The Georgia Department of Community Affairs on Tuesday approved Hall County’s service delivery strategy that is required of all counties by state law to minimize duplication of services with cities.
Introduced in 1997, the SDS promotes cooperation and collaboration between the county and its municipalities and by so doing delivers cost-efficient services to residents.
Hall County and its cities, with the exception of Lula, signed and submitted the SDS agreement on June 29, but a few weeks later DCA sent the document back to them for revisions.
Counties and cities that do not have an approved SDS on file are ineligible to receive any financial assistance or permits from the state.
Local officials said that only minor adjustments had to be made to the SDS document and that the county and cities were never at risk of losing funding.
“We were confident always that the SDS would be approved, and it really comes as no surprise,” said Katie Crumley, spokeswoman for Hall County government. “The changes that they asked us to make were really minor paperwork issues.”
Lula city officials did not sign the SDS because because of a disagreement with the county over territorial rights for providing sewer. City officials maintain that the county is moving into an area that Lula should be servicing.
Hall County earlier this year embarked on a more than $3 million sewer line extension project for a planned commercial development at the Ga. 52/Ga. 365 intersection. Lula operates a more than $14 million wastewater treatment plant off Magnolia Station Drive, which is off Ga. 52 north of Ga. 365.
Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin often says that Lula already has a sewer line within 3,300 feet off the planned commercial development.
Lula and the county also are at odds over a sewer agreement they signed in 2006 in which Lula is threatening legal action. Bergin said the sewer agreement issue is separate from the city’s decision to not sign the SDS.
“We just wish the law as it’s written didn’t deal so much with process and procedure as much as it would deal with protecting the citizens who are paying for all this infrastructure,” Bergin said.
Crumley said issues with the SDS included checking off boxes that were not checked and making sure that everything was consistent.
“We’re certainly grateful to all the cities that participated in the process,” Crumley said. “And we’ll continue to service the citizens of Hall County as we’ve always done.”