems must be permitted and inspected.

(d) Any person preparing to modify a lot for the purpose of obtaining a construction permit for the installation of an on-site sewage management system shall submit plans showing the type and extent of modifications. No modifications shall be carried out prior to the approval of the plans by the County Board of Health. Such approval shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Department's current Manual for On-Site Sewage Management Systems.

(3) "Requirements for On-Site Sewage Management System Construction Permit Issuance or Denial" - On-site sewage management system construction permits shall be issued only after a site inspection by the County Board of Health shows favorable findings relative to absorption rates, soil characteristics, groundwater, rock, and any other factors which would affect the acceptability of the lot. No construction permit for an on-site sewage management system shall be issued prior to the approval of the public water supply system, where a public water supply system is to be utilized. Lot suitability and approval is to be determined by the criteria established by the Department's current Manual for On-Site Sewage Management Systems.

Lots shall be sized according to the regulations of the County Board of Health. The County Board of Health may deny or revoke an on-site sewage management system construction permit upon finding the lot unsuitable or for failure of the applicant to comply with the provisions of these rules. Such denial shall be made in accordance with the provisions of O.C.G.A. 12-8-1, 31-5-2, 31-5-3, 31-5-4, 31-5-5 and 31-5-6. On-site sewage management construction permits shall remain valid for not more than twelve (12) months from the date of issue.

(a) Issuance of a construction permit for an on-site sewage management system, and subsequent approval of same by representatives of the County Board of Health shall not be construed as a guarantee that such systems will function satisfactorily for a given period of time; furthermore, said representatives do not, by any action taken in affecting compliance with these rules, assume any liability for damages which are caused, or which may be caused, by the malfunction of such system.

(b) On tracts or parcels of land of three acres or more, the conventional or chamber septic tank system may be utilized where the percolation rate does not exceed 120 minutes per inch. All other conditions must comply with the requirements of the regulations for onsite sewage management systems.

(4) "Inspections" - No person may backfill or use an on-site sewage management system until final inspection has been made by the County Board of Health to determine compliance with the provisions of the construction permit issued under Section 290-5-26-.03(3) and written approval has been issued by the County Board of Health.

(a) A copy of the final inspection of an on-site sewage management system shall be provided to the owner, builder, developer or agent, whichever is appropriate.

(b) Grading, filling, digging trash pits or other landscaping or construction activities on the lot subsequent to final inspection by the County Board of Health which may adversely affect the on-site sewage management system shall render the approval void. Removal or alteration of system components after final inspection by the County Board of Health shall render the approval void.

(5) "Design Limits for Conventional or Chamber Septic Tank Systems" - To provide for the maintenance of sanitary conditions through the proper functioning of a conventional or chamber septic tank system for a reasonable period of time, no such system may be installed, constructed, or used, having a septic tank design capacity of less than one thousand (1000) gallons or greater than ten thousand (10,000) gallons, or where the total length of absorption trenches required would exceed three thousand (3,000) linear feet, or where the total absorption trench bottom area required would exceed nine thousand (9,000) square feet.

(6) "Submission of Plans, Specifications, and Soil Data" - Plans, specifications, soil data and, if required, absorption test data, submitted to the County Board of Health for the purpose of obtaining a construction permit to install an on-site sewage management system, which will produce a sewage flow in excess of two thousand (2,000) gallons per day, shall bear the registration number and signature of a Registered Professional Engineer, certified and registered under the laws of this State. The County Board of Health may accept plans, specifications, soil data, and absorption test data for facilities with sewage flow of two thousand (2,000) gallons or less per day, when prepared in accordance with these rules, from any person who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the County Board of Health that they have sufficient knowledge of on-site sewage management system design.

(7) "Soil Data Acceptability for Individual Lots" - Soil evaluations shall be conducted by individuals meeting the requirements established in the Department's current Manual for On-Site Sewage Management Systems.

(8) "Soil Data or Design Certification required".

The soil classifier, engineer, geologist or other professional approved by the Department shall be required to attach to any soil evaluation submitted to the county board of health a copy of a current in force liability insurance certificate with limits of liability of no less than one million dollars.

Soil evaluation reports submitted in compliance with the requirements established by the Soil Survey Report Checklist in Section C of the Department's Manual shall be deemed sufficient and shall be accepted. The county board of health shall issue on-site sewage management system permits on sites deemed suitable by soil evaluations conducted in accordance with requirements established by the checklist in Section C of the Department Manual. In the event that the county board of health finds that the soil evaluation is deficient, it shall notify the person or entity that submitted the evaluation in writing by mail within 3 business days stating all deficiencies and all measures needed to correct deficiencies.

Engineer designs submitted in compliance with the requirements established by the Engineered Site Plan Checklist in Section F of the Department's Manual and submitted with a copy of current in force liability insurance certificate with limits of liability of no less than one million dollars shall be accepted by the county board of health. Engineer designs shall be evaluated within 20 days of submission and a written determination of said evaluation shall be mailed to the submitter within 3 business days of the findings by the county board of health. If the engineer design is rejected, the county board of health shall so notify the submitter listing the deficiencies found, the measures needed to correct the deficiencies and of the submitter's right to appeal the county's decision.

(9) "On-Site Sewage Management System Notice required".

In the event an on-site sewage management system, alternative system or soil fill installation is installed, notice shall be delivered to the owner of such property and in the event of new construction homes or commercial buildings, notice must be delivered to new owner, by the homebuilder/contractor, at the time of conveyance on such property stating the type of installation, design and maintenance needs.

