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Lawyer: Conflict of interest in water deal
Says Amos should recuse himself
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Forsyth County News

 

A Forsyth County resident has said he will take legal action if one of the county commissioners votes on the county’s water contracts with the city of Cumming.

Joe Moses, who serves on the county’s planning commission, said Commissioner Pete Amos’ A & A Water Company, which buys and resells county and city water to customers, presents a conflict of interest in negotiating the intergovernmental water contracts.

“It’s a direct conflict of interest in voting on a contract that’s going to affect the cost of what he’s going to have to pay for water in his business in order to resell it,” Moses said. “What he charges his customers or his profit level is ultimately determined by the contracts.”

Moses introduced attorney Frank Jenkins to address the issue during the public comments section of Thursday’s commission meeting.

“A private citizen of the county has a right to contest a vote or an issue in which any commissioner has a conflict of interest,” Jenkins said. “We have a right to sue, which is what we’re going to do, if necessary.”

If a court agrees, he said, it could “reverse or nullify” a decision of the board.

Amos said at the meeting that he does not believe he has a conflict of interest and has no plans to recuse himself from the vote.

“My company is simply a water customer,” he said. “My company gets no special treatment in these purchases.”

He added that recusing himself would mean those in his district would not be represented.

“I can make a fair and impartial decision,” he said.

On Friday, Amos said A & A Water owns the infrastructure that provides water to five older subdivisions, four of which receive water purchased from the county and one from the city.

Tim Perkins, county director of water and sewer, said several private companies provide public water to subdivisions that were once using community well systems.

When the wells became “more problematic,” private entities provided the lines to the homes and resold the water, Perkins said.

Those companies are charged the flat commercial water rate, he said, rather than the tiered residential rates that increase with use.

Moses said his interest in the matter is “not personal.”

“Personally, I like Pete Amos,” he said. “I just believe he should follow the rules and hold himself up to the ethics of the state of Georgia.”