WASA/City Council negligently failing to maintain sewer system

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WASA Board (Mayor & Council), I think attaining a grant for the sewer system is good, if the money is available and WASA qualifies for it. However, I think the grant money would be better used for capital improvements and maintenance, and not for expansion of the sewer system you as council desire.

Since you have been on the WASA board, you have been willfully negligent in maintaining the sewer system. You received a briefing in July 2018 about the need for $24 million in capital improvements with a recommended completion in 5-10 years.

Since that briefing, you’ve approved three WASA budgets. In those three budgets, you spent or programmed just $1.86 million for capital improvements. Surprisingly, you accepted without question, Dan Davis’ statement in October 2020 that the sewer system was in good shape, and he didn’t foresee any problem in the next 5-7 years.

As the WASA board, your first concern is for the bondholders (by the law), and then for the current sewer customers, some of whom are outside the city limits.

You may think if WASA builds the sewer lines, the septic users will connect, but that thinking is misguided.

The law requires a new sewer customer to pay for their share of the WASA sewer line they’re connecting to. That’s why sewer wasn’t emplaced along Huddleston Road in 2010; the property owners were unwilling to pay their share of the cost.

Should WASA build and pay for the sewer expansions, that’s essentially subsidizing those property owners and would be against the law, and unfair to the current sewer customers that have paid their share of the sewer system.

There is a mechanism for forcing septic users to connect to the sewer system, but there hasn’t been the will to enforce the policy either by WASA or the city; maybe you can show that will.

The law requires WASA to send a letter to every septic user whose property line is within 200 feet of the sewer easement. In 2016 there were over 170 septic users meeting the criteria when it was just 100 feet. The letter informs the property owner they have 90 days to connect to the sewer system. If they don’t connect, a lien can and should be placed on their property until they do connect.

John Dufresne

Former WASA Board Member/Chairman

Peachtree City, Ga.

13 COMMENTS

  1. For further clarity, this is the actual governing document regarding mayor and council on WASA. Clearly it is completely independent of city government. They do not function on the board as Mayor and Council. This begs the question is Mike King being intentionally dishonest, as he was with Great Wolf, or is he that ignorant of what he signed?

    https:/ /library.municode .com/ga/peachtree_city/codes/code_of_ordinances? nodeId=PTICHRELA_SPBRELA_ARTIIWASEAU

    Due to Cal’s rules On links, please remove the spaces I added. Also note Learnard Part of this fiasco, thus why she avoids the whole issue.

    Per the documentation those sitting on the board must be replaced by the new Council. Also note having taken a GMA course on utilities Long ago the state barred any new cities adding utilities due to misuse of utility fees for other purposes. That is why they simply didn’t move to take over sewer as the city function because they could not by law.

    Fixing WASA is now even simpler than I previously thought. We can just revise the new document they created to remove mayor and council and prohibit sewer outside the city without Council permission.

    The issue still remains for a number of people on Facebook as to why Imker is blocking certain people and why Learnard will not allow posting by some on her personal page?

  2. As usual Mr Haddix is misinformed. Council appointed itself as the WASA Board with the Legislatures approval after being told by the then Board that they could expand outside the city limits without the approval of City Council. Council maintained that denial authority due to guaranteeing the debt on bonds issued by WASA by previous commitment to attain a more favorable interest rate.
    The city of Tyrone sewer recipients are serviced by Fulton County currently, and the assertion that we provided sewer there is simply erroneous.
    To have extended service to Tyrone would have placed the burden on the current ratepayers to pay $1.5M to extend service to the 492 ratepayers at the time so they could enjoy current PTC rates.
    Bottom line: Peachtree City WASA does not provide sewer to Tyrone, and Mr Haddix should know that.

    • Mike King, exactly where where was I wrong? Of course I knew about the bond issue. It was fully in operation when I was a councilmember and mayor. The bond was instituted under Mayor Steve Brown. I knew well that the retirement of the bond was going to happen.

      WASA Contracted with Tyrone to perform sewer maintenance, just for clarity. Anyway you look at it that is extending WASA outside the city.

      Also, for clarity, Council did not appoint the mayor and council as board members. It appointed Fleisch, Ernst, Madden, Prebor, and you as board members. The same reality that exists on the bond board.

      For more clarity and information read “PTC mayor, councilmen go silent, refuse to comment on Tyrone sewer contract dispute” On the citizen. It explains why the contract was canceled.

      This is a but an example of Council logic that has tried to violate the First Amendment, urbanize Aberdeen, waste money on The traffic studies and LCI, etc and failed in the simple duty of getting the correct zoning and zoning maps in place, resulting in a lawsuit that should’ve never happened. As well as spending WASA and spending city money on legal issues when one function of an authority is to protect the city from such legal matters.

      • Don, take your meds.
        You stated that WASA was providing sewer service to Tyrone-the service contract was cancelled in 2019 due to the cost of providing the service was costing WASA more than Tyrone was willing to pay so they resumed that service with Fulton County.
        “Council Going Silent” was an opinion piece put together because as Members of Council we cannot comment on pending or potential litigation.
        As far as naming individual members of Council, vice naming Council-really?
        As far as spending money on legal issues, aren’t you one to speak?

