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City looks to revise water deal
Would like to serve all of its residents
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Dawsonville council members are contemplating service delivery changes that could impact residents in the outlying areas of the city.

During a special called work session April 24, the city council heard presentations from representatives of Merchant Capital and Kidwell and Co. on bond and loan refinancing for water and sewer infrastructure.

The presentations signaled the start of the city's efforts to expand its water and sewer coverage area.

"We want the ability to service the customers that are in the city, no matter where they are," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan. "We should be able to furnish sewer and water to all of our citizens."

The city currently has a year-to-year agreement with the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority to provide services to residents it can't reach.

"The current agreement with Etowah provides a sewer service area delineated by contract that has no effective or termination date. By law, this means that it is terminable be either party, providing reasonable notice," City Attorney Dana Miles explained during the meeting.

"Parts of the city limits are not within the service area. We have portions of Dawsonville that you are not authorized to serve."

According to Grogan, the contract was set up in accordance with a law that forbids municipalities from signing lengthy agreements that would bind future mayors and councils.

"The contract was signed in, I think, 1995. There was no beginning or end dates to it," Grogan said. "The contract this year hasn't been renewed for some reason."

As it stands, the arrangement does not allow Dawsonville to serve areas outside of the agreed upon zone.

"The only way to service those areas is to provide Etowah with a notice to terminate the agreement," Miles said. "If you terminated the agreement, pursuant to state law, you have the pre-emptive right to survey areas within the city limits."

During a previous work session, Miles outlined two paths officials could take to achieve the aim.

The first, he said, calls for the city to "terminate the agreement with Etowah and explain to them that you desire to service city residents that are outside the area. You would then be entitled to provide service to them."

According to Miles, the second possibility has proved less popular with Etowah in the past.

"The other option is to negotiate with Etowah a new service area that includes all of the city limits. Previous attempts to do that have been met with resistance," he said.

"I don't know if that would be the case today, with the current Etowah board of directors, but past attempts have been met with reluctance from Etowah's general management."

But Brooke Anderson, Etowah's general manager, said this is the first attempt by the city to deviate from the yearly agreement.

"We have not been contacted by the city about this matter," he said. "We are content with the contract we have and we expect the city would follow the terms of the contract."

While still in the planning stages, possible new infrastructure is simply planning for the city's future growth, according to Grogan.

"Right now, our focus has been on the west side of the county, because of potential things that could be happening in that area," he said. "That doesn't mean we couldn't change that process, but it depends strictly on what businesses show up and what is required to get them going.

"We're not planning on running lines just to run lines."