Rate increases for Fannin County Water Authority

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Customers of the Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) were left wondering if their bills would see an increase after the city of Blue Ridge implemented a rate increase for wholesale customers.

The city of Blue Ridge increased their rates by $1.00 per 1,000 gallons of usage in June 2017. This increase affected all city water customers. The city announced recently that their wholesale buyers, FCWA and the city of McCaysville, would see another similar increase in 2018.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, McCaysville, Fannin County Water Authority, Rate Increase, Chairwoman Anita Weaver, Vice Chairman Larry Chapman, Zack ratcliff, David Falls, Angie Arp, Mark Burger, Kay Kendall

FCWA board members discuss the impacts of a rate increase.

“The city of Blue Ridge has made an increase for our water services. I know a lot of you are here today to see how it is going to effect your rates,” FCWA Chairwoman Anita Weaver addressed the crowd at the April FCWA meeting.

Weaver also acknowledged that the news of this increase has not left the FCWA with time to discuss its potential impact: “The water authority has really not had an opportunity to go over all of this at the present time, to look at our budget, to see if there will be an increase.”

Following the June 2017 rate increase from the city, the FCWA passed on 75 percent of the increase to its customers.

FCWA board member Kay Kendall was present at the city meeting when the wholesale rate increase was implemented and explains why there was a need to raise prices: “I was at the meeting and if I understand it right, it was due to the cost for them (city).”

FCWA is currently in a three-year contract with the City of Blue Ridge, and there is little in the contract to prevent any kind of increase the city might enforce.

“There’s no promise that in terms of looking at increases,” Weaver said explaining the current contract, “just a very vague statement that says, ‘we (city) can do whatever we want, every time, every year.'”

Questions arose from current FCWA customers asking the board what can be done to renegotiate the terms of the contract, and what the board plans to do moving forward.

The board was unable to discuss the reworking of the contract, and Kendall added, “We fully recognize that, right now, the city holds the cards.”

Assuring customers that the board is not taking the matter lightly, Weaver said, “I have talked with a couple of the council members and I plan on continuing to talk to them to see what we can resolve in this matter.”

FCWA Vice Chairman Larry Chapman added to Weaver’s thoughts, “A lot of the questions you folks have are the same questions we have and we’ve got to find the answers to those.”

The FCWA hopes to have more answers in their next monthly meeting scheduled to be held Wednesday, May 16, at the Fannin County Courthouse.

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

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Shallowford Bridge Road could see improvements

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Shallowford Bridge Road could see upgrades including paving in the future. Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff discussed with the Fannin County Board of Commissioners (BOC) the possibility of receiving federal grant money to complete these projects.

“This is a federal grant on paving Shallowford Bridge Road,” Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton began. “It’s an 80/20 grant.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works, Zack Ratcliff, Emergency Management Agency, EMA, Robert Graham, Land Development, Marie Woody, Fannin County Water Authority, Jackie Seabolt, Mark Burger, David Falls, Fire Station, Nixle, Stop the Littering, Shallowford Bridge Road, paving, condemnation

Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff discusses  a federal grant to pave a portion of Shallowford Bridge Road.

Ratcliff explained the grant in more detail: “We’re looking at probably a $172,000 grant.”

If allotted this grant amount through the Forest Service, the county would be responsible for $34,543.

“They’re going to let us do a mile in forestry service property,” Ratcliff said, explaining that special permission had already been given to conduct this project.

Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee commented, “I think it’s a good deal. It will cut down on some of the dust and mud.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, who is no stranger to the paving business, questioned, “Are we paving or tar and graveling?”

Ratcliff replied that it would be paving and also informed the board that the work would need to be contracted out. The county can also reapply for this grant in the future to continue similar pieces of work in the county.

All commissioners were in agreement to apply for this funding with Johnson acknowledging the benefits: “We can’t pave any roads that cheap anywhere else.”

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham approached the BOC with a request regarding the county’s emergency alert system, Nixel.

“Tonight, I would like to ask for the commissioners to consider the renewal of the contract for our alert system for the county,” Graham opened the discussion with the BOC.

The Nixle Alert System is one of the county’s many tools in providing citizens with up-to-date information regarding any emergencies or situations within the county that require resident’s attention.

“The Nixle Alert System is a countywide alerting system that we can send out both text, email, or voice messages in case of emergency,” Graham explained of how the system works. “We can also do a reverse 911, where we can send out to every number in our 911 system with a voice message.”

Fannin County’s Nixle currently has 4,075 residents signed up for text alerts, 1,636 signed up for email, and the reverse 911 option has the ability to presently reach around 14,000 people.

