Peachtree City Council takeover of sewer system raises questions, expenses

WASA's Susan Lee in a photo from November 2017. Photo/Submitted.
WASA's Susan Lee in a photo from November 2017. Photo/Submitted.

The Peachtree City Council wanted control over the Water and Sewer Authority. They got it, with the members of the council, including the mayor, now installed as the members of the authority’s board. They also got a lot of questions and a much bigger management bill than anticipated.

One estimate shows the new proposal to be more than $100,000 more than the city currently pays for a general manager’s position.

At the beginning of July, the City Council became the new board of directors after local legislation passed the General Assembly allowing the City Council to take control. Previously, a volunteer board had overseen the workings of the Peachtree City Water and Sewerage Authority.

On July 23, the board had a special called meeting to hear a proposal from Integrated Science and Engineering for managing the authority.

Interim WASA Director Susan Lee attended the meeting and thought there would be a Request for Proposal put out for the project, but no such RFP existed.

“ISE presented information for turnkey management of the authority,” she said.

The scope of services ISE provided included:

• Assessment of the current organizational and staffing.

• Financial services management.

• Human resources management.

• Weekly staff meetings.

• Program management.

All told, the six tasks would add up to a yearly bill of $286,800.

Lee said if the project was approved, she was unsure about her future. Her current contract expires Aug. 6.

“I’m not sure what this means. I do have a contract that stipulates if I am not picked for the new director. I would go back to my old job as head of operations.” she said.

WASA board chairman Vanessa Fleisch said there was no RFP put out because this is for professional services.

ISE is currently doing 10 projects for WASA, which they included in a conflict of interest paragraph.

“This is just one of the options we’re looking at,” Fleisch said.

She said the new board wants to make sure WASA keeps running as efficiently as it has.

“We just got this information July 23, so we’re still trying to process all the implications,” she said.

Just over a year ago, the City Council decided to petition the General Assembly for changes to the WASA legislation.

Last August, the then-WASA board sent a sharply-worded letter to the City Council.

“Simply put, there is no independent justification for replacing the members of the authority with City Council members. To do so is an affront to the current volunteers who serve and all of those who have served in the past who have done an exemplary job in maintaining WASA. Simply because you may wish to have control over all the aspects of the authority because you have disagreed with some of its decisions, is no reason to change the entire paradigm of the membership of the authority.”

The WASA board meeting is at the authority’s office at 1127 South Ga. Highway 74 at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6.