Effingham County commissioners like the idea of a countywide water and sewer commission.
But they want to see just how much support it has from the other governments in the county before staking any money to it. They want to gauge just how interested the cities are before they take a step forward in putting a commission together.
“I am fully in favor of putting everything into a commission,” Commissioner Hubert Sapp said. “I hate to throw money away on a study if the people are not serious about going forward. We need to get everybody to the table if they are serious about forming a commission. Then, appropriate money to make it happen.
“I will not vote in favor of another study with just one person interested in it.”
Commissioners tabled a request to fund a joint study that would look into how to set up a water-sewer commission and address it how sound it would be fiscally.
An informal group made up of representatives from the county, the cities, the school board, the Effingham Industrial Development Authority, Georgia Power and Georgia Pacific has been meeting approximately every month. Their recent discussions have included the concept of a water-sewer commission, county engineer Steve Liotta said.
But how to resolve the complex issues — such as consolidating rates and determining the value of the infrastructure already in the ground — may require a professional examination.
“One of the main stumbling blocks going forward would be the integration of the financial prospective. There’s obviously a lot of different financial considerations that come into it, the valuation of the infrastructure and the debt each entity has,” Liotta said.
“It needs to be studied professionally. It is not something we can do as entities by ourselves.”
If the ad hoc group’s study showed it can be done, it would recommend that the county and the cities back local legislation in the 2009 General Assembly session to create a water-sewer commission.
“It may be later than that,” Liotta said.
Commissioners, even in their support of creating such a commission, said they want to make sure Guyton, Rincon and Springfield are committed to it.
“We’ve got to have everybody on board before we do anything,” said Commissioner Reggie Loper, who added he too is in favor of a water-sewer commission. “If we don’t, we’re just spinning our wheels.”
“We’ve got to start somewhere,” commission Chairwoman Myra Lewis said.