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County wants a sitdown to go over Guyton offer
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Effingham County commissioners aim to hold a meeting with Guyton and Springfield officials to discuss a proposal from Guyton on wastewater  treatment.

Commissioners held a workshop Friday morning to go over the proposal.

Guyton has offered $2 million for an initial purchase of 250,000 gallons per day of capacity, with additional increments of 50,000 GPD at $400,000. The county’s price tag is $2.667 million for the initial capacity purchase and $533,333 for the additional 50,000 GPD increments.

“There are many, many details to be worked out,” county engineer Steve Liotta said of Guyton’s latest offer to the county.

The county first broached the idea of treating Guyton’s wastewater back in July 2007, Liotta said. The county’s plant, built at a cost of $8.11 million, currently has 1 million gallons per day capacity.

Commissioners weighed the capital cost recovery for its wastewater treatment plant, the plant’s capacity that would be arranged for Guyton, the reuse water generated and how it would be disposed of, the cost of treating the wastewater and the expense of the infrastructure that conveys the wastewater from Guyton to the county’s plant.

The county has an impact fee for reuse water because that is a cost that the county incurs, County Administrator David Crawley said.

Though Guyton’s offer was two-thirds of a million dollars shy of the county’s proposal, commissioners wanted to know how taking Guyton’s offer would benefit the county.

“The beneficial issue is you would get a $2 million payment up front,” Liotta said.

But doing so would leave the county at a deficit, Crawley said, because the cost to the county for the plant and treating the wastewater and disposing of the reuse is $2.667 million.

Crawley explained impact fees are based on the capital cost recovery and do not include the interest on the loans from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority. The interest and the debt service is designed to come out of user fees.

The county had offered Guyton —which has been planning to build its own 250,000 GPD wastewater treatment plant — the ability to pay as it goes instead of buying its capacity up front, paying the county every time a new user tied on to the line.

“Now they just want to buy capacity at the plant,” Liotta said. “It requires us to have a shift in thinking on our impact fees and what we would actually charge Guyton to purchase that capacity.”

The county’s sprayfield, purchased for $67,000, has a capacity of 250,000 gallons per day. Guyton, which is using about 80,000 gallons per day out of Springfield’s 500,000 GPD treatment plant, is asking for 250,000 gallons per day in capacity.

“So we have to sell them another disposal area, in essence,” Liotta said.

He also said that the county uses the sprayfield infrequently and only needed it a couple of days last month.

“The rest of the calendar year, we didn’t use it at all,” Liotta said.

The county would charge Guyton $1,200 per equivalent residential unit (ERU), based on the cost of the plant and the cost to expand the plant to 2.5 million gallons per day. The county’s wastewater treatment plant can be expanded to as much as 20 million gallons per day — and is expected to handle 5 million gallons per day at some point — and the next step in the expansion is 2.5 million GPD.

“They are not going to build a plant and get it cheaper than this,” Commissioner Bob Brantley said.

Coming to a deal with Guyton also would give the treatment plant new users. The plant currently operates at about 10 percent of its current capacity.

“The ability to gain that cash flow is substantial,” said county finance director Joanna Wright. “Over a period of time, we’re still paying on that debt and have nobody tied to it. You’re also paying on the money you’re borrowing from the general fund. Right now, it’s a win-win situation if you can come to terms.”

The county bought 500 acres for the sewage treatment plant and built on a 200-acre parcel, selling the remaining acreage. Those proceeds paid for the entire tract, according to Crawley.

“The plant is sitting on paid-for property; the sprayfield is sitting on paid-for property,” he said.

A power plant uses the county’s reuse water and an anticipated expansion could mean more use for the reuse water. Concrete plants also use reuse water,  but, as Liotta pointed out, those enterprises do not use a concrete amount of reuse water.

The reuse conveyance cost is a fixed cost, as is the infrastructure that is already in place, Crawley said. The reuse disposal, however, can be a variable.

“We’re not trying to hoodwink anybody,” commission Chairman Dusty Zeigler said. “We’re not trying to make money off this. We’ve done everything we can to whittle down our costs. I feel like we’re doing the right thing.”