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Hall County revises sewer rate proposal
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Ken Rearden, Hall County public works and utilities director, detailed another sewer rate proposal to the county commissioners at the board of commissioners’ work session Tuesday afternoon, drawing praise from one resident opposed to the county’s previously introduced plan.

“It certainly is a better alternative and more acceptable than what we have seen from the original proposal,” Phyllis Mercer said. “Most importantly to us, it appears to be fair to low-volume users.”

Mercer and other Deaton Creek residents gave the commissioners a petition with more than 600 signatures of residents who opposed the proposed sewer rate changes at its board meeting on Nov. 29.

Rearden recalculated the rate based on residential use. The alternate plan would not cap usage and it would charge $6 in fixed costs, including a $2 customer service charge, a $4 capacity charge and a $6 commodity charge. The original proposal charged a $2 customer service charge, a $15 capacity charge and a $3.50 commodity charge. The commodity fee charges per ccf, which equals to 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons. The alternative proposal would generate about $1.32 million in revenue, Rearden said. The original plan, which also had a 10 ccf limit on residential use, would bring in about $980,000 in revenue. Commissioners decided to consider the original proposal in its board meeting on Thursday, but it could approve pricing or cap changes.

If sewer rates changes are approved, they would take effect Jan. 1. The current monthly rate is a $42 flat fee.

Profit from a new sewer rate, which would apply to South and North Hall, would go to pay on the South Hall wastewater treatment plant that the county bought in 2008.

Currently, the county operates the Spout Springs Water Reclamation Facility at 6818 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch, with service primarily to three area neighborhoods: Sterling on the Lake, Reunion and Village at Deaton Creek.

Commissioners also will consider spending up to $525,000 in special purpose local option sales tax funds to renovate The Historic Clermont Dip, the town’s self-created library. Clermont Mayor James Nix sat in on the work session and listened as commissioners decided to consider the expenditure at its Thursday meeting. A project expenditure analysis of the county’s SPLOST IV funds shows that the renovation has about $667,686 budgeted.

“They’re going to vote on it,” Nix said. “I’ve been working for months with Ken trying to get something worked out that serves that end of the county.”

The library, located in the Clermont Gym, which is leased from the county, was created through donations and volunteers after budget cuts closed the town’s county-funded branch in July 2011. The town sued the county over its right to have a library branch in April 2010 after the commission voted to use SPLOST funds to build a park and library branch on Nopone Road.

The decision infuriated Clermont residents, who claimed they had voted in favor of the one-cent tax so the county would pay for a new library branch. The dispute went to court, which ruled in the commission’s favor, saying the ballot only promised a North Hall library branch and didn’t specify a location.

Commissioner Scott Gibbs said the commissioners want to see the list of projects and the total of money available. Although the building’s structure and foundation are strong, it’s 50 years old and needs heating and air-conditioning improvements, electrical work, and new carpet.

In other business, the commission is likely to table the zoning application of Riverbrook Village Development Partners LLC to build a 200-unit apartment in North Hall on Thursday, at the request of landowner Robbie Robinson. He said the company needed additional time before the application was considered by the commissioners.