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County commission hears revised fire hydrant price proposal
Seven hydrants proposed off Kilough Church Road
Fire hydrant
Etowah Water and Sewer Authority has offered the county a price for fire hydrants that could be installed off Kilough Church Road this year. - photo by Christine Miller


The Dawson County Board of Commissioners could vote next week on a proposal that would bring fire hydrants to an area of the county with inadequate fire protection.

Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford, at the board’s Aug. 24 work session, presented a price proposal for fire hydrants from the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, which is preparing to upgrade water lines on Kilough Church Road this year.

According to Swafford, the authority has bid out the cost to upsize the lines, as well as the cost for seven hydrants and has come back with a unit price of $3,965 for each hydrant, which they are asking the county to cover.

The total cost to the county for the hydrants would be $27,755, and could come from the county’s general contingency fund, Swafford said.

The next EWSA board meeting will be Sept. 12, at which point they will need to know if they should award the entire bid contract for the water lines or if they should deduct the hydrants.

The Kilough Church Road upgrade is part of the EWSA’s long term plan to upsize water lines in certain areas of the county.

Swafford said that the proposal comes with no intergovernmental agreement, no contract, no connection fees, line upsizing fees or administrative fees, which the commission objected to in a similar proposal last year.

In May 2016 the commission voted against a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the EWSA in which the authority would install 12-inch water lines along Nix Bridge and Kilough Church roads if the county would pay $5,000 each for hydrants and sign a 25-year contract with the water authority.

District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby made a motion April 7, 2016 to counter the proposal with a $3,500 per hydrant cost and a five-year contract, stating he was not comfortable holding the county to a long-term deal that he described as "writing the authority a blank check."

"That's basically what they're asking us to do. That's not what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to get a bid and be nailed down what we are paying. That's how we do everything else," he said.

Commissioners Julie Hughes Nix, district 4, and Sharon Fausett, district 1, voted in favor of Hamby’s proposal, with then-District 2 Commissioner James Swafford voting against.

Etowah responded with a few tweaks to the authority's original proposal, but did not accept the county's negotiation.

EWSA General Manager Brooke Anderson said Monday that the authority is currently installing 12 inch lines on Nix Bridge Road, but that no tees or valves were installed for fire hydrants.

Swafford said in his presentation that he would like to remind the commissioners that there are 11 other locations in the county that are currently ready for hydrants to be installed.

“I brought that to your attention about a year ago I believe that those individuals in those areas have still requested fire hydrants to be installed,” Swafford said. “I’m not here before you requesting money for that project, but we did go ahead and find out what the unit price would be to go ahead and stud those hydrants on existing lines, and it came in $40 cheaper than the new installation at $3,925.”

Anderson said there could be other opportunities on Nix Bridge Road for fire hydrants if the commission approves those additional hydrants.

In other business:

Budget hearing

The board also held the second of three public hearings for the 2018 proposed budget, during which no one came forward to speak.

The next budget hearing will be held Sept. 7 during the regular voting session starting at 6 p.m. in the Dawson County Government Center. The commission could vote as early as Sept. 21 to adopt the budget.

Commissioners Compensation Committee

The board also acknowledged three people who have been selected to form the commissioner’s compensation committee as requested by Nix in July. The three are Bill Johnson, Tara Hardwick and Tony Passarello.

The board voted July 6 to have County Manager David Headley, Human Resources Director and County Clerk Danielle Yarbrough and County Attorney Lynn Frey establish a committee of citizens to review the commission's compensation for potential changes.

According to county ordinances, the commission "shall review its compensation levels every four years, approximately 18 months before the general election in which the commission chair is elected." According to Chairman Billy Thurmond, the board's compensation has not been reviewed since 2005.

If the commission votes to decrease compensation, it would go into effect immediately. Any increases would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019.