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Lula threatens legal action against Hall County over sewer agreement
Dennis Bergin
Dennis Bergin

Lawyered up and ready for a legal fight, Lula city officials made it clear they want Hall County to honor a sewer agreement the parties signed in 2006.

At a special called meeting Thursday, Lula City Council unanimously approved a motion authorizing its attorneys “to use all legal means, including litigation,” to enforce the 2006 agreement.

Council took the action after City Manager Dennis Bergin made a public presentation alleging the county is pursuing a different course from what it agreed on in 2006.

Bergin said the city took on construction of its almost $15 million wastewater treatment plant, in part, because Hall County officials said they did not want to be in the sewer business. He said that’s the reason the county paid $1 million to the city in return for 100,000 gallons of sewer capacity at the plant.

Now, Bergin said, the county is extending sewer lines along Ga. 365 at a cost of $3.2 million and unnecessarily duplicating services at taxpayers’ expense. Bergin added that the county wants out of the agreement.

“We’ve expressed our concerns and our interests, and we’ve been reneged,” Bergin said at the hearing.

Council’s action comes one month after Cumming-based Jarrard & Davis law firm wrote to Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins on behalf of Lula giving notice of the county’s “non-compliance with the 2006 Intergovernmental Agreement.”

“Although the City of Lula has tried diligently to engage in proactive discussions with Hall County for purposes of understanding why Hall County is taking this approach, Hall County will not meet with Lula representatives in a meaningful way,” attorney Ken Jarrard wrote to Higgins.

The letter also alleges that the county’s $3.2 million sewer project, which does not include the cost of pump stations, would initially benefit a small commercial parcel at 4504 Cornelia Highway. Jarrard claims the same sewer service at that parcel could be provided by Lula at a cost of approximately $600,000.

Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said the county “categorically denies every allegation.”

Crumley said county officials recently met with representatives of the city “in good faith” to reach an understanding.

“If negotiations are not successful, the county will respond specifically to each and every allegation in the notice within 90 days as outlined in the 2006 agreement,” Crumley said.

The city’s attorneys had asked the county to respond in 30 days to Lula’s notice and declare “its intention to discontinue the project and honor the agreement.”

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