Maintenance for the Tyrone sewer system will now be performed by the Coweta County Water and Sewerage System (WASA) after a March 21 vote by the Town Council. The reason behind the switch from sewer system maintenance provider Peachtree City WASA to Coweta County WASA is the real story.
The switch to Coweta WASA will come with a cost of $285,600 over the next nine years, the time remaining on the Peachtree City WASA contract, which amounts to a $32,114 savings over the amount Peachtree City currently required.
Tyrone received a Jan. 14 letter from Peachtree City WASA attorney Melissa Griffis stating that the town was in breach of contract by allowing a vendor company to perform maintenance on a pump at one of the town’s pump stations. That action resulted in WASA’s decision to terminate the contract.
Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial in response to the decision said one of the town’s pump stations needed to have a portion of a pump replaced, with WASA recommending that the part be purchased from a vendor company. The part was secured from the vendor company, with the same company shortly thereafter being called to perform maintenance on that part.
Griffis’ letter said the town requested Peachtree City WASA staff assistance after a disruption of service occurred on Jan. 7. WASA staff responded to the site and were turned away upon their arrival, being told by town employees that the vendor company was correcting the problem, the letter said.
Griffis’ letter noted that having the maintenance work done by the company amounted to a breach of contract.
Commenting on the contract termination, Dial said the town disputes the claim that WASA staff were turned away by town employees, adding that contract was terminated over a technical maintenance issue after WASA recommended the company for the pump part purchase.
“Some maintenance was performed by the company, then a disagreement ensued at the site between WASA staff and the vendor company staff, and later led to WASA terminating the contract,” said Dial. “Our opinion was that the disagreement should have been addressed through communications between Tyrone and Peachtree City WASA, especially since we have an existing relationship, personally and professionally. But that did not occur, and we received the contract termination letter from their attorney. A letter like that is usually reserved for parties in conflict with no existing relationship. I find it unfortunate that we can’t work together in that fashion. Normally, we like to do business with our neighbors. Now we will be doing business with our neighbors to the west.”
The Citizen attempted to contact Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, who along with the remainder of the City Council serves as the Peachtree City WASA board of directors, about the issues that led to the contract being terminated.
Fleisch in a text was asked to contact this reporter about the Tyrone sewer maintenance issue. Fleisch responded back, saying either attorney Melissa Griffis or Integrated Science and Engineering head Dan Davis should be contacted about the inquiry. ISE was previously hired by the board to manage WASA.
A follow-up text was sent to Fleisch, noting that the City Council served as the WASA board and asking if it were not the case that the board of directors would have to approve a contract termination.
Fleisch again referred this reporter to Davis or Griffis with no additional comment.
With ISE serving as the manager of the Peachtree City WASA operation, The Citizen left messages for ISE CEO Dan Davis but was unable to speak with him by press time.
Also contacted were council members and WASA board members Mike King and Terry Ernst. Neither had a comment on the issue.
The five members of the City Council are also the five-member WASA board, since local legislation last year dumped the volunteer board and installed the sitting council as the board in charge of the sewer authority.
However, any questions about their decisions as WASA board members are referred to the private engineering firm that runs the system or the authority’s appointed lawyer. City Hall staff members are unable to provide any information about the five individuals in their performance as WASA board members.