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3-16-05 Water Authorities, Newton & Walton Counties & Attorney Tommy Craig

Consultant money is big business! Water and Sewer projects and control are big sources of business for consultants.


March 13, 2005


Water Authorities, Newton & Walton Counties & Attorney Tommy Craig


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.


AVOC has been monitoring proposed changes in the Water & Sewer Authorities in Walton and now Newton County.   The Walton County change was sought by the Commissioners with considerable public support.   A pubic relations campaign was conducted against them by authority members and personnel who strongly opposed the change.

SEE: LINKS BELOW AND         1-7-05 Walton Commissioners Question Mailers by WCWSA


In Newton County similar legislation was sought by the County but the cities and Authority say they were not aware of it and oppose it. According to Chairman Aaron Varner (Newton Citizen on March 12, 2005) said he believes County Attorney Tommy Craig contactedExecutive Director Mike Hopkins about the proposed changes several weeks ago. He said Craig was charged with setting up a meeting with the board but didn’t know whether that had taken place.


According to the Covington News on March 9, 2005, the Newton proposal -- which was submitted to (Senator) Douglas by the office of the County Attorney.The article also reported County Attorney Tommy Craig was on vacation for the week, according to his office, and could not be reached for comment……….


Tommy Craig is the long-time Newton County Attorney and has also served as Attorney-Consultant for the Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority.   Walton County, the Newton Water & Sewer Authority and the Newton County Cities have different legal counsel.


Reflection on these two situations and different positions is interesting to say the least.Consultant money is big business!Water and Sewer projects and control are big sources of business for consultants.


The Covington News



March 9, 2005

Covington, Oxford, Porterdale unaware of plans to restructure Water and Sewerage Authority, despite county claims


By Bill Whitehorn & Rebecca Thomas


Few of Newton's city leaders were aware that a proposal concerning a restructuring of Newton's Water and Sewerage authority was a bombshell.

Few were aware, in fact, that the potential Georgia House Bill -- which calls for the termination of board members elected by the cities and places the division under county control -- existed at all.

And now with rumors of government secrecy manifesting into conversation and conversation into an all out public outcry, local and state officials are effectively backing away from the proposal, as individuals are wont to do in the presence of a bomb.

"This never got to bill form," Douglas said of a proposal now in his possession,…………..

The problem? Virtually every city official in the county has claimed complete ignorance of the suggestion.

The now shocking proposal -- which was submitted to Douglas by the office of the County Attorney -- that came to rest on the senator's desk apparently bypassed the very entities that supposedly signed off on it.

According to officials in all three major municipalities, their consent has been figuratively forged, and the act is now a discussion and a called vote away from becoming law……..

Covington up in arms

Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner confirmed that the proposal was in an effective "holding pattern," after a conversation with Holt, but added that the county's past relationship with the municipalities needed to be kept in the correct context.

"We felt communication [about the bill] had taken place; the municipalities felt we had not," he said. "There was a [communication] breakdown, but we don't know where it happened.

"I don't think it's fair to say we're doing something stealth," he continued. "To say we're trying to do a power grab is not our intention at all."

District 2 County Commissioner Ronnie Dimsdale and Rep. Holt expressed an interest in continued communication with city officials and declined further comment on the matter.

County Attorney Tommy Craig was on vacation for the week,according to his office, and could not be reached for comment. ………

Covington's City Council vociferously decried the proposed legislation Monday evening, questioning how the will of the city governments could have been "circumvented," according to Council Member John Howard, who questioned the general legality of the document.

"This act revised the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority," Howard said. "Nobody, as far as I know, in the city councils of Oxford and Porterdale knew about this. We want to know what happened.

"It's wrong, and I hope it never happens again," he said………..

Council Member Michael Whatley, an NCWSA board member, said he was unaware of the proposal until the last couple of days and suggested the Authority would attempt to block the legislation through legal means if enacted.

"The purpose," Whatley said, "was to make the Water and Sewerage Authority a branch of the [county] government -- it seemed to come secretly again, in the night.

"We need to discuss this publicly. ... We need to see about getting a cease and desist [order]."

Attorneys for the NCWSA similarly claimed that "nobody at the top knew anything about it."

County attorneys said the issue was discussed Tuesday at the BOC's bimonthly meeting, and then again at a special called meeting Thursday, when a version of the restructuring was approved by the BOC with a 4-1 vote………………..

-- Rebecca Thomas - Senior Staff Writer

3-9-05 Proposed Newton County Water Authority Changes Brings Questions from Cities


The Newton Citizen



March 9, 2005


Surprise resolutions raise cities’ ire

By Crystal Tatum

COVINGTON - Legislation proposed by the Newton County Board of Commissioners that would restructure the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority and the Newton County Recreation Commission has municipal leaders and authority and commission members crying foul.

