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County seeks better water deal
Citys offer to expire soon
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Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County commission wants more time to consider a water contract with the city of Cumming that could last until 2032.

Talk during a work session Tuesday centered around the most recent water proposal from the city, which will expire Dec. 18. The current agreement ends in 2012.

The proposed 20-year contract renewal may be a longer commitment than the county wants, particularly given its hopes of finding an alternate water source.

The commission decided that with other budget issues and the need to counter offer, they’re not ready to sign on the dotted line.

Commissioners agreed 5-0 to revisit a counter offer at a work session in January.

Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse suggested that the offer ask for a five-year-contract.

“It’s pay today for something we don’t have and may never have,” Laughinghouse said.

In its proposal, Cumming has asked the county to pay about 65 percent up front of the cost of the city’s new raw water intake facility at Lake Lanier, which has a potential intake of 105 million gallons of water per day.

The county would then have access to 68 million gallons per day of the possible total. It currently is permitted to take in a maximum of 32 million gallons per day.

The city is also asking the county to pay for a new 72-inch raw water line, specifically designated for county use.

Forsyth, which does not have a permit to pull water from the lake, gets most if not all of its water from Cumming.

This is the second proposal from the city after meetings with county representatives.

The city made a concession by freezing the cost of water to the county for the next five years instead of basing prices on the changing consumer price index.

The commission leaned toward asking for a prorated cost of the new water pipe built exclusively for the county, based on the actual water intake.

Commissioners opted to write a letter to the city asking for an extension of the current proposal and explaining that the county will draft a counter offer, which is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

The commission also discussed asking for a lower rate for treated water for the county, which currently pays more than the city.

Water rates are on a tiered schedule, but the lowest rate for city customers is $1.65 per thousand gallons.

For those who receive water from the city through the county, it’s $3.40 per thousand gallons.

Commissioner Brian Tam said that while the commission has been committed to finding a different water source, time is an issue. It will need to come to an agreement with the city.

“There is no way that within 30 months that we have any source that is going to replace that,” Tam said.

The county’s looming budget issues scheduled for Tuesday were postponed to a special called meeting set for 2 p.m. Monday.