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Posted: May 25, 2013 6:43 p.m.

Proposed Bear Creek Reservoir scrutiny:

With the proposed reservoir nearing the construction stage, there has been no protection for the citizens’/ratepayers’ protection provided by the Newton County Board of Commissioners.

The county attorney, without question, would see to it that any contractors doing business with the county provided performance and or completion bonds on any projects, large or small. I suspect the largest contracts by the commissioners would fall into a category not normally exceeding $100,000.

However, the reservoir consultant for the proposed Bear Creek project is, in fact, the county attorney. Strangely enough, in this particular example, he has not required himself to post any bonds or guarantees or assurances of the production and cost and completion date for this project although the amount of money he has been paid over the last 15 years for work on the project is astounding.

Of course everyone already knows it has been the epitome of a gravy train for the county attorney acting as the reservoir consultant.

Maybe situations like this are the prime reason for not using persons with any type of conflict of interest.

This is not just another small project. The final costs will exceed $100 million dollars. That is money the taxpayers and ratepayers of water services will ultimately be required to pay, whether the money comes in as expected or not.

It’s a simple matter in this case. The bond, supplied by the consultant, simply needs to say, "How many gallons of production daily for how much money invested."

It would provide penalties for non-compliance. This money would be paid to the county in the event of a failure of any type. The amounts should be commensurate to the damages.

If I was driving this train, I would put the brakes on full stop until a sufficient bond was supplied by the consultant to the county. Also, there are several cities within the county whose financial future is at stake with this project. These governing boards are also negligent in not requiring protection for their citizens as well. The city of Covington’s financial future is at stake, just to name one.

What if the project fails and the revenue for the pay off is not forthcoming? Could the property tax payers afford to repay millions in new taxes?

You, as citizens of Newton County, Georgia and the cities involved in this project are remiss in the event you do not contact your elected officials and demand such protection.

The average finished cost of a facility this size around the state is in the $300 million to $500 million range. Mr. Craig historically underestimates the real costs of these projects in order to bring cities and counties to the table to coerce them to begin such projects and then, kaboom, after some point and large sums of money are spent, the ‘oops factor’ appears and costs skyrocket.

Do something useful today. Contact your local officials and tell them to stop the project until these assurances are put into place and a bond is in hand.

Samuel M. Hay, III

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