By Pat Cooper
Peachtree City councilman Eric Imker just wanted to keep it as simple as possible - yes, the city will back the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authorities bond refinancing which could save rate payers about a half million dollars, as long as the council has the final word on any requests to extend the sewer system outside the confines of the city.
At its monthly meeting, WASA discussed options for handling the refinance of the 2002 and 2005 bond series. They were originally issued with the backing of the city, which allowed WASA to secure a lower rate due to a better credit rating.
When they came before council, they indicated WASA had no intention of opening the boundaries outside the city and had gone went a vote to refinance was because they hadn’t heard anything from the city.
Imker pointed out that the city’s bond counsel had run the numbers for them already and he didn’t have a problem with saving ratepayers a half million dollars if WASA was willing to agree to the caveat of not going outside the city limits. More than that, he recommended putting a 50-year limit on the agreement, this way future councils and WASA boards wouldn’t have to deal with it.
The decision was put on hold until last week.
City attorney Ted Meeker asked the board to delay the vote since there were some issues with the intergovernmental agreement.
“We don’t have a true agreement
yet but the council is free to take whatever action it deems necessary.”
Line Creek Association president and local environmentalist Dennis Chase said he had a few things to point out regarding WASA and the agreement to confine the city’s sewer system to the city’s borders.
Chase pointed out that when WASA applied for its discharge permit under the federal governments Clean Water act, it was ‘emphatic it had the exact amount needed for Peachtree City, or what would be in place with the West Village annexation and any potential work in the city’s industrial area.
“They had capacity to treat homes on line yet. And the EPA insists on a 15 percent overage to be held in reserve. They have what they needed.”
Chase also said that in the second part of the discharge permit process WASA had
to submit an impact analysis, both upstream and downstream if there were plans to extend outside the city.
“They refused. It was just Peachtree City - only Peachtree City. The permit is exactly what they needed to service the city, so if they do try to go outside the limits of the city, they are technically in violation of the discharge permit. You can ask for a revision for potential annexation areas and you can ask them to renew the permit but you would have to go back to the state and the EPA and do an impact analysis for the area.”
Mayor Don Haddix said the subject of expansion outside the city borders had been controversial for some time and that, from the time of WASA’s inception, there were no plans to extend sewer service outside the city.
“After the last meeting, Harman and I sat down and I told him I liked the 50-year proposal idea on the table and he said he didn’t have a problem with it. I’m not going to bog this down. I still like the 50-year part.”
Councilmember Kim Learnard said there were lots of ‘good’ points in what Haddix said.
“I think it’s possible to make a brief, clear message. They have been waiting on this since August and I think they just want to know if the council would be willing to back the bonds.. with this stipulation. I think we can do that. The council still has control.”
Learnard said the bottom line was really that the city’s bond rating was higher than WASA’s and there would be a significant saving for ratepayers.