Authority O.C.G.A. Secs. 12-8-1, 31-2-1, 31-2-2, 31-2-4, 31-2-7. History. Original Rule entitled "Sewers" was f. Dec. 1, 1969 as 270-5-25-.03; eff. Dec. 20, 1969. Amended: Rule renumbered as 290-5-26-.03. F. June 10, 1980; eff. June 30, 1980. Repealed: New Rule entitled "General Provisions" adopted. F. Mar. 28, 1984; eff. Apr. 27, 1984, as specified by the Agency. Amended: ER. 290-5-26-0.13-.03 adopted. F. Sept. 18, 1997; eff. Sept. 17, 1997, the date of adoption. Amended: ER. 290-5-26-0.14-.03 adopted. F. Jan. 2, 1998; eff. Jan. 15, 1998, as specified by the Agency. Amended: Permanent Rule adopted. F. Jan. 23, 1998; eff. Feb. 20, 1998, as specified by the Agency. Repealed: New Rule, same title adopted. F. Apr. 25, 2001; eff. May 15, 2001. Amended: F. Jan. 19, 2007; eff. Feb. 8, 2007.

<General Materials (GM) - References, Annotations, or Tables>
GA COMP. R. & REGS. § 290-5-26-.03, GA ADC 290-5-26-.03

GA ADC 290-5-26-.03

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

mudcat's picture

Sure Don. we get it. We have a zoning ordinance. We can also see that you can copy and paste. Great skills.

So then why don't you respond to Morgan's question which is why not plan ahead instead of the chest thumping? Anyone else on council think that planning ahead might be a good idea? Or are you all 4 all in with Donnie on this one - vote no, hide behind the zoning ordinance and put your head in the sand and wait to get sued. Come on people, we elected you to prevent this sort of crap.
Remember, no one is seriously asking for rezoning or annexation or sewer extension here. All that is being asked is to consider developing a plan to be proactive on future requests about how to use our excess sewer capacity. How can any one be against that? Eric? Kim? George? Vanessa?

Don Haddix's picture

How is it going with the Chamber on sponsoring Untie Atlanta?

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

mudcat's picture

and I am not active in the Chamber - assuming you mean the local Chamber of Commerce. Not sure why you pose that question instead of answering mine, but you do have a funny way of communicating.

I think it is time for lunch with the ladies and I will see if Kim and Vanessa are interested in the city planning for the future. I know they are, but whether or not they would vote to encourage the sewer analysis (which is not sewer expansion, nor is it annexation, it isn't even zoning) that Morgan keeps on about. I can see he is getting nowhere with you, so he's moving on to other things. Come to think of it, this is an issue that should have been brought before council by the city manager or the water and sewer authority. How come that hasn't happened. Surely they don't think your negative comments are the last word.

Don Haddix's picture

http:// www.thecitizen.com/articles/12-02-2009/commissioner-horgan-should-be-rem...

Morgan was answered.

You are running away from the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce issues where you made a clear cut declaration.

You just like to stir up mud for your agenda.

Remember, some of the members of Direct Pac created this whole WASA mess. Do not try to blame later Councils for their mistakes.

We have to deal with what is proposed to us, not what we want to tell people to bring to us.

Nor does a plan bind any Council. Just look at some of the rezoning and annexations that have taken place in the past. Totally out of step with the Land Use Plan.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Mike King's picture

Stop clouding the issue with dribble. The city's sewer system was purchased for some thirteen million of PTC taxpayer dollars while its true worth was substantially less and while needing substantial upgrades. It belongs to your constituency plain and simple.

As such, Council has the say so regarding expansion and the like, and we can hold you responsible. On the other hand, WASA has to obtain Council approval prior to expansion and the like because their board members are not directly responsible to the public. If granted blanket expansion authority WASA could conceivably run wild with a public utility, which is why Council should retain its up or down approval authority for specific individual requests.

Stop blaming others and get your head out of your fourth point of contact.

Don Haddix's picture

The sewer system was sold to the authority in 1996. PTC does not own it. The constituents do not own it. WASA owns it.

Council only has veto rights over expansion outside the City as long as the City is backing the bonds. If they pay off the Council backed bonds from 2002 and 2005 they have no restriction.

It is being worked on.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Read carefully, no one said anything about zoning someone else's land. Specifically, I said "(by expanding the existing and use plan) - whether it is inside or outside the city?". Now I realize it would be better if I had included the letter "L" so it actually read "Land use plan", but stuff happens.

If you assign a use and a density under the land use plan, you do not need anyone's permission. But if your are upfront about your wishes for a certain piece of property ahead of time, then when it is sold to a developer - everyone is informed properly ahead of time. They know what uses the city expects and everyone (including WASA) knows how much sewer capacity can be used on that particular parcel. Far better than reacting to proposals one by one. It is simply being prepared. Does that not make sense? George! Help me out here.

If you go through this planning exercise and make it part of the land use plan, your veto power becomes irrelevant and you can let the bond refinancing go ahead and save us all a ton of money. In fact, you will have had more input and control (and power) than you would have had with a veto.

Live free or die!

Would you mind shedding light on the story behind the sewer system acquisition? Is Mayor Haddix correct when he says PTC does not own the PTC WASA?


NUK_1's picture

WASA was formed for the purpose of purchasing the water/sewer from Georgia Utilities(Steve Black/Doug Mitchell). WASA issued bonds to finance the purchase. When they did an expansion and capital improvements, more bonds were issued that are also backed by the PTC taxpayers in guaranteeing the repayment of said bonds.

I will confirm that. We have some leverage, but no ownership.

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