on May 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

County ready move on with sewer agreement

SENECA — As far as Oconee County is concerned, there are no hurdles to getting an intergovernmental sewer agreement worked out with the cities, a county official said Wednesday.

In fact, the only change to be done in the contract that remains in effect until 2018 is to change references to the Oconee County Sewer Commission to the Oconee Joint Regional Sewer Authority (OJRSA), County Attorney Brad Norton said.

According to Norton, the only thing keeping discussions alive over a new Sewer Water Action Group (SWAG) agreement was a recommendation by someone on the other side to extend the contract to 2024.

However, attorneys representing the cities have recommended that any talk about extending the action group agreement be dropped.

At a Sewer Commission/OJRSA Planning & Policy Committee meeting Tuesday night, Seneca City Administrator Greg Dietterrick said attorneys advised that the cities keep the length of the current contract unchanged. To tinker with a contract extension at this time, the lawyers said, would give the county an opening to renegotiate the terms of the contract or scrap it altogether.

Furthermore, the attorneys said the commission should not transition fully to the new sewer authority until the action group agreement is signed, sealed and delivered.

“I believe the municipals are in agreement to take the attorneys advice and move forward,” Dietterick told the sewer panel Tuesday.

The county, Seneca, Walhalla, Westminster, West Union and the Oconee County Sewer Commission signed the action group agreement Feb. 28, 2005. It expires March 31, 2018.

In the agreement, the county took over from the cities annual payments of $609,947 that go to paying an $8.2 million bond debt to improve the Coneross Wastewater Treatment plant in 1996. The upgrades to the plant were made primarily to increase the industrial capacity of the facility.

The agreement spells out that the payments made by the county could only go toward capital upgrades and expansion of the sewer system.

Norton said if the new sewer authority undertakes a new project with revenue bonds, then the county would want to renegotiate the terms of the SWAG agreement.

In the meantime, Norton said Oconee County Council has approved the action group agreement and that the other side has a copy of it.

Attorney Lowell Ross, who represents the Sewer Commission/OJRSA, said he received a draft of a revised action group agreement from Norton in December to which he suggested some changes. Ross said he has not received another draft.