The county industrial authority agreed Monday to have IDA executive director Marvin White and utility director Steve Shaw negotiate a satisfactory payment plan for an $8,551 water bill owed to the IDA by the city of Danielsville.
The city recently offered to pay $100 per month on the bill for the time being, citing their ongoing financial crisis due to the alleged theft of funds by their former city clerk. (The city council has stated that they hope to recoup the funds through an insurance bond once an investigation into the crime is complete.)
IDA members said a payment plan was possible, but that $100 per month was not a sufficient amount.
Shaw told the board that the Danielsville City Council had been quoted in The Madison County Journal as saying they were charged the $8,551 for two days’ worth of water. (The article, which appeared in the Nov. 27 edition of the Journal, actually stated: “The council also discussed a $8,551 water bill from the county’s industrial authority for one week’s worth of water used by the city during a recent water tank cleaning.”)
Shaw said the charge was correct, but disputed the time period, saying the city was on the IDA’s water system for four to 4.5 weeks while their city tank was refurbished and painted inside, and that during that time the city’s customers used 2,443,207 gallons of water.
Shaw said the city was charged according to an intergovernmental contract between the IDA and the city which calls for a $3.50 charge per 1,000 gallons used.
IDA members pointed out that the city had made money from their water customers during this period, while avoiding chemical and power bill charges since their tank was not in service.
Shaw said after the meeting that Danielsville and the IDA had “exchanged water” without charging each other in the past during routine tank cleanings, as the city has stated, but that a routine cleaning typically takes only a day or two to complete.
Chairman-elect Anthony Dove told the authority that he could get involved in the matter after he takes office in January to help resolve the situation.
“I don’t want to see a war started,” Dove said, adding that he thinks it’s a matter of communication. “I think we can all do better at public relations,” he said.
In a separate matter, the IDA plans to contact a collection agency to assist them in collecting approximately $14,000 in unpaid water usage fees. White told the board that the fees were those that had accumulated since the county began its own water service.
The board also held a budget hearing Monday night, receiving no public input. White said the 2009 budget calls for a marginal $5,187 budget increase, equivalent to a .008 increase in the overall budget, the smallest increase so far.
A second budget hearing is planned for Monday, Dec. 22, at 10 a.m., after which the IDA will move to adopt the budget and set the millage rate at .926.
In another matter, the IDA voted to provide water to the new Columbia Farms feed mill, now under construction on Hwy. 72, just east of Comer. In return, Columbia has agreed to deed land to the Authority for a well site. White said Columbia projects a water usage of 15,000 gallons per day once they are in operation next year.
In other business, White reported that progress continues to be made on the Hull-Sanford sewer project. White said the IDA has made a commitment to Ingles and the veteran’s clinic that the sewer system will be on line by next summer.
Shaw reported that the water department billed 597 customers in November who used a total of 2.89 million gallons of water.
After weeks of waiting, a blasting permit was finally issued by the D.O.T. Shaw said, allowing waterline installation to resume along Hwy. 29 South.
Site preparation for the Hwy. 98 water tank is underway, Shaw told the board, adding that a work crew will begin dismantling the tank from its current location in Jackson County this week. He said the tank should be up and ready for painting by March 1 and in service next spring.