Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan told the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority he believes the current agreement between the city and the authority puts the city in a box.
Officials from the city and the authority met at City Hall Thursday to discuss a proposal from Grogan to amend a 40-year agreement that has been in effect since Sept. 5, 1989.
The agreement was drafted because the city was unable to provide water and sewer to all of its residents, and the authority was looking to expand its facilities.
I took the proposal and presented it to the board and we discussed it, said Etowah Water Board Chair Jim King. We dont see a valid reason to change it.
In the newly proposed agreement, the city says it wants to be able to bill and service everyone within the city limits, including annexed properties. The city currently serves customers within Perimeter Road. Etowah serves properties in the county and properties that are annexed into the city.
We want to be able to serve whats within the city limits and you handle the county, Grogan said. Now theres areas where youre closer to a particular customer than we are, and OK, you serve it, we bill it. Again, we want to serve what is our base our city and thats basically what youve written out.
The proposed agreement, sent to Etowah in July, says the city wants to service any customers who are annexed into the city limits. But Grogan says that Etowah and the county shouldnt worry about the citys attempting to annex more properties.
The fear is we are going to start annexing the county and thats not the issue, he said. I know theres a fear thats going to happen, and thats not it at all.
Dawsonville City Attorney Dana Miles said an example of what the city would like to see from the agreement is this: If there is an undeveloped area within the city limits that suddenly is developed into a subdivision, the city wants to service and bill it, even though its now within Etowahs service area.
What youre saying to us (based on the current agreement) is that you want all the future growth even if its within the city limitseven if Etowah has zero customers there and doesnt have a line there, Miles said.
Youre trying to put us in this box and forcing us to work within this box, Grogan said.
King countered that the city is already in a box.
I guess youre trying to say were forcing you into a box, but in our opinion, youre already in a box based on our existing agreement, he said. But the agreement has a clause that if you outgrow your box, you reach a certain threshold, you can expand outside your box. But you havent reached that yet. Youre still taking up one corner of the box and you want another box.
Etowah Manager Brooke Anderson said the authority has infrastructure and a 30-year plan in place based on the current agreement. Amending the agreement could mean losing investments already made.
We have to have a defined target; the city limits are an ever-moving target. Anderson said. What youre describing when we make an investment in a service area, then weve lost that investment to serve that area. Thats difficult. Thats difficult when were willing and have made that investment.
Etowah Attorney Linda Dunlavy agreed. It makes it extremely difficult for Etowah to plan, she said.
Again, I keep using this reference to the box, Grogan said. But we were looking at an opportunity to run a sewer line to the motorsports park, and I know that you (Etowah) opposed that with the GMRC. Thats within the city limits; we felt like we should be able to do that. Were not going to give up on that; were going to pursue that still. And thats the box were put in. Were supposed to sit here and allow our city to not have growth or any opportunity for growth. How are we able to grow?
Depends on your definition of growth, Anderson said. If youre looking at commercial, industrial growth that provides jobs and things of that nature to citizens of the city, you can have all that growth. If youre talking about growth of water and sewer, were trying to follow in an agreement and territory certainly for the last seven years we have done (it) and even prior to that.
Dunlavy, King and Anderson said they would be willing to discuss with the Etowah board amending the billing process so that all city customers would receive a bill from the city. Currently, city customers served by Etowah receive a bill from the authority.
After the meeting, Grogan said he had hoped the Authority would have brought a counter-proposal to the discussion. Hopefully, they will get back to us. Well give them an adequate amount of time, and if we dont hear from them, well suggest another meeting.