Flowery Branch leaders agreed Thursday night to help resolve a neighborhood’s issue with street light bills.
Madison Creek residents sought relief from the City Council, saying they’re paying Georgia Power $34.71 per month for each of the subdivision’s 18 street lights when the city is paying for that same amenity for a nearby subdivision.
“We are fiscally sound ... but this is killing our budget,” said Fred Richards, the homeowners association’s treasurer.
Ultimately, council members agreed to ask Mayor Mike Miller to meet with representatives from Georgia Power and the homeowners group and work out an agreement about rates.
The city’s position in that meeting would be that it could take over the street lights in the neighborhood off Jim Crow and McEver roads, pay Georgia Power a governmental rate of about $14 per month and Madison Creek would reimburse the city for those costs.
Councilman Chris Fetterman pointed out that Georgia Power could deal directly with Mulberry Creek and just lower the rate to that amount, as it appears the utility is “going to lose revenue either way.”
If the city ends up taking over the lights, Madison Creek could end up also paying a small administrative fee for the billing service.
“I’m hoping we can get an equitable solution to you as soon as we can,” Councilman Kris Yardley said.
The council agreed to resolve the matter by Jan. 20, or the council’s second regularly scheduled meeting of the month.
Richards seemed satisfied with the decision.
“It’s been a long process and we’re moving ahead,” he said after the meeting.
City Planner James Riker said the subdivision first approached the city in August about the matter, raising “some pretty good questions” about the inequity.
“Those are things that had gone on (in the city) before either I came to the city or (City Manager) Bill (Andrews) did,” he said “We said we’d look into it. We agreed we would investigate the matter.”
The study took a while “because we wanted to get a sense of what street lights we were actually paying for,” Riker said.
It ended up showing that the city pays for 195 street lights overall, 26 of them in subdivisions.
“We don’t have a good explanation as to why these subdivisions’ (street lights) are being absorbed by the city,” Riker said, “other than they do not have a (homeowners group).”
Other subdivisions are paying for lights through a homeowners group.
At Madison Creek, “the developer did not pay in advance for the lights,” Riker said. “What happens in that case is that Georgia Power puts you on an amortization schedule that never ends.”