In an usual move, three members of the Rockdale County Water and Sewer Authority spoke out against items in the proposed Rockdale Water Resources budget at Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting in signs of growing disagreement and frustration between RWR and the Authority.
The impasse has grown to the point where a task force was recently appointed to figure out whether RWR ultimately answers to the Board of Commissioners or the Authority.
RWR's 2012 proposed $25.2 million operating budget, a 3 percent increase over the 2011 proposed operating budget, and $9.7 million capitol budget had a first read today. That budget contained about $270,000 for additional radio read water meter technology.
That amount, along with about $390,000 budgeted last year, would go towards purchasing radio read meter technology for a pilot project in District 5, which is south of Interstate 20 and east of Ga. Highway 138, and District 6, around the Quigg Wastewater Treatment Plant north of Interstate 20 and east of Ga. Highway 138, said RWR Director Dwight Wicks after the meeting.
Authority members Elaine Nash, Chip Hatcher, and Phyllis Turner spoke out during the public comments portion of the BOC meeting.
All three said they opposed spending money on "Cadillac" radio water meter technology and emphasized the importance of putting funds towards replacing leaking water pipes, dredging the reservoir, regular capital maintainence, and building cash reserves to prepare for an additional sewage treatment plant needed in 2018.
Turner said the technology was proprietary and rolling out a pilot project with that company would effectively shut the door to other radio read meters.
Nash said the Authority's finance committee had given a direct veto to the radios.
Wicks said after the meeting that about $300,000 had been saved with the new wastewater treatment process at Quigg and the money saved from that would be used instead for the radio water meters.
During the meeting, Chairman Richard Oden said, "Rockdale Water Resources is an employee of the county, not an employee of the Authority."
Nash pointed out after the meeting that the 1996 enabling act issued by the General Assembly gave the Authority, which had initially started as an Authority for the reservoir, the power to lease the water system to the county to run for 50 years.
To see a copy of the Enabling Act, go to http://www.rockdalecounty.org/docs/R199657.pdf
The task force to determine the extent of the Authority's jurisdiction includes Nash, Authority member Bill Murrain, County Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon, and Wicks.
Pridgeon said he expected the task force to come to a conclusion soon, hopefully by the end of March.