The current contract for the Nixle Alert System expires at the end of this month. The new contract is for three years with a guaranteed price of $8,022.67 per year. This is an increase of $233.67 from the county’s current contract.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works, Zack Ratcliff, Emergency Management Agency, EMA, Robert Graham, Land Development, Marie Woody, Fannin County Water Authority, Jackie Seabolt, Mark Burger, David Falls, Fire Station, Nixle, Stop the Littering, Shallowford Bridge Road, paving, condemnation

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson looks over a contract renewal for the county’s Nixle Alert System.

Of the $8,022.67 per year, the cities of Blue Ridge and McCaysville each pay 23 percent of this total, while the city of Morganton pays 8 percent. This leaves a remaining 46 percent for the county to compensate.

“It sounds like a much-needed tool,” Johnson shared of his thoughts on the contract renewal.

Sosebee agreed of the need, “When I first ran for office my platform was safety for everybody in Fannin County. I have no problem with it (renewal of contract).”

The BOC unanimously agreed to renew the county’s contract for the Nixle Alert System.

Graham also gave a brief update on the search for property for Fire Station 2 (Mineral Bluff). Johnson had previously questioned the status of this station at a prior BOC meeting.

“We feel like if we move any direction out of Mineral Bluff that we need to look towards Highway 60 North,” Graham stated.

Graham cautioned that the station should not be moved out of the community more than a mile and that moving it any further could result in ISO (Insurance Service Office) ratings for residents of that area being affected.

Graham said that his team will continue to be on the lookout for suitable property for Fire Station 2.

Chief Land Development Officer Marie Woody presented the BOC with a county-wide initiative to curb the littering problem that Fannin County faces. This new program is dubbed the Stop The Littering Campaign.

This new program hopes to bring cooperation on many fronts in Fannin County, including that of the residents.

As of April 2018 all waste transfer stations in the county will require all loads to be tarped or covered before going over the scales. If a driver is found in violation of this policy, he or she will be required to turn around properly, secure the load and then proceed to the scales again.

The county is also asking citizens to report any littering that is personally witnessed. A witness must be willing to testify in court before a citation can be issued. Residents can report littering to 706-258-5170 or 706-632-8321.

Woody updated the board on the condemnations within the county. The first condemnation is located on Salem Road.

“We can go forward on it. It is now owned by a bank,” Woody explained. A formal letter will be sent to the bank in Austin, Texas, next week.

A property on Bell Road is also a candidate for condemnation, but Woody explained that ownership of that property is still being settled, so moving forward is not an option for the county at the moment.

“A letter has went out,” Woody updated the board of property located on Old Mobile Road. “They now have a deadline to respond.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works, Zack Ratcliff, Emergency Management Agency, EMA, Robert Graham, Land Development, Marie Woody, Fannin County Water Authority, Jackie Seabolt, Mark Burger, David Falls, Fire Station, Nixle, Stop the Littering, Shallowford Bridge Road, paving, condemnation

Scenic Drive site where two mobile homes were destroyed by fire.

The county is also looking into a new site located on Ada Street. This property will have to go to Superior Court, according to Woody, for public health and safety reasons.

Finally, Woody addressed the board on property located on the corner of Scenic Drive and Davis Road. This property was the site of a home fire that left two mobile homes as a complete loss.

According to Woody, this is not a condemnation site and she acknowledged, “I know there has been a lot of concern about it.”

Woody had been working with the owner of the property to get the site cleared, but the owner, who had been ill, recently passed away.

While the process will be delayed a bit for clean up to begin, Woody did want the public to know “we are working on that.”

The Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) will see a new face on the board.

The nomination for appointment came from Johnson who said, “This person will be filling the spot of Jackie Seabolt, who chose to come off the water authority. This person I think can do a really good job. He’s in the real estate business. He’s put water systems in himself. He’s very familiar with the county.”

The board unanimously agreed and voted for Mark Burger to serve a three-year appointment on the FCWA. Also getting an unanimous reappointment was David Falls, who will serve the FCWA board for another three-year term.

Two citizens, Ralph Garner, of Blue Ridge, and Joe Webb, of Dial, spoke during public commentary and expressed similar concerns to the board.

Both citizens spoke of the expenditures of building the new Fire Station 1 and E-911 center.

“The impression given by our board is that no borrowed funds will be needed to build the new fire station,” Garner spoke of the recent reveal that borrowed funds would be needed for the project’s completion.

Webb expressed similar feelings stating, “The original vote was to limit the project to $2.5 million. There is no public plan of what’s being built and what it costs.”

