2007-11-15 / Front Page

County discusses water usage at regular meeting

Water topped the agenda at the regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners held Thursday, November 8, at the Lincoln County Courthouse.

"We're in a serious situation," said Commission Chairman Walker Norman. "If we don't get rain, things are going to get a lot worse in the next few weeks. The state will require more drastic water conservation measures."

The EPD recently issued a mandate requiring the City of Lincolnton to reduce is average water production by 10 percent during the winter quarter (December 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008).

The county purchases an average of five million gallons of water per month from the city.

Furthermore, Lincoln County is one of the counties in the state experiencing Drought Level 4 conditions. Under Level 4, which is the most severe drought classification, all outdoor watering is banned, with a few exceptions.

According to Roby Seymour, director of the county's water department, city and county officials met Monday, November 5, to discuss what could be done jointly to reduce water usage in the county.

"One thing we're doing is creating a door hanger that will be distributed when water meters are read," said the director. "The door hangars will offer residents simple tips for reducing water consumption in the home.

"It's definitely going to take a joint effort between the city and the county to meet this challenge," Seymour stated.

He went on to give the commission a report on the county wells. "Two have gone dry and some are experiencing an intermediate loss of water. We cut back on the wells by 50 percent because we were getting air in the lines. This means we will have to buy more water from the city."

In a related item of business, the commission signed a resolution requesting that the General Assembly provide full funding for water planning at the regional and state levels as well as pass a statute that prevents the transfer of water from one basin to another to the detriment of current and future downstream economic growth or to the detriment of the natural health of the stream.

The resolution supports the following concepts:

(1) "Protection of river basins must be strengthened to reflect scientific knowledge and respect natural systems."

(2) "Downstream communities in Georgia rely on certain flow levels in river basins for current and future economic development, recreation, and environmental quality."

(3) "Decisions on new water supplies for growing communities should recognize that efficiency and the wise use of current resources are the best course for taxpayers."

(4) "Transferring water from one basin to another can adversely affect downstream communities and unfairly redistribute economic growth."

In further business, the commission:

.. Heard the Department of Public Safety Report given by Director Ernie Doss, who indicated that the ambulance and fire/rescue services responded to 104 calls for emergency assistance during the month of October. The call volume was up 11 calls when compared to October of 2006.

Concerning the E-911 center, operators handled 739 emergency calls last month, monitored 7,286 radio transmissions, and dispatched a total of 613 public safety, law enforcement, and fire calls.

In other items of information, Director Doss informed those present that Paul Rentz, a long-time employee of the county, has taken a job in South Carolina to be near family.

"Paul started out as a jailer for the county - he went on to serve as a sheriff's deputy, a paramedic, interim EMS director, and battalion chief for the public safety department," stated Doss. "He will be greatly missed."

In other business, the director noted that his department continues to recruit new personnel. "We have recently hired two fulltime paramedics and two part-time paramedics so we're doing pretty well with staffing."

.. Heard the Public Works Report given by Director Seymour, who said his office billed 1,326 water customers and 417 "availability" customers for a total of $48,528.52 last month.

In information concerning the boat ramps in the county, the director said, "We're still evaluating all the boat ramps, and there's the possibility that some will have to be closed until lake levels increase due to liability."

The matter will appear on the agenda for the December meeting of the commission.

Regarding roads, Director Seymour reported that his staff has been busy bushhogging; hauling sand, soil, and crush-andrun; installing driveways; straightening up road signs; and motor grading.

In conclusion, the director said the DOT has completed striping 49.12 miles of roadway in the county. Included in the project were Bethany Church Road, Prater Road, Metasville Road, Chamberlain's Ferry Road, Leathersville Road, Double Branches Road, and Amity-Woodlawn Road.

The cost to the county was $9,824.

.. Heard the Recreation Department Report given by Director Kathie Davis, who indicated that the county's football program would kick off Tuesday, November 13, with 95 children participating.

.. Heard the Finance Department Report given by Director Traci Bussey.

.. Heard the Planning and Zoning Department Report given by Director Meg Burg, who said her office issued 10 business licenses during the month of October for a total of $282.50. The county likewise received $200 in revenues for a rezoning request.

Regarding code enforcement, 43 building permits were issued last month for a total of $3,250. In addition, 123 building inspections were conducted, and two manufactured housing decal citations were issued.

In other remarks, Director Burg said, "Last month, we issued building permits for eight new residences, which will have a combined value of $1.5 million. Residential construction is definitely on the rise in our county."

.. Voted to approve two bond reduction requests made by the developers of the Providence Ferry subdivision (Phase C). The bond for road paving will drop from $582,523 to $97,087, and the bond for wa- ter lines from $142,292 to $23,715. Twenty-five percent of the total amount was withheld by the county in both instances.

.. Voted to approve bond reduction requests made by the developers of the Stillwater Coves subdivision (Phase I) in the following amounts:

(1) Road paving - $996,000 to $0.

(2) Water lines - $720,000 to $180,000.

(3) Sewer plant - $10,320,000 to $3,480,000.

(4) Sewer collection system - $560,132 to $141,783.

The total original bond amount was $13,214,988. The new total bond amount is $4,413,639, a reduction of $8,801,349.

.. Voted to grant a request made by the Lincoln County Development Authority to use $7,128.39 from the Hotel/Motel Tax Fund to offset expenses incurred during the Chinese delegation from Jiaxing City's recent visit to Atlanta and Lincoln County.

.. Voted to accept the recommendation made by the Finance Department and grant a request made by Sheriff Gerald Lawson to pay Family Concepts, Ltd. $433.55 from the Drug Education Fund for the purchase of 113 copies of the book, "The Little People's Guide to the Big World," which are distributed to students at LCES.

.. Voted to accept the recommendation made by the Finance Committee and decline to honor a request made by Sheriff Lawson to pay the National Imprint Corporation $378.83 for Junior Deputy Badges containing the slogan "Sheriff Lawson says, 'Say no to drugs.'"

.. Voted to clear the liability from the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) Fund and classify the purchase of three cardiac monitors in 2005 as General Fund (Fund Balance) expenditures. This will leave a projected $20,000 in SPLOST monies to fund rescue projects in the year 2010.

.. Voted to adopt a resolution authorizing Chairman Norman to file a new application with the DOT for assistance in funding the county's transit program.

.. Voted to approve an agreement with the CSRA Regional Development Center which will allow the county to receive reimbursement in the amount of $30,780 for meals for the Senior Citizens Program.

.. Voted to renew alcoholic beverage licenses for American Legion Post 194, L.W.'s Bait & Tackle, Soap Creek Marina, LLC, and Cliatt Crossing.

.. Voted to appoint Bob Agurkis to fill the remainder of Marcus Mason's term on the Lincoln County Board of Tax Assessors.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Norman wished all a happy Thanksgiving.

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