tells Butts Co WSA it is in need of Money
June 21, 2006 Edition of the Jackson Progress-Argus had
an interesting article concerning JCWSA. Butts Co WSA was
told "Your poor cousins have come over to beg for a
little help from you." After several answers to the
questions posed by BCWSA members, JCWSA received a loan
instead of the mutual assistance they were hoping for.
is the article that appeared in the Jackson (Butts County)
Below that are TWG comments.
BCWSA loans Jasper $15,000
21, 2006, JPA, Stewart Voegtlin
Will cover debt services
with any major construction project, cost tends to pile
up rather quickly and nowhere does this ring truer than
with infrastructure. The Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority
has certainly found this out, as the Authority engages a
plan to make it possible to eventually lay pipeline over
the bridge at Highway 16 and the Ocmulgee River. The pipe
will eventually be used to carry 16-inch water mains under
the bridge’s approach slabs. The Authority had stressed
the project’s importance with Jasper County Commissioners
to no avail; it had also appealed to state representatives
and even the governor. In
a last ditch effort, the Authority made the drive to Butts
County to have a sit-down with the Butts County Water and
Sewer Authority at its regular monthly meeting held June
poor cousins have come over to beg for a little help from
you," said Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority
Chairman Brack Pound. "We knew we had
[the Ocmulgee River Bridge] going on [at Highway 16] and
we were hoping to get a little help from [Governor Sonny
Perdue] but nothing’s come up yet. This is the final hour
and now we’ve come to see y’all: We want y’all to consider
tying in at the Ocmulgee River Bridge."
and other members of the Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority
had requested money from Jasper County Commissioners, and
had exhausted every grant option with the help of State
Representative Jim Cole and State Senator Johnny Grant.
are several reasons why I think this is a good idea,"
said Pound. "I know you will be spending a little bit
more money for that expanded water system; a customer would
help fund that cost and we could be that customer. Connecting
our water systems would benefit both of us in the event
of emergency, too. And then there’s the issue of peak demands:
If you approach that peak amount and we’re able to supply
you water during that, it might be economically feasible
for y’all to hold off on expansion. We understand that the
Authority is also working on the Big Sandy Creek, and I
understand that you might need a joint partner; we’d like
to be that joint partner.
we spoke with the Environmental Protection Division [EPD]
the other day, they told us that we should express our desire
to be one of your customers," Pound continued. "People
are looking more and more for counties to cooperate. And
the thing is: the [Ocmulgee River]’Bridge is going to be
vastly expensive if we don’t do something about it. But,
we don’t have any cash. We
just put in five miles of line in and we’ve only got 240
customers - 50 inactive customers. And
all of the county’s growth is where the water is: the northern
part of the county. If we could get together with y’all
and get a loan, that $60,000 figure is going to look real
small to us. On the other hand, if we wait and end up having
to pay $300,000 to put that bridge in, that could be trouble.
Long story made short: we think we need each other."
you bring me up to speed on your system?" asked Water
Authority Board Member Mitch McEwen.
"Thirty to 40 miles of line is in North Jasper,"
said Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority Executive Director
Linda Jordan. "We get water from Newton off of Highway
212. Most of our customers are down Countyline Road."
"The pipe has to be run across the bridge; I suppose
there are other ways we connect, but that’s very expensive,"
"Is the main going to be under the highway?" asked
BCWSA General Manager Marcie Seleb.
thing is: we don ‘t know what the answer is; we don’t have
a set of plans," said Pound.
"There’s something scary
about this to me," said Butts County Water and Sewer
Authority Board Chairman J.B. White. "My
gosh, I mean, what would we do if something went wrong with
"We were told to use steel pipes," said Jasper
j County Water and Sewer Authority
Board Member Ken McMichael. "That way, there’s less
chance of something going
"It just doesn’t seem like you would want the pipes
under the pavement at all," said Seleb.
"If we could wait to do this, we certainly would,"
"You know, sometimes we make bets, Jimmy," said
Pound. "I know we do, and I ain’t ever lost one,"
said White. "Well, that’s better than most of us,"
only reason we are here is to ask for just enough help to
make it work," said McMichael. "We’re
applying for a Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority
[GEFA] grant" but with our tight finances, we don’t
even know if GEFA will approve. If you could make the
first three payments, we could make the next 17 payments."
