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3-7-07 Oconee to join Walton Reservoir on split Vote – 3 to 2

Time and scrutiny will show the fallacy of this venture…. $ 48 Million for 3.5 MGD - $ 108 Million for 12 MGD. (Bear Creek-Jackson County provides 7 MGD for less than $ 10 Million!!!



March 7, 2007


Oconee to join Walton Reservoir on split Vote – 3 to 2


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc


Citizens need to congratulate and commend Chuck Horton and Margaret Hale for showing good judgment and independence in this vote.   Time and scrutiny will show the fallacy of this venture…. $ 48 Million for 3.5 MGD - $ 108 Million for 12 MGD.   (Bear Creek-Jackson County provides 7 MGD for less than $ 10 Million!!! 


I strongly believe that Melvin Davis has over-reached on this one….. The costs and water volume just do not justify this decision.   Citizens need to be shown the “hard facts” – not just assurances from Haygood, Dodd and Benko.


If we are paying $ 48 Million for 3.5 MGD capacity, that will stress Oconee Financially and offers little water over what we have.


Voters need to be well-informed on this ill-advised project well before elections in July 2008.


How many “dumb mistakes” can we afford?

3-7-07 Oconee Water Vote Draws Fire


Please tell me that we are going to get some good people to run against these guys next year.


I can’t believe some of the things that they are doing.



3-7-07 COF - Board of Commissioners Water Vote...Bad news

Citizens for Oconee's Future, Inc.
P. O. Box 1301
Watkinsville, GA 30677

March 6, 2007

Board of Commissioners Water Vote...Bad news

By Charles Baugh

The Board of Commissioners voted to join with Walton County in the troubled Hard Labor Creek water project.  Commissioners Davis, Norris and Luke voted to enter into an agreement which will ultimately cost Oconee in excess of $ 105,000,000 plus interest with the initial cost to be in excess of $ 45,000,000 and only 3.5 MGD of water.

Here is how the vote went.  Commissioner Horton moved they vote not to participate in the Walton project and Commissioner Hale seconded.  Commissioners Luke and Norris voted against the motion and Commission Davis voted against to break the tie.  Commissioner Luke moved to enter into an agreement with Walton County which was seconded by Commissioner Norris.  Hale and Horton voted against it and Davis broke the tie by voting for it.

Now Oconee will be the junior partner at 29% and Walton at 71%.  Once the agreement is signed Oconee will be selling bonds and writing checks no matter what the cost.  Once that intergovernmental agreement is signed we have essentially turned our check book and borrowing capacity over to Walton County with its 71% vote. 

I will write more about this after I have had time to think about it.  Please let Commissioners Hale and Horton know that you appreciate their vote.  Chairman Davis has been the wizard behind the curtain for fast track development.  It is good to see the curtain pulled back.   

Fast Growth 'Wizard ' Behind Scenes

3-7-07 Oconee will join Walton on reservoir


The Athens Banner-Herald



March 7, 2007


Oconee will join Walton on reservoir

$08 Million commitment


By Lee Shearer


Oconee County will join Walton County in a $ 353 million water reservoir and treatment plant on Hard Labor Creek, the Oconee County Commission decided Tuesday night.

But a pair of 3-2 votes showed that commissioners are as divided as county residents about whether to commit Oconee County to a $ 108 million, 29 percent share in the reservoir project.

In the end, Jim Luke and Donald Norris voted to join Walton County, Chuck Horton and Margaret Hale voted against and Chairman Melvin Davis broke the tie.

The vote authorizes Oconee County Attorney Daniel Haygood to negotiate an intergovernmental agreement with Walton County over shared ownership of and authority over the reservoir.

Horton, the former University of Georgia police chief, said he still is concerned about real estate scandals several years ago, when locals learned that two Walton County officials were helping to decide where to build a reservoir and also owned real estate in the area.

"I don't think there's enough bleach in this county to clean it," he said. "I know enough about it that it scares the daylights out of me."

Hale, who voted with Horton, pointed out that Walton County Commission Chairman Kevin Little has agreed to sell Oconee County water while county leaders consider other water supply options.

And, while the first-phase costs of Hard Labor Creek are cheaper than other reservoir options, subsequent phases make the total cost about the same as two other reservoir options, she said.

Utility director Gary Dodd recommended the commission join Walton County in Hard Labor Creek.

Dodd said water could run short in the county as soon as 2014.

"I just don't think the water is going to be there when we need it," he said.

The only reservoir option within Oconee County's financial reach is Hard Labor Creek, according to Jeff Benko, the county's finance director.

Taking a conservative estimate, Oconee County only can afford to borrow $ 60 million to $ 70 million, he said.

That's enough to pay Oconee's costs for the first phase of Hard Labor Creek, about $ 48 million, but not enough for the estimated $ 85 million for a project on Barnett Shoals Road or $ 86 million for a project on Jacks Creek in Walton County.

"The numbers have to prevail," Luke said. And if commissioners can't accept the terms of the intergovernmental agreement, they can reject it, he said.

Norris agreed that the Hard Labor Creek option is economically feasible.

"We can work to overcome" the problems that worry Horton and Hale, Norris said.

In a series of public meetings leading up to Tuesday's vote, some citizens urged the commission to act quickly to ensure the county has enough drinking water in the future.

But more urged commissioners to move slowly, since the county's actual growth rate lags behind the growth projections from a few years ago.

Several citizens charged that the consultants used inaccurate population projections to predict when Oconee County would run out of water.

Last summer, commissioners considered a reservoir on Barnett Shoals Road in Oconee County. The Barnett Shoals project would cost and produce about the same amount of water as Oconee's share of Hard Labor Creek, but it would be wholly owned by Oconee.

When Oconee commissioners saw the similar price estimate late last year, they again started to consider partnering with Walton County to build the Hard Labor Creek reservoir.