Municipal leaders’ concerns have led state legislators to put the brakes on pushing the resolutions through the General Assembly until the county and cities can come to a consensus.
Water and Sewerage Authority

In separate meetings Monday night, Covington, Oxford and Porterdale city council members expressed displeasure over the reorganization of the Water and Sewerage Authority. Currently, the authority’s board of directors is composed of nine members and includes representatives from all three of those cities, along with board appointees.

Under the proposed legislation approved by the commissioners at a called meeting Thursday night…....The authority is a self-governing entity, and contrary to popular misconception, is not owned by Newton County.

The county is responsible for producing potable water, which it then sells to the authority.

The structure of the authority’s board of directors has not changed since it was formed in 1970, although the county has taken over full responsibility from the cities, commissioners say…....

Covington City Council members John Howard, Roger Tingler and Mike Whatley said they were upset that the board did not consult any of the municipalities before taking action on the matter……..

Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner said he believes County Attorney Tommy Craig contacted Executive Director Mike Hopkins about the proposed changes several weeks ago. He said Craig was charged with setting up a meetingwith the board but didn’t know whether that had taken place.

Craig is out of the country and could not be reached for comment. Hopkins also could not be reached for comment………….


The board member said he believes the commission passed the resolution with the intent of rushing it through the General Assembly days before the session was over, without consulting key players.
“I don’t know if it was illegal, but it damn sure was unethical,” he said of the way the resolution was handled……………..

Staff reporters Aimee Jones and Kevin Culpepper contributed to this story.

The Newton Citizen                   March 10, 2005



Cities speak against water authority changes

By Crystal Tatum

COVINGTON - The cities of Oxford and Porterdale, along with the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority Board of Directors, are drafting resolutions expressing their opposition to proposed changes to the authority board……….

He theorized that commissioners are attempting to control growth by controlling where infrastructure goes.

Under the initial resolution considered by commissioners, the authority, now a self-governing entity, would have been under the county’s control……..


District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming said he doesn’t know how that language got in the original resolution, but it was not the board’s intent to take away the powers of the authority, which is why it failed.

We don’t need to go there. We’ve got enough to deal with, department wise. How that got in there ... that was a surprise when I read it,” Fleming said…..



8-5-04 Time to Get Input on $ 342 Million Walton Water Project

8-22-04 Questions About the Walton Hard Labor Creek Project Part 1

8-22-04 Questions About Walton Hard Labor Creek Water Project -Part 2

8-19-04 (Walton) Water Authority Will Not Seek County Bond Backing

8-21-04 Questions About the Walton Hard Labor Creek Project Part 3

8-26-04 More News from Walton County on Reservoir

12-22-04 Reports - Walton BOC Voted to Dissolve the Water & Sewer Authority

1-7-05 Walton Commissioners Question Mailers by WCWSA

3-14-05  ((Walton Authority) Takeover bill hits house

The Walton Tribune http://www.waltontribune.com/story.lasso?ewcd=89fc94e66b9cf0ea

March 6, 2005               By Brian Arrington

(Authority) Takeover bill hits house

WALTON COUNTY - As scheduled a bill that would ultimately transfer control of the Walton County Water Sewerage Authority to the county was introduced on the House floor Wednesday.

But it didn’t go exactly as planned.

For the second time in as many weeks, the county’s takeover plan was in jeopardy, this time hours before it was scheduled to be introduced to the state House of Representatives.

The delay came to the surprise of county officials.

At the Monroe Rotary Club meeting Monday afternoon, County Commissioner Kevin Little told a room full of meeting attendees, the bill was expected to “drop” Wednesday.

It was nearly two weeks ago when the county’s legislative delegation told county officials that there were still questions about the bonding process that needed to be answered before they could put the bill forward. After receiving assurance that previous concerns about the bonding issues were cleared up by the state Attorney General’s office County Attorney Ken Lander was confident the bill would be introduced as planned.

As late as Monday afternoon, a member of the county’s delegation told the Tribune that the deal was ready to go through.

Then Tuesday afternoon word was the deal was again in jeopardy, that somehow a referendum would be used to gauge public support of the takeover plan.

County officials cried foul, calling it an “illegal straw poll”.    Putting the takeover proposal in the hands of voters before having it voted on by the legislature would not sit well with county officials.

It was feared that a referendum would delay the takeover, freezing potential deals regarding the proposed water reservoir. After all, a main reason the county wanted control of the WCWSA to better facilitate such a deal, officials have said.

On Thursday, Lander said the deal was back on. The bill, introduced by state Rep. Jeff May (R-111), was “dropped” as scheduled Wednesday.

The bill could be approved by both the House and Senate by late this week…………..