"Y’all don’t have a whole lot of support from your
commissioners, do you?" asked McEwen.
"This is the most important infrastructure project
of the past 20 years," said McMichael. "If you
don’t have an adequate water supply, you don’t get economic
"Ken [McMichael] was appointed to this Board by the
[Jasper County] commissioners," said Pound. "He's
tried his best to get their support, but we’re not getting
"What’s your long-term plan?" asked Butts County
Water and Sewer Authority Board Member Bob Harris.
"Jasper has a fantastic source of water," said
Pound. "At the bottom of every hill, there’s water.
There’s no concern about where the water’s coming from.
We are going to have to receive funding from the [Jasper
County] SPLOST to think long-term, but we’re simply doing
what we can, which is tie in with our neighbors."
"Basically, all we’ve ever committed to is if or when
y’all needed water - if we had the capacity, or weren’t
overwhelmed by growth - we’d consider selling you water,"
said White. "Am I right about that?"
"That was actually [the Authority’s] agreement to the
[Jasper County] commissioners," said Seleb.
"Well, let’s cut to the chase," said White. "What’s
the dollar amount?"
"It would be around $15,000, wouldn’t it?" asked
much water are you getting from Newton [County]?" asked
"We’re using a very small amount of 300,000 gallons
per day," said Jordan.
"Is there an estimate of usage per day?" asked
"Six to seven million gallons per day with a population
of 6,000," said Pound.
me get this straight: you’re asking for us to donate a flat
fee- to help with no strings attached, and in the event
that it works out, we helped you get it?" asked White.
"Exactly," said Pound. "But it may benefit
you, too, down the road."
"What are the time constraints?" asked McEwen.
"We’re going through the GEFA loan, but your help would
increase our chance of getting the loan," said McMichael.
"I’ve been working for a year now just trying to make
"What if we just worked out a loan?" asked White.
"I think it might look good to the taxpayers over [in
Jasper County] and I think it will shame your commissioners
that you had to come over here to borrow money.
"If we did this," continued White, "we could
draw up a loan for $15,000 to just get you going. It might
ring a shot over to Jasper County to some of those folks."
"I don’t see why that wouldn’t work, " said Pound.
"If it’s only $15,000, maybe we could make it a three-year
loan, " said White. "The only thing is that those
10 percent of folks that don’t have water here are going
to be saying, "Why are they helping out Jasper County
if we don’t have water?"
"If we don’t get our money, we’ll just turn it over
to collections," laughed Seleb.
"I think this is good," said White. "We’ve
got the money and I think this is extending a laurel branch
to the community."
"I don’t have a problem with it at all," said
Harris. "We’ve got people that are going to criticize
us no matter what," said Butts County Water and Sewer
Authority Board Vice Chairman Emerson Burford. "Criticism
would be nothing new. I see no problem with this."
Board Member Bob Harris made a motion to loan the Jasper
County Water and Sewer Authority $15,000 over three years.
Board Member Mitch McEwen seconded the motion and it passed
The $15,000 will pay debt
services for money the Jasper Authority borrows over the
next 20 years to pay for the Highway 16 Bridge project.
After three years, Jasper will generate enough revenue to
pay the note. The proposed interconnection
of systems will only be enabled in event of emergency.
"We will pay this back and we sure do appreciate it,"
"Ya’ll might be the ones that really help us out one
day," said Seleb.
recently, Mr. McMichael of the JCWSA approached the JCBOC
about the "bridge project." He suggested they
either give the JCWSA money or co-sign on a 20-year loan.
The citizens of Butts County and the BCWSA members might
all be interested in why the Jasper County Commissioners
didn’t think that would be a wise move.
JCWSA has approximately $660,000
left over from a USDA grant according to what Mr. McMichael
told the JCBOC. Rather than using part of
this money for the "bridge project" (as suggested
by the JCBOC), the JCWSA wants to run 5 miles of line down
Jackson Lake Rd. to serve a proposed subdivision and maybe
pick up 30-40 new customers.
