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Chairman says commissioners have enough data to make sewer choice
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Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Mecum said the board has all the information it needs to make a decision on the best choice to provide sewer service to the Gateway Industrial Centre.

The commissioners heard a final presentation of their service system options at their Monday work session. The county is considering offers from the cities of Lula and Gainesville or developing its own system in North Hall County.

Commissioners had decided to build their own system last year, but the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce has said there is some interest in relocating to the 518-acre industrial park under development by companies that may need service faster. Hall County agreed to provide sewer service to the park within 36 months after Georgia Poultry Laboratory closed on its property there late last year.

Mecum said that short term, the county option is too expensive, but the county does want to eventually build its own system.

“When industry’s looking at coming, they’re looking at “What do you got,’” Mecum said. “Fortunately, we’ve got two quality operations, but Gainesville, by far, I mean they’ve been in the water business for a hundred years.”

Ken Rearden, Hall County director of utilities, gave the presentation and provided a spreadsheet of what the county, Gainesville and Lula were offering. The presentation covered the cost to the county on building the plant and infrastructure, the schedule for getting a system up and running and how much control the county would have over the operations.

The cost for sewer and pump stations and building the treatment plant for Hall County was $1.9 million, Gainesville proposed $6.0 million and Lula’s offer was $2.9 million. The treatment plant cost for the county was $8.5 million, Gainesville estimated $6.75 million and Lula proposed $7.35 million. The costs are based on 500,000 gallons per day average flow.

The rates were $3.50 per 100 cubic feet, which equals 748 gallons, for the county and $7.26 for Gainesville, while Lula would charge $4.33 per 1,000 gallons. However, Gainesville’s rate added a $3.85 per ccf fee, which would help pay down the county’s capital costs on infrastructure, and the county wouldn’t have an upfront capital expense cost.

Hall County would operate its system and Lula would allow Hall County own and operate its system. However, under Gainesville’s offer, the city would own and operate the system. Hall County said it could build a 500,000-gallon capacity system in 30 months maximum, Gainesville said it estimated between 24 to 30 months and Lula estimated it could have service up and running in 18 to 24 months.

“We don’t think that our standards are better than y’all’s,” said Kelly Randall, Gainesville public utilities director. “But when something blows up at 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and you’ve got that emergency crew going out there, you need to make sure those parts are in your warehouse. So by sticking by what we use, we know when we need to repair at 2 in the morning, it’s not going to be something that some other entity uses.”

Commissioner Scott Gibbs complimented Gainesville on its proposal.

Commissioner Craig Lutz echoed Mecum’s opinion about eventually building the county’s own system.

“I still think Hall County is the eventual solution,” Lutz said. “I think because of time constraints, we may have to look at another solution. But, ultimately, when you take a look at it: Capacity is needed and we can build capacity fairly inexpensively. However, time constraints and the ability that Lula gives us to start pulling in revenue before we put out the expense, I think makes it an option that has to be considered. And, obviously we have to consider what Gainesville proposed to us today as well.”

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