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6-25-07 Oconee-Walton Water Agreement raises concerns of citizens on tax & other issues

The figures do not make sense. We have been told Bear Creek Reservoir was only a “Band-aid”. Yet we have 7 mgd capacity for less than $ 10 Million while the first phase at Walton (Hard Labor Creek) will provide 3.4 mgd at a cost of $ 45.6 Million!!!! Bear Creek came online in 2002 and now is claimed not to be enough yet the 3.4 mgd in Walton will take care of us until 2030?!?!? The numbers do not make sense!

AVOC

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June 24, 2007

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Oconee-Walton Water Agreement raises concerns of citizens on tax & other issues

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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The Oconee-Walton Intergovernmental Agreement is so long that it discourages detailed reading and review.   Assurances have been made that it is based on the Bear Creek Agreement.   SEE: Oconee-Walton.Intergovernmental.Contract.Reservoir.6.4.07.pdfx

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As one who helped formulate the Bear Creek Agreement, I strongly take issue with such claims.   The Bear Creek agreement was worked out in public and had many provisions protecting minority stakeholders.   In the Walton deal, it is more like 71% to 29% share and control!

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                   County Chairmen Sign Bear Creek Agreement                Bear Creek (UOBWA) Meetings were public    

                     in 1996 at public meeting -Oconee Civic Center     

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The figures do not make sense.We have been told Bear Creek Reservoir was only a “Band-aid”.   Yet we have 7 mgd capacity for less than $ 10 Million while the first phase at Walton (Hard Labor Creek) will provide 3.4 mgd at a cost of $ 45.6 Million!!!!   Bear Creek came online in 2002 and now is claimed not to be enough yet the 3.4 mgd in Walton will take care of us until 2030?!?!?The numbers do not make sense!

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This week, I talked to a friend who has studied the contract and is very concerned.  He talked to all the commissioners.   A majority sounded like they would vote for it.   My friend said one said something like, "Walton will have most of the cost, why shouldn't they have the say?"!!!!
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I have also talked to a knowledgeable friend in Walton County.  He said the Contract was never discussed in detail at the official meetings.  Only a couple of pages (resolution requesting the project go forward) were read at the Water Authority Meeting and only a few minutes were devoted to it.  The same superficial review took place at the BOC meeting.  The BOC basically just "ratified" what the Authority did.  My friend says there has been little or minimal public discussion of the contract in Walton County on what he calls "a $ 400 Million deal".
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It is my understanding that some Walton citizens are considering a challenge to the bond validation matter.  The Bond Validation may come up in July in Walton Superior Court.  I expect it to take place only after Oconee "signs on".   There is feeling that if the matter is delayed until after the 2008 election, there may be lack of support for the project and it will die on the vine.

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We have discussed these issues in past articles and will not rehash them.However, we will share some recent comments of others who have read the contract.

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FOR BACKGROUND, SEE:

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http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/  (Lee Becker)

6-15-07 Oconee County is moving into a huge commitment that will be around for grandchildren

6-6-07 Oconee 'delegates' taxing authority with Walton Agreement

6-4-07 Oconee to sign 50 year contract with Walton on $ 353 million reservoir project

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

3-6-07 Various thoughts and comments on the Oconee Water Decision

3-16-07 What the Oconee 3-2 (Melvin Davis) vote on Hard Labor Creek Means

1-6-07 Oconee Water needs and plans need public discussion and input –large impact on future

1-20-07 Oconee Commissioners seem determined to incur big and lasting debt for Fast Growth


6-22-07 COF, Inc Oconee-Walton Water Contract

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

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June 22, 2007

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From Charles Baugh

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Following is the text of a message from Lee Becker with concerns about the contract which Oconee County is apparently about to approve that will obligate Oconee to pay construction and operating costs in an unlimited amount for 50 years. 

I previously offered to send an e mail copy of the contract and many have taken me up on it.  For anyone who thinks I have overstated the financial danger of this contract all I ask is that you read the thing.  It speaks for itself.


June 21, 2007

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Hard Labor Creek Draft Contract

 

By Lee Becker

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Dear Friends:

 

So many things are going on in the county at the moment that it is hard to keep track of them. Unfortunately, most of these need our attention.

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A very big issue is the draft contract that the Walton County Board of Commissioners has approved and sent to Oconee County for approval. The contract defines how the two Counties will manage and finance the proposed reservoir on Hard Labor Creek, in Walton County.

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Ownership is clear. Everything belongs to the Walton County Water and Sewage Authority, whose members are appointed by the Walton County Board of Commissioners. Oconee County will have little say about how things operate.

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The Walton County Water and Sewage Authority will bill Oconee County for 28.8% of all costs. Oconee County will be obligated to pay the bills for land acquisition and construction of the reservoir based on property taxes. Annual operating costs can be paid by sale of water--if the County has enough customers.

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At this point, the most important thing is that this agreement be discussed in an open meeting at which citizens have an opportunity to ask questions and state opinions.

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Write to the Commissioners today. If you feel comfortable surrendering control over your taxes to Walton County, please say so. If you want an open discussion in which the Commissioners have to justify putting Walton County in charge of Oconee County tax revenue, please write and say that.

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Here is the contact information:

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Melvin Davis, (Chairman), mdavis@oconee.ga.us

Margaret Hale, margarethale@oconee.ga.usand marghale@aol.com

Chuck Horton, chorton@oconee.ga.us

Jim Luke, jluke@oconee.ga.us

Don Norris, dnorris@oconee.ga.us

Go to http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/ for additional information.

I'll post the draft contract in the library at the Friends web site, www.barbercreek.org as soon as possible.

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Thanks

Lee


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