Effingham County officials want to hold off an impending state deadline on coming to terms on a service delivery strategy.
The county and Rincon are still trying to work out a solution for water and sewer service area lines. The state Department of Community Affairs has imposed a June 30 deadline but the interested groups — the service delivery strategy map will outline the water, service and fire protection areas for the county and the three municipalities — are asking for an extension.
The county is asking for a 120-day extension from the June 30 deadline.
“We have a proposal that’s going to take a lot of work to document, which means we won’t meet their deadline,” County Administrator David Crawley said.
Rincon City Council has scheduled a Wednesday night workshop to discuss a proposal for water-sewer service.
“We’re just trying to throw some things on the table that might generate ideas and bring this to some sort of a conclusion,” Rincon Mayor Ken Lee said.
Rincon council member Ken Baxley said he had two concerns, one of which involved possible negotiations with the county on the west side of Highway 21.
“We’ve got a lot of services already in the ground,” he said.
Council member Paul Wendelken said he was concerned about what would essentially be the “swapping out” of the Heritage tract with the county.
“We have water and sewer agreements and a lot of calculations have been done on those,” he said.
There is also the worry on city council’s part of the difference between the county’s impact fees and what the city charges for impact fees and who would be responsible for the difference, if the county served that area.
“Surely the semantics and details can be worked out,” Wendelken said. “My overriding question is — does this proposal benefit any citizen of Rincon? If it doesn’t, we need to work on something that does.”
Wendelken added that the notion that the argument over water-sewer service areas stems from sales tax splits is correct.
“It all goes back to sales tax breakdown being based on population,” he said. “That’s why everybody is fighting for area that has population.”
Wendelken also said he applauded the efforts in getting options on the table to discuss.
“This is a big deal,” he said. “How we get there, I’m not sure.”
An initial proposal from Rincon had the city extending service west to the railroad tracks, south past Goshen Road and east to the Savannah River.
But the county has existing infrastructure, including pump stations and water lines at Blandford Elementary School and its lines along Goshen Road and through the Exley tract, according to Crawley.
The city countered with a proposal for the county to extend water lines up to the Grandview tract — where the county has a service agreement but is located not far from the current edge of the city’s service area — and to negotiate with the city to provide sewer service to the tract. The city also asked to reserve the right to serve areas near there that may be developed as residential.
“The good thing is we’re not running pipes all over the county unnecessarily,” said county commission Chairman Dusty Zeigler. “We’re taking advantage of the locations of the facilities we have. I think that’s what it’s all about at the community level.”
The Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center has been helping in the talks between Rincon and the county. Three of the four government entities between the county and the three cities must agree on a service delivery map before it can be pushed forward.
“We have to keep moving forward and working with them,” Zeigler said