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Council votes to cut water, sewer fees in half
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The Social Circle City Council approved to temporary cutting water and sewer fees in half to spur home construction.

Builders will now pay $2,000 for water and $2,250 for sewer tap fees for new homes using 5/8-inch water line inside city limits between now and September. Social Circle Mayor Hal Dally said before Tuesday's council meeting that builders approached the city seeking a break on the fees.

“Other cities are doing this to give a little relief, and we want to do that and make sure they build here and stimulate our local economy,” Dally said.

New residential construction is targeted specifically for Windsong and Town Park subdivisions to complete build out for those neighborhoods. Overall, Social Circle's inventory of residential vacancy stands at 3.3 percent, which Dally said the city was “in pretty good shape” compared to other communities.

Councilman Steve Shelton included commercial and industrial properties in his motion to approve the tap fee reduction. He said the same break should also be applied to new businesses.

Dally offered to handle business tap fees on a case-by-case basis, but Shelton said no.

“I don't want to hold them up. If that's going to make them come here, then do it all the same -- cut it in half,” Shelton said. “We can reevaluate in six months.”

The council voted unanimously with no other discussion.

The reduction in tap fees for businesses will vary based on the size of line used. For a new business on a 1-inch water line, the tap fee will be $3,750 compared to $7,500. For a 2-inch water line, the reduced tap fee is $12,000 compared to $24,000.

City pushes natural gas

Social Circle joined a low-cost loan program through the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia for natural gas customers to finance new gas appliances. Anyone who has owned a home for 2 years and a good payment history with the city is eligible for a loan of up to $5,000 at zero percent interest for 60 months.

Some council members expressed concern over liability for managing a loan program. Scott Tolleson, MGAG member manager, explained to the council how any loan defaults would be covered by the authority's revolving fund for the loan program.

Tolleson said the purpose of the program is to not make money but encourage residents to switch utilities from electric and propane to natural gas. Existing natural gas customers can also apply for a loan through the program to upgrade appliances.

Payments on the loan are included on the city's monthly utility bill until the balance is paid off, Tolleson said.

Essay contest winners

Local student Slate Allgood was named the winner of the annual “If I was mayor for a day” essay contest by the Georgia Municipal Association and locally administered by Social Circle's Better Hometown program.

Runners up are Jay Kendall Morehouse, Erin Meadows and Mark Slaughter. The contest is open to sixth grade students. Regional essay winners will attend a luncheon hosted by the GMA in Atlanta in April with their teachers, parents and mayors.