Hall County and its municipalities are in danger of losing out on state grants and permits issued by the state if they don’t reach consensus on a service delivery agreement that must be filed with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs by June 30.The service delivery agreement is mandated by state law “to minimize inefficiencies resulting from duplication of services and competition between local governments.”
Hall County and participating municipalities last filed a revised agreement in 2004, according to information on the DCA website.
Complicating negotiations on reaching a revised service delivery agreement is a simmering dispute between Hall County and the city of Lula over a sewer agreement they signed in 2006. Lula is threatening a lawsuit.
Lula officials claim that the county encouraged the city to construct a wastewater treatment plant at a cost of $14 million. The county paid the city $1.5 million to purchase 100,000 gallons a day at the treatment plant with a 500,000 gallons per day capacity.
However, despite Hall’s purchase of capacity at Lula’s plant, it is currently spending more than $3 million on a sewer project to service a parcel that Lula officials say they can service at a fraction of what the county is spending.
Lula officials aired their grievance against the county at a meeting last week in Flowery Branch attended by elected officials from Clermont, Gillsville, Flowery Branch and Oakwood.
Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin made the case that if Hall County’s apparent intrusion into the area served by Lula’s sewer plant goes unchallenged, it could put all cities at risk of having the county duplicating services and crossing lines in other areas.
County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said the county does not see see the sewer dispute with Lula as an impediment to reaching a service delivery agreement.
To date, the parties have had 12 meetings, according to Crumley. She said the next meeting has yet to be scheduled
“We are confident that a resolution can be reached,” Crumley said.
Service delivery agreements between local governing authorities are used to “resolve disputes over local government service delivery, funding equity and land use,” the law states.
If a resolution between the county and municipalities is not reached by the June 30 deadline, the parties could get an extension of 180 days. After that, the matter would have to go to arbitration with the parties sharing any court costs.