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County firms up proposal on water
Existing contracts expire Saturday
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also during their meeting Thursday, Forsyth county commissioners:

• Offered no objection to the city of Cumming’s proposed annexation of a 1.15-acre parcel on Sanders Road. The property has been proposed for an office use once in the city limits.

• Approved setback and lot width variances for D.R. Horton in the Saybrook subdivision on Delo Lane. Construction is planned to start again soon in the stalled development.

• Granted a rezoning from agricultural to commercial for Jerry “Smokie” Ingram with variances on buffers and setbacks to bring a Spot Road business into compliance with the county’s code.

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

With about a week until the current agreement expires, Forsyth County commissioners decided Thursday to resubmit a previous water contract offer as binding to the city of Cumming.

The commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner Pete Amos recused, to send the formerly nonbinding offer, with one additional condition.

Tuesday, the Cumming City Council rejected the offer, citing its nonbinding status as one of the reasons. A binding agreement gives the city final approval if accepted as presented.

During a May 9 work session, the commission did not muster the four votes required to officially propose the intergovernmental agreement.

The fifth commissioner, Amos, has recused himself from all votes and discussion on this matter, citing a conflict of interest. He’s an owner in A&A Water Company, which buys and resells county and city water.

Only three votes are needed to send such an agreement after a public hearing, of which the next available date was June 7.

The current contracts expire this coming Saturday.

The city has a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw water from Lake Lanier, but the county does not.

The county buys most of its untreated water from Cumming, as well as some treated water.

Chairman Jim Boff’s vote Thursday allowed the latest proposal to be sent over as a binding offer, with his added condition that the county has no obligation to pay an invoice from the city for its share of a water intake.

The city, according to the proposal, would also withdraw the bill for about $11.4 million.

Boff, who opposed the offer May 9, said after Thursday’s meeting that he voted in favor this time due to the added condition and to continue working toward an acceptable agreement.

“If we could make it binding, which was one of [Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt’s] objections was that it was nonbinding, then it makes sense to me to keep the discussions going,” he said.

With about a week until the contracts expire, Boff said he wasn’t sure what to expect in the final days.

The offer from the county requires a purchase from the city of 1.2 billion gallons of treated water per year at a price of $2.25 per 1,000 gallons, upping the minimum required purchase from a previous county proposal.

The contract would be for five years at a fixed rate, with a five-year option to renew, at which time the cost would be adjusted for the consumer price index, or CPI.

Under the current contract, Forsyth County pays about $2.43 per 1,000 gallons, which is subject to the price index.

As for untreated water, the county’s proposal suggests a 15-year contract, with a county option to renew for another 15.

A previous county offer requested 50 years at the current rate of about 10 cents per 1,000 gallons.

The cost of this proposal would be 30 cents per 1,000 gallons in the first term, adjusted to CPI. If renewed, the cost would reset at 20 cents per 1,000 gallons.

The proposed contract anticipates Forsyth would receive at least 65 percent of any future withdrawals permitted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

The proposal also would require the city to work with the county on seeking an increase in those withdrawals to meet future water needs.