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Business could bring 200 jobs to Hall County
Commissioners look for faster ways to add sewer capacity
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A company considering a site in the Gateway Industrial Centre could create more than 200 jobs, the Hall County Board of Commissioners was told Tuesday.

The industrial prospect could need up to 300,000 gallons a day of sewer capacity and sooner than the 36-month timeline agreed upon after the Georgia Poultry Laboratory closed on its property at Gateway. Additional interest in the industrial park and new faces on the board of commissioners have led the board to take a new look at sewer options.

The commissioners heard three presentations on providing sewer service to the industrial park and the Ga. 365 corridor from the cities of Lula and Gainesville and Hall County at Tuesday afternoon’s work session.

The previous commissioners voted in November to build the county’s own system after hearing a county presentation on options from Lula and Gainesville, but new Board Chairman Richard Mecum and Commissioner Jeff Stowe have replaced former Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Ashley Bell as board members and there is apparently interest from a manufacturing company in the site that may need sewer infrastructure faster than the original timeline.

The Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce is also seeing interest from other companies, said Tim Evans, vice president of business development from the chamber, who gave a briefing at the work session. Evans said the company currently considering the site is expected to make a decision in the next couple of months and could create more than 200 jobs.

“From the company’s point of view, the industrial site selection process is an assessment of time, money and risk,” Evans said. “There’s an expectation that the infrastructure will be in place and (have) available capacity to meet (its) needs.”

Lula had two operational options for the county and two sewer infrastructure options, City Manager Dennis Bergin said at the meeting. The preliminary cost to hook up the industrial park to the city’s wastewater treatment plant would be about $1.9 million that includes a pump station and force main infrastructure. Hall County would have the option of operating and maintaining the infrastructure or leave it to the city to manage.

Hall County owns 100,000 gallons per day of capacity in the Lula wastewater plant, and the county has an option for an additional 50,000 gallons for the price of $14 per gallon. Hall County could also purchase an additional 150,000 gallons at an estimated cost of $15 per gallon, which would give the county a 300,000-gallon capacity that is available now, according to the Lula presentation handout. Mecum said the company, which is confidential at this time, could need a capacity of 300,000 gallons per day.

The total estimate for Lula to provide sewer service, including construction and water capacity, would be $4.85 million. It could be up and running in the next 12 to 15 months, Bergin said. Lula also offered a preliminary cost estimate for a regional pump station and gravity sewer infrastructure of $2.35 million. He said it’s the best value for the taxpayer.

“Because the taxpayer is on the hook basically,” Bergin said. “You want the opportunity to recapture and recoup some of those costs. This is no different; you have that opportunity here.”

The city of Gainesville’s presentation, made by City Manager Kip Padgett, would construct, operate, bill and maintain the system. The city has agreed not annex into the sewer district, and the county would have an opt-out option.

“We know it’s an important decision for y’all to make,” Padgett said.

Hall County paid $10.6 million in 2002 for 1 million gallons of treatment capacity and $4.1 million for its share of the collection system to the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility from station 26. Hall County has since moved its more than 1 million gallons of treatment capacity to its South Hall treatment facility. The city quoted water treatment capacity costs of between $3.9 million for 200,000 gallons to $10.6 million for 1 million gallons a day.

Gainesville would also sell the county additional capacity at a rate of $13.5 million per 1 million gallons. The city would enhance its pipeline from station 26 to White Sulphur Road and then build pipe infrastructure along the Ga. 365 corridor to a north pump station at the industrial center. Gainesville would finance the cost of the infrastructure and water capacity and would use debt service payments to pay off the project’s expense, so the county would have no out-of-pocket fees. If the county opted out, it would have to repay the pro rata share of the costs the city incurred.

Padgett said, based on previous experience, it would typically take the city 24-36 months to complete a similar project. However, he said it could be done faster through design and build or by issuing multiple contracts on different sections.

Ken Rearden, director of public utilities for Hall County, gave the county’s presentation. Hall County agreed to provide sewer service to the 518-acre industrial park within 36 months after the Georgia Poultry Laboratory closed on its property there in October. Commissioners voted Nov. 29 to build a 3,500-foot gravity sewer and 75,000-gallons-per-day initial treatment plant to serve the site at an expected cost of $3.2 million after looking at infrastructure options from Lula and the city of Gainesville.

“We’re not going to build anything that we really don’t have to,” Rearden said.

The county could build a 300,000-gallons-a-day-capacity permanent plant in about 15 months for between $6 million and $9 million, Rearden said.

Commissioner Craig Lutz said after the meeting he still needed to think about the information presented before making a decision.

“Generally speaking, I like the fact of having multiple revenue streams in any kind of enterprise and Hall County having the system would allow me to generate multiple revenue streams,” he said. “I’d have the South Hall County revenue stream, as well as the North Hall County revenue stream, and having that kind of diversity is something that I would generally like to see. However, we have to decide what’s best for the whole group.”

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