Garner acknowledged that the original vote for the fire station budget was before current Chairman Stan Helton took office and added, “I commend Commissioner Johnson for voicing opposition to borrowing money.”

Garner suggested letting Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money accumulate and using these funds for the project’s completion instead of borrowing the funds.

Garner and Webb both also voiced concerns over the recent removal of Lane Bishop from the Board of Assessors.

Webb suggested of the appointment process to any board in the county, “We never solicit people from the public. We never look at qualifications. We never look at reasons. We need a process to place people on boards.”

“There needs to be a stated need and basically resumes and interviews,” Webb added.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Fannin County Water Authority evaluates customer rates

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Projects continue to make progress as the Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) expands its service area. Two such projects, Dry Branch Road and Blue Bird Road, have been in the works for several months now, and the board received updates on both.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Water Authority, Carter and Sloope, Kurt McCord, Larry Chapman, Anita Weaver, David Falls, Kay Kendall, Water Rates, Residential, Commercial

Blue Bird Road project moves towards completion.

Kurt McCord, a project engineer with Carter & Sloope, Inc., informed the FCWA board that plans for the Dry Branch Road expansion are complete and that all approvals needed for the continuation of Blue Bird Road have been granted. McCord says that the Blue Bird Road project could possibly be complete in two months.

With this expansion comes the need to discuss rates for water customers. FCWA continues to grow and McCord presented the board with recommendations for pricing to its customers.

“We basically looked, really at the neighboring systems, kind of around us, ” McCord said, explaining how the pricing recommendations came about.
By comparing rates of the city of Blairsville, city of Blue Ridge (inside), city of Blue Ridge (outside), Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewer, city of McCaysville, and the city of Morganton, Carter & Sloope came up with a set of prices for FCWA customers.

Fannin County poses a unique set of difficulties when pricing water rates in that many of the homes in the county  are second homes or rental properties, leading to less water use on average than that of full-time residents.

“I think it was wise at the time to adopt a higher base rate,” McCord explained of the proposed numbers, “because I think we have come to find out that they (part-time residents) may only be using 2,500 to 3,000 gallons a month.”

FCWA board member David Falls explained that the rates need to be enough to cover maintenance, employee’s salary, and any other costs associated with providing water to Fannin County residents.

Discussion arose about industry specific pricing. FCWA Vice Chairman Larry Chapman brought this issue to the board’s attention: “If we have chicken houses or something like that, we are going to have to look at a guaranteed minimum usage on something like that.”

Chapman cited that industries such as the chicken houses would likely use county water as a backup system.

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss explained that commercial rates could be broken up into different categories of industry and could also be examined on a case-by-case basis.

“You set the base lines. Then you have to negotiate certain things,” Doss described of providing water for commercial use on a case-by-case basis, “especially while you’re still in the mode of expanding your lines, your overall services.”

Board Member Kay Kendall asked if impact fees were being set aside into a separate account, and suggested that if not, these fees could be put into a separate account for capital improvements.

“Just set aside so that we would know that that is our building fund,” Kendall explained of the need. “Put them in a separate capital improvement account with the idea that in an emergency situation, we could use for operations, but it would require authority approval.”

The board unanimously voted to open a new account for impact fees, with the understanding that the board could approve to use these funds in another area if an emergency need arises.

Chapman suggested a small impact fee be added to residential service. The board unanimously approved these impact fees on residential. The new impact fees would include $25 on 3/4-inch residential water line and $50 for one-inch residential water line.

The board approved the recommendations for water rates in Fannin County with the added impacts fees. Commercial pricing will mimic irrigation pricing.

The board will re-evaluate rates on an annual basis.

 

Monthly Billing:
$38.00 monthly charge (does not include any water)
$5.00 per 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons
$7.00 per 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons

Tap Fee:
For 3/4″ Residential Water Line:
Tap Fee: $1,465.00
Impact Fee: $25.00
Deposit: $125.00
Admn. Charge: $35.00
TOTAL: $1,650.00

For 1″ Residential Water Line:
Tap Fee: $1,890.00
Impact Fee: $50.00
Deposit: $200.00
Admin. Charge: $35.00
TOTAL: $2,175.00

Other Fees:
Late Fee: $15.00
Returned Check: $30.00
Disconnection: $50.00
Reconnection: $75.00
After hrs. Restore Service $100.00
Meter Tampering: $150.00
Admin. Fee: $35.00
Hydrant Meter/Bulk Water Purchase:
Deposit: $750.00
Monthly Rental: $50.00
Water Usage: $5.00 / 1,000 gallons

Irrigation:
$38.00 monthly (no water included)
$6.00 / 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons
$8.00 / 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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