The Union Recorder

February 6, 2013

County water projects move forward

The Union-Recorder


The Baldwin County Board of Commissioners voted to accept the current bid for a 2 million gallon ground storage tank and booster pump station on Hopewell Church Road. 

The county was previously awarded a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for multiple improvement projects. The $5.2 million loan has a 3 percent interest rate with $500,000 of debt forgiveness if all funds are drawn.

Projects also include construction of a 750,000 gallon elevated storage tank and water mains on Highway 212 as well as a new Gerald Harris booster pump station.

The GEFA contract taps into county funds April 10. 

Henry Craig, District 4, voted against the bid Tuesday. Craig wanted a pause for more dialogue with the City of Milledgeville concerning its capacity to meet the county's south side water needs.

After last week's work session, county consulting engineer Tim Ingram agreed to draft a cost comparison between paying the fixed cost associated with the Sinclair Water Authority (SWA) and buying water from the city at a $1.43 rate per 1,000 gallons against continuing to purchase SWA water, paying the fixed financing costs at the SWA plant and paying GEFA debt on the current project.

Summaries of the figures put the costs associated with city water at $2.77 per 1,000 gallons and moving forward as planned with SWA and GEFA loan at $1.90.

Ingram said the water project improvements at Highway 212 and Gerald Harris are needed regardless of the provider. The ground storage tank provides a constant volume.

Craig wanted the county to consult city engineers to accurately establish their water capabilities and rate offered.

“The assumption is the city doesn't already have the infrastructure in place. We haven't even asked the city,” Craig said.

The county purchased city water at a $1.40 rate from July 29, 2011 to Feb. 29, 2012. City manager Barry Jarrett said the city sold water to the county until the SWA plant was built and the contract expired.

In the past, the city ran water to the south side of the county split off Swint Avenue. The city could easily provide for Baldwin and would again, according to Jarrett.

The city is permitted for up to 12.4 million treated gallons a day. Even with the proposed added feed to the county's south side, Jarrett said they could meet the demand.

Tommy French, District 2, said buying water from the city wouldn't solve the infrastructure issues in parts of the county.

Sammy Hall, District 3, said there could never be too much water storage especially in the southern part of the county.

“The city has a system and the county has a system. They are not intertwined,” Hall said. “People talk about merging. Well if we merge, it's to everybody's advantage because it will then be storage the whole community has.”

Craig mentioned the taxpayers would pay for the loan through their water bills.

French said the county would lose its cost effectiveness by not moving forward with the loan and contracting for city water.

“Even if there was an agreement, who is going to take the impact? We have to bite all the costs,” French said. “If something breaks down, we will have to come out of pocket at the last minute to fix that affects 65 percent of the county.”