WASA finances: No need to go to Tyrone

Tue, 08/28/2007 - 3:55pm
By: Letters to the ...

A gentleman at a local conference told me I ought to write about Mayor Logsdon abstaining on his pay increase vote — an issue for which he had no legal right to withhold his vote — and all I will say on the matter is I was not surprised. Such a pusillanimous act further exposes the character imperfections of a campaign that promised leadership and financial accountability.

When I read about the City Council of PTC appointing the chairman of the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority (WASA), Mike Harman, I was taken aback. After all, in 2006, then-WASA member Harman was in full support of running our sewer capacity into Coweta County to create a huge development on the other side of TDK Boulevard.

Prior to 2006, while I was still in elected office, Harman was part of a WASA coup d’etat to circumvent a signed and sealed intergovernmental agreement that called for the approval of the City Council related to any expansion of service beyond our city limits. City officials were being told WASA was going to run the service to Coweta County whether we liked it or not.

Councilwoman Rutherford and I went to a WASA meeting and told them they could expect to be sued over such an obvious violation of our contract. WASA later backed down.

Mr. Harman was quite explicit in his interview for the new council post, saying he would definitely consider expanding our sewer capacity outside the city limits. Many local residents are wondering whether Mr. Harman’s appointment to council signals a future growth boom in Fayette County or Coweta County fueled by Peachtree City’s sewer capacity.

Tyrone’s town manager, Barry Amos, has stated publicly he has some developers already lined up to fund the sewer capacity Tyrone is requesting from WASA and Peachtree City.

Councilman Harman and the WASA members bellow the same old reply as their rationale for extending our sewer outside the city limits: “We lost Photocircuits!”

Now if you review the stack of financial statements and auditor’s reports, the blubbering over Photocircuits seems shallow at best.

They really want us to believe that the loss of a bankrupt circuit board manufacturer in serious production decline long before they shuttered their operations in 2005 is a critical enough reason to allow a grave development onslaught that will negatively affect our traffic and schools.

Photocircuits’ manufacturing consisted of 140,367 square feet out of a total of 5,235,382 square feet of industrial development, and they were the largest user of hazardous chemicals in Fayette County.

Interestingly, WASA’s 2006 actual revenues exceeded the budgeted revenues by $444,903. That is just a little bit different than their sinking ship remarks. In fact, WASA saved $249,973 alone in bond interest from 2005 to 2006, and it will continue to see that savings.

For decades, Photocircuits was paying subsidized rates, as did all industrial consumers, for sewer usage even though the effluent from their plants increased wear and tear on the sewage treatment facilities. Residential users were getting the shaft with higher fees and exposure to dangerous chemicals.

The WASA members need the nerve to make some sound business decisions and stop trying to dodge the inevitable by imposing future revenue gains through promoting destructive growth.

The official city position has always been to severely limit sewer access outside our city limits. WASA has always been aware of this position and they need to act accordingly.

WASA took over the sewer system in 1997 when the city was bled of millions upon millions of dollars to purchase a decrepit pile of junk from Georgia Utilities (a bunch of developers, bankers and assorted profiteers who were more interested in self-indulgence than sewer infrastructure investment and development).

The purpose of having the Authority is to manage the sewer systems of the city of Peachtree City, and they are empowered by the state to do all things necessary to accomplish this purpose.

I will give WASA high marks on rebuilding the decrepit pile of junk and turning it into a well-run system. However, WASA’s 2006 industrial usage revenue projection was off by $130,306. Their 2006 revenue projections for things other than industrial usage was $64,990 off the mark. Even so, WASA still exceeded its total revenue projections by a sizable $444,903.

The clinical excellence is there, but the business end is anemic.

To make matters more puzzling, WASA agreed to the following, “The current [2006 sewage] rate structure was adopted in February 2002 in anticipation of the increased debt service associated with the 2002 Revenue Bonds. As can be seen that rate structure is generating adequate revenues and no change in rates is anticipated in the near future” (2006 WASA Financial Statements and Independent Auditor’s Report, p. 10).

Now wait a minute. WASA is still using a 2002 rate structure, has adequate revenues and no change is anticipated.

Why would you make that statement if your ship is supposedly sinking so badly as to cause you to actively pursue extending the sewer for ultra-high-density projects elsewhere?

Maybe there is another reason. Do not forget, the TDK Extension was all about traffic relief, or at least that was the story.

This takes us to Tyrone’s town manager, Barry Amos, telling everyone that the 250,000 gallon per day sewage capacity they purchased from Fairburn is almost exhausted. It sounds like they are desperate.

The truth is Tyrone’s current average is a mere 22 percent of their total capacity after six years of build-out on the entire Southampton commercial/residential area.

So why would they want another 500,000 gallons per day from Peachtree City? A good guess might be future high-density residential developments.

The last thing Tyrone needs is to provide services for even more homeowners and create more of a traffic and tax burden on its residents.

Tyrone mayoral candidate and current Councilman Mike Smola was part of the majority on the Town Council that chose to push for another 500,000 gallons per day. Smola as mayor of Tyrone could have serious consequences for all of us.

Councilwomen Grace Caldwell and Gloria Furr devotedly opposed the outlandish request once they got the legitimate data.

The coming sewer expansion vote for the council of Peachtree City is not about rescuing Tyrone or WASA. Instead, it is about ignoring such phony arguments and standing by the long commitment to severely limiting sewer access outside our city limits and promoting slow, quality growth in our area.

The current City Council has been tripped up a couple of times on sewer issues in the last two years. Let’s hope they do the research and vote no.

Steve Brown


Peachtree City, Ga.

[Brown was mayor of Peachtree City from 2001 to 2005.]

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mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 6:53pm.

And is still a dope in 2007.

Back to my old picture, so I can say "I don't have a dog in this fight" with real feelings.

MajorMike's picture
Submitted by MajorMike on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 7:12pm.

Brown had his faults but he was soooooo much better than Lenox. "No new taxes" Logsdon is so bad he doesn't even rate. He's either incredibly stupid, incredibly naive, or incredibly bought & paid for. After living here 23 years I can honestly say that Brown was probably the best one we've had in that period. I see that some of you Direct Pac clowns are trying to use the same dirty methods to keep Brown from being re-elected that you used last time. Don’t count on it working again, people have seen what you had to offer and it was really BAD.

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 7:16pm.

been here 3+ years. Been following the City of PTC since around 1980 or so. I wouldn't vote for Brown if he ran alone.

Hey, I'm nothing if I'm not consistent. Smiling

MajorMike's picture
Submitted by MajorMike on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 7:21pm.

I'm sure Brown is not counting on your vote.

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 7:31pm.

And if you think he would win easily in an election, you haven't been paying attention.

I would venture to say, I've been to more Council Meetings etc in my 3+ years than 95% of the Citizens here.

Still, I regret not moving here in the early 80's. Brown or no Brown, PTC is still a great place to live. Born and raised on Clayton County, made the mistake of moving to McDonough before I wised up. I had Family in Henry County telling me that was the way to go. Anyways, I'm here now and plan to stay.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Thu, 08/30/2007 - 5:49am.

Peachtree City is the very best place to live anywhere. The brown problem was just an annoying little interlude - like a pimple in an inconveinent place. Even then, PTC was a great place to live. No one person - no matter how immature or self-serving can ruin this city. Unfortunatly, the Direct PAC people thought he could ruin the town and they overreacted big time. In many ways they gave him attention he did not deserve - and I told them (my spouse was one) all that - very chilly reaction. I'm afraid if he comes back - so will they.

Glad you go to meetings and stay involved. More should instead of thinking that reading and writing here is a form of public service.

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