- Local News
--By Stella Lohmann on --
August 31, 2012—CUMMING, GA/Forsyth County Attorney Ken Jarrard recommended commissioners vote to pay current city water usage invoices “under protest” even though there is no completed Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA). The 25 year old water usage contract between the city of Cumming and Forsyth County expired in May and commissioners held a special called meeting to decide what to do next.
Forsyth Board of Commissioner Todd Levent opened the ‘special called meeting’ clearly frustrated over Cumming’s Mayor Ford Gravitt’s ‘scare tactics’ last week threatening to shut off raw water to the county. The back and forth finger pointing between county commissioners and city officials has strained negotiations within the BOC as well.
“Anyone dealing in good faith doesn’t threaten to turn off the water,” said Levent as Commissioner Patrick Bell defended the city’s right to negotiate. “We’ve never gone without water.”
“They’ve never gone without money,” Levent answered.
And so it went for much of the hour meeting. At the basis of the city-county standoff are existing raw and finished water agreements that the county presumed were completed following multiple attempts to resolve a now expired 25 year water usage agreement between the city and the county. Levent presented documents showing that the city violated a letter signed by the Mayor agreeing to terms presented in a ‘binding’ proposal yet the mayor returned another with additional pages and conditions. The special meeting stagnated over whether the county should comply with the city’s new demands.
“Things are different now,” explained Levent. “The EPD (Environmental Protection Division of Georgia Natural Resources) is considering our request for our own permit but is waiting to see what happens in our negotiations with the city.”
“The authority has to make a profit,” countered Bell as discussion continued between primarily himself and Levent.
That ‘authority’ Bell referred to, “Enterprise Water System”, Is an entity Dr. Joe S, Moses, believes is at the center of the water tug-of-war. In an exclusive interview with Cumming Home.com, Dr. Moses, who currently serves on the Forsyth Planning Commission, says he is filing for a second Open Records Request to find out why.
“The city had an engineer probably a month ago make a presentation. His recommendations, after doing that study, were to double water rates. He gave no back up information,” continued Moses. “I think he just pulled them out of the air or was given a directive.”
On July 26th Moses says he filed his first Open Records Request and was not satisfied when he received only 26 pages. “That ‘was a bunch of garbage and we let them know we would go to the attorney general with the ORR’. Since then Moses says he has received 300 pages of information.
“As soon as they got information that we were serious and wanted to know the relationship between the engineer and the city, then magically 300 (pages) appeared. I’m in the process of filing another ORR to determine what ‘Enterprise Water System’ is (and what authority it has over the water issue.)
Near the conclusion of the meeting, the commissioners voted 4 to 0 w to approve the payment of the July 31, 2012 raw water invoice and the August 6, 2012 finished water invoice from the city of Cumming. The motion to approve to pay the invoices specifically stated that the payment is made under protest. The BOC will meet next Thursday in the Administration Building hoping someone will have solutions that will bring the water contract to completion.
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