        • Mike, that is not what the article said. Mayor Deal did comment. Said you failed to perform. It was not an opinion piece.

          The lawsuit named you as WASA, Council and Individuals. Three sets of legal individuals. As with the bond authority, you meet as the bond authority to deal with the details. Then you have to meet as Council to give city approval to the bond approved by the bond authority. Are you that ignorant of the reality or just being evasive?

          As for me Learnard, Imker and Fleisch caused the legal expenses. They spent far more than I did on lawyers. They had to legally retract on paper all their accusations and actions. They were actually found guilty of illegal actions in this case. Again you did demonstrate a lack of honesty.

          Regarding legal issues, there is that billboard case because of actions by Council.

          And how about your actions on the county development authority generating a false report on Great Wolf that forced you to resign from the authority immediately after?

          I know what I’m talking about, you don’t.

  3. John is correct, there are problems with council on the WASA board. To be blunt, they are have no skill for sewage. It all ties in with their LCI dreams. While decent, this sewer system has problems now.

    Septic is under County, not city. I served four years on the board of health, so I know. If a septic field is declared non-percolating the owners options are move, buy sophisticated expensive septic systems or connect to a serviceable sewer line if within 300 feet.

    WASA is a utility, not a government entity. The BOE is not controlled by the commission, but by the state. So forget grandfathering.

    This Council is power-hungry. Members, which included two running for mayor, eliminated the much-needed development authority. Then they took over WASA and then the planning commission. They do need to go. A conservative mayor and two councilmembers must be elected. So consider well before you vote for Imker, Ernst or Learnard.

    • I imagine the City Council will refine WASA governing management and oversight policy in time. What the City Council did, and I greatly appreciate, was to save us from a statutorily independent WASA Board that initiated expansion efforts beyond our public control. Whereas, City Council directly replaced the Board with themselves, as elected officials, I suspect they will, in turn, create a commission (board, agency) to provide WASA guidance and support that is reportable to our City’s elected officials.

      • This Council ceases December 31. If you remember correctly, I opposed WASA expanding outside the city on its own.

        You seem to forget when Council took over they expanded to Tyrone, opening the vulnerability to anyone who wants to hook up to our sewer within 300 feet to be able to by state law.

        The Agency you talk about will never happen by state law. You are trying to put them directly under the control of city government, which cannot happen. Yes, they do sit as the board currently, but not as Mayor and Council. It is still not part of city government and never will be per state law governing utilities. Any and all changes must be approved by the state during the annual legislative session, not a simple city vote.

        The correct solution, which I propose before, is to submit to this state a change of the charter, stating no sewer can go outside the city, unless approved by Council.

        I understand what you wish, but it can never happen the way you think. Plus, I oppose giving citizens less a voice in our city, as happened when dissolving our development authority and taking over our planning commission.

        Imker was the first one to propose taking over the utility. Learnard still wants to urbanize our city, which would have to happen via a tad. Imker ran against tax increases and then proposed the 1.25 tax increase and what followed. Learnard Still has no problem with tax increases and urbanizing the city. Ernst is more of the same. So consider your vote carefully.

        • Yes. I do remember you were opposed to expanding WASA outside of PTC. I also remember you, in particular, stated nothing could be done about the WASA Board’s actions because of State law.

          Something was done. That’s one of a couple reasons I decided to pass on voting for you as Mayor. You seem to have all the final answers and reluctant to formulate or work toward finding solutions to the problems that you do not have all the correct answers.

          • The law is still the same. They do not serve on the board as Mayor and Council. WASA is not under the city manager. It is still an independent corporation. In the lawsuit the city was not sued. After the election these five will remain on the board Until their terms expire.

            Remember the development authority? They could not take over the board because state law only allows One city official to serve. So they disbanded and attempted to exercise the power under the city, but cannot do so.

            And what about the planning commission? If you do not see this has been a power grab after power grab you are blind.

            They also have put two city employees on the CVB board of directors.

            How about when we had to vote on sales tax distribution? They were ready to concede giving the county more money and us less. I stopped them and informed them by law if we did not agree we had to get our population percentage as distribution.

            If you cannot see, they do not rule by law, but opinion, I don’t know what to tell you. As with their blunder on the current lawsuit over a Billboard.

            So yes, I find a lot of answers to a lot of things. Having learned a lot as a councilman, Mayor, Board of Health member and state arbitrator. I actually also do a lot of research on law, etc.

            Or the reality two of my opponents supported the fiasco of changing Aberdeen village and Huddleston into urban.

            It seems pretty obvious to me you are supporting Ernst, who follows Fleisch and King.

  4. I think a grant to help offset out-of-pocket conversions of septic tank systems to municipal sewer service is an appropriate use of grant money. Yes, WASA must budget to maintain certifiable municipal sewer services, but in the worst case scenario that may come in the form of bonds. I’m glad we have elected officials overseeing this vital service to our community.

  5. A person whose house was built on septic ought be grandfathered in and protected from any government scheme to expand itself. The idea that government should compel someone to pay thousands to use a service they neither need nor desire is absolutely imperious. And then to further propose that a lien be put on their property for falling to do so? How very Soviet of you.