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Etowah offers City $10 million for water facilities
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Etowah Water and Sewer Authority wants to buy out the city of Dawsonvilles water and sewer facilities.

The authority offered the city $10,000,000 at a negotiation meeting between the two entities Thursday morning. The city and authority were meeting to follow-up on negotiations from a meeting in August in regard to the city and Etowahs 40-year agreement.

If the city were to agree, Etowah offered to pay $4,000,000 at closing of the sale and $200,000 annually for the rest of the payments.

According to a document drafted by Etowah, the authority came up with the offer based upon certain assumptions made concerning profit, expense, and debt service related to these systems. These assumptions include a projected profit from both systems (water and wastewater) in 2013 of $400,000-plus and sale of 72 meters and 72 sewer connections per year.

Etowah Water board Chair Jim King said he thought the proposal would help the city be able to focus on downtown development.

We hear people talking about wanting to do stuff downtown and new downtown redevelopment and everything, King said. And we think, gosh, why wouldnt the city want some cash to do that stuff and let us combine our water and sewer and we provide the services and give them an annual revenue even after that? To our board it sounds like a great idea.

However, the city may not be in a hurry to sell its water facilities.

Obviously it sounds good to yall, Mayor James Grogan said. And it makes me feel good youd want to do that because it makes me know we have something worthwhile and for that reason wed want to hang on to that.

Grogan repeated his desire to hold on to the citys water system at Monday nights city council meeting.

We just told them we are not interested in selling, Grogan said about the meeting. (We want to)take time to review what they had given us, then we will get back to them to let them know where were at.

If the city were to accept the offer, it would not affect the citys proposed Calhoun Creek Reservoir project.

Thursdays meeting was the second meeting held to discuss amending the citys 40-year agreement that began in September 1989. At the first meeting in August, the two organizations outlined three main issues the city wanted to amend in the agreement including billing, refusal of service and the territory service map.

In August, Grogan told Etowah the city wants to bill all water and sewer customers within the city limits.

We have no problem doing that, King said. But he did say there would be issues to resolve including different billing cycles, the cost of manually separating customer billing reports and benefits Etowah has for its customers that the city may not offer.

A possible solution Etowah offered was to take over billing the citys sewer customers, include a city logo on the bill and sending the city a payment each month.

Currently, Etowah serves about 80 customers within the city limits.

Etowah and the city also discussed a right of first refusal of new customers.

Just need a structure set up or standard procedure for how that would take place, King said.

In a document Etowah prepared outlining the proposed amendment issues, it states, should a prospective customer within the city limits but within Etowahs defined service area desire service, that customer must first be directed to Etowah.

The document then goes on to say requests for service would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Etowah also presented the city with a proposed map to outline service territory areas.

The right of first refusal concept would come in to play with the service territory map, another issue the city asked Etowah to amend in the 40-year agreement.

Instead of marking the territory by essentially using a protractor, as Etowah Water Authority General Manager Brooke Anderson said, the authority proposed defining territories by tax parcels.

One territory the authority didnt propose amending was the area near Duck Thurmond Road and Highway 53, surrounding Atlanta Motorsports Park, a location the city has expressed interest in providing service.

Listening to what yall had to say about what makes sense, what we do from our perspective when we were looking at this, the whole motorsports park area is too big of an unknown to define at this moment, Anderson said. We simply dont know what it means. If we look at the right of first refusal concept, thats really where thats going to come in to play.

Although no dates were set, the city and the authority agreed to meet again in the near future.

I think we probably need to talk about it just a little bit, Grogan said but Id say we want to do it sooner than later. I dont want it to continue to drag on forever.