Quoting from the article, "This is the most important
infrastructure project of the past 20 years," said
McMichael. "If you don’t have an adequate water supply,
you don’t get economic development." Question—why doesn’t
JCWSA use the money they have for this project if it is
that important? JCWSA recently reported that D&J Pipeline
had submitted a change order for the Jackson Lake Road extension
project. The initial bid of $775,463 had been adjusted to
$584,114. The project will be completed with remaining USDA
loan funds. If JCWSA has $660,000, wouldn’t they have $75,886
left for the "bridge project"? Why is JCWSA begging
BCWSA for money?
was supposed to apply for a state grant but the application
needed to include an engineering plan. Sources have told
us that the engineer for JCWSA
delayed as long as possible to keep General Assembly from
having time to help with any grant money. At
their last board meeting in June, JCWSA said they would
get a line of credit from the Bank of Monticello. Has this
fallen through, too? Do you wonder why JCWSA has a hard
time getting loans and grants?
audited financials reveal debt of $2,436,909, and debt service
in 2006 will be $123,124. The audit for FYE 12/31/05 shows
operating revenue of $82,462.
authority of any type is supposed to stand on its own. The
house bill creating JCWSA says it is to support itself with
its own revenues. It’s not something the taxpayers are supposed
to support; the users of the system are to support JCWSA.
That brings us to how many customers JCWSA has; customer
base is essential for debt service.
After running almost 50 miles
of line for the last 4 years, JCWSA has somewhere between
210 and 240 customers. The figure varies
with every news story. JCWSA has $2.4 million of debt. Mr.
Pound is quoted in your paper saying, "The thing is:
we don ‘t know what the answer is; we don’t have a set of
plans," said Pound. He’s right. The only plan has been
to run lines where the JCWSA thinks there will be possible
Mrs. Jordan, Executive Director, said,
"We’re using a very small amount of 300,000 gallons
per day," when asked about water usage. This statement
is not quite accurate. JCWSA can purchase up to 300,000
gallons a day from Newton County; however, they buy around
33,000 gallons a day and use a portion of
that to keep their lines flushed. There would have to be
many more customers on line to purchase 10 times more water
than they are using now.
"Is there an estimate of usage per day?"
asked Seleb. "Six to seven million gallons per day
with a population of 6,000," said Pound. This isn’t
quite accurate either. A big
month for JCWSA has them buying just over 1 million gallons
a MONTH from Newton County. Mr. Pound speaks
of figures that were projected by the Bear Creek Reservoir
project. A population of 6,000 means 6,000 users on the
JCWSA system. That’s a far cry from the present 240.
The organizers of the JCWSA (who were the only ones to serve
until Jasper County elected a new board of commissioners)
told the BOC and citizens that there needed to be water
and sewer authority to bring industry to Jasper County.
After 7 years of being in
existence, JCWSA is not serving any new industry and has
not run lines to entice or accommodate new industry for
Several interested citizens, including Mr. McMichael before
he was appointed to the JCWSA board, have tried for years
to get a "pipe under the bridge" in the works
so when the new bridge was built everything would be ready.
The JCWSA board has had little interest in this project—now
it seems there’s been a change in their perspective. JCWSA
has only been interested in the "Bear Creek Reservoir"
project with Newton County for the past several years and
has failed to look at other alternatives, including Thomas
Brothers on Snapping Shoals and wells to provide water needs
for Jasper County.
Did BCWSA know about the debt, the number of customers,
the lack of plans, or any other details about the business
of JCWSA before they lent the money? Mr. McMichael informed
our BOC that it might be 2 or 3 years before JCWSA could
pay $5,000 a year on a note and therefore they wanted the
Jasper BOC to co-sign on a 20-year loan.
At the BCWSA meeting, Mr. McMichael is quoted as saying,
"The only reason we are here is to ask for just enough
help to make it work. We’re applying for a Georgia Environmental
Facilities Authority [GEFA] grant, but with our tight finances,
we don’t even know if GEFA will approve. If you could
make the first three payments, we could make the next 17
payments." Is that what the $15,000 loan is for?
To help pay JCWSA debt? What’s another $15,000 when you
already owe $2.3 million and don’t have enough customers
to make the debt service?