By Josh Akeman
The Peachtree City Council will vote on a budget amendment that shifts $100,000 in cash reserves to another fund for ongoing expenses associated with Lake Peachtree.
A memo said staff "has set up a project to track fees associated with the analysis of the effects of a hypothetical breach, as well as the design/engineering, construction and legal fees for this project."
Betsy Tyler, Public Information Officer for the city, confirmed with Finance Director Paul Salvatore that roughly $50,000 of the $100,000 is expected to go to pending legal fees and the dam breach analysis. The rest, she said, is "a contingency for whatever may come up over the next two months," until the end of the city's fiscal year.
Tyler said any remainder from the funding will roll over to the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and, if it is not spent on Lake Peachtree, will be returned to the General Fund.
City leadership agreed to appeal the state's ruling that the Lake Peachtree dam, which is in need of repair, should be a Category 1 dam, which carries the likelihood of much more costly and extensive repairs. The decision to appeal was made in mid-July and required a dam breach analysis to be done.
The decision was made to hire Integrated Science & Engineering and Schnabel Engineering to conduct the study. The county was prepared to work with CH2M Hill and Golder on the study and was offering to pay $41,000 of the cost, leaving the city to pay $24,000.
City leadership decided to go with their own engineering firm, however, which meant the city will pay the full cost of $37,000.
Adding to the city's costs was the decision to hire legal counsel specially for the Lake Peachtree issue. There is some tricky contract language between the county and city as to who is responsible for eventual repairs to the dam. The city hired Andy Welch of Smith Welch Webb & White as special counsel for the matter.
The outcome of the dam breach analysis could have substantial effect on the cost of repairs. County Administrator Steve Rapson, in talking to his staff, estimated a Category 1 repair could end up costing around $5 million. If the appeal is successful and the dam remains Category 2, then he said the repairs could be more like $1 million or as low as $500,000.
In the meantime, the county is expected to begin dry dredging the lake in January 2015. That is expected to take until May to complete.
County Chairman Steve Brown has said several times that the Lake Peachtree situation is going to "require some patience," on the part of everyone that would like to see one of the county's nicest amenities restored.