Water Board: Improvements, Late Fee Adjustments Pending

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The Pickens County Water authority is seeking a new policy regarding seniors and/or persons on fixed incomes policy regarding late fees.As stands, late fees begin accruing after the 15th of the month but citizens dependent on social security get their checks near the end of the month. To avert an ongoing problem, the board wants to explore avenues to extend the late fee period for those persons.

The board made recommendation to present the problem to the Board of Commissioners at their next meeting, Thursday, September 19, so county attorney Phil Landrum may be given a go-ahead to research legality and come up with a proposal. Once that is completed, the Water Authority will look over the proposal and if amenable, the Board of Commissioners will have to adopt the policy before it becomes a part of the bylaws.

The area of Jerusalem Church Road/Hill City Road/Henderson Mountain Road was another discussion as continual water problems plague the area. Earlier this month, Utility Director Larry Coleman approached the Board of Commissioners about the possibility of putting in a larger line in a different area to combat the problem.

Originally the road (between Highway 53 and Hill City Road) was a state road and right of way dictated the line had to be 50 feet from the road. Now that the road is county, they can, at their discretion, move the line to run beside the road. The current problem is the pipe runs through a low-lying area and a corn field. When the area is farmed it creates problems with the buried line. If it were moved to the more immediate road area this should be absolved and access will also improve. He recounted 45 major leaks in the past 15 years and estimated a cost of $1000 per repair.

To repair that section alone, $91,000 is what Coleman asked of the BOC. That estimate is using Pickens County Water Department employees to make the needed improvements. As the requested tax revenue for the project should start coming in around November, they are working to word a resolution to present to the BOC beforehand.

County Chief Financial Officer Faye Harvey gave a financial report stating the revenues ($1,279,749) and expenditures ($1,130,102) budgets look good. The water department showed a $149,646 profit. While that is good news, the outstanding loans to the USDA and GEFA (Georgia Environmental Financial Authority) continue to cause concern for the department.

Harvey stated that while there are no options for change with the USDA loans, there are options to refinance the GEFA loans by consolidating them for a better finance rate. Whether that is viable in the long-term remains to be seen. They are continuing to explore possible refinancing and seeking answers to get the water department to a financially solvent state where they can become a stand-alone entity.

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