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Group asks city for sewer help
Arnold Fund asks Covington to cover outstanding bills

COVINGTON - The owner of a pumping station and wastewater treatment plant serving Georgia Perimeter College is requesting Covington absorb up to $37,000 of installation costs of electric lines needed to power the facilities.

Brick Store Utility Company, created by The Arnold Fund to provide sewer service to the college, owns and operates a lift station and wastewater treatment plant on the east side of Ga. Highway 11.

The lift station is permanent, while the treatment plant is temporary and will be removed when there is permanent sewer service in the area.

Frank B. Turner wrote the city on behalf of The Arnold Fund requesting relief from payment of $31,290 in outstanding bills for partial costs of installation of service lines to the facilities.

Turner cited a city ordinance that states that "upon receipt and acceptance of application for service ... the city will proceed to do such work and to provide and install such equipment as it may be required to do in order to render the service, including the extension of an existing line when necessary, as determined by the location and character of the service."

The ordinance states the city will not pay more than three and a half times the estimated annual revenue derived from the service.

Utilities paid by Brick Store for the first six months of operations have totaled $5,287.61, an average of $881.27 per month. If the ordinance is applied, the city would spend up to $37,013.27.

City Manager Steve Horton said the city does not have to abide by the ordinance if it is not financially beneficial to do so, but pointed out that Utilities Director Bill Meecham recommended that the request be honored.

"Georgia Perimeter College is a major prize for the future of both Covington and Newton County," Meecham said in a letter to the mayor and council. "The same can be said for the Mount Pleasant community (a mixed-use development planned by The Arnold Fund), once it is under way. We recommend the council consider the Arnold Fund's request in light of the community benefits that are attained from these projects."

The council tabled the request Monday night at the urging of Councilman John Howard, who said he would like to do further research.

In other news, the city will buy out Newton County's ownership of 19 acres of property located across the street from the Covington Municipal Airport on Ga. Highway 142.

The county and city purchased the property several years ago as a potential industrial site, Horton said.

The site was recently cleared because trees were presenting a hazard for airplanes landing at the airport, he said.

Because of the elevation of the land, the property is likely not developable, and the county requested that the city take full ownership, Horton said.

Eventually, the property may be needed if a precision approach system - a type of radar guidance system designed to provide lateral and vertical guidance to an aircraft pilot for landing - is used at the airport, Horton said.

"We don't want to sell it to somebody who will want to go build on it, and then we may need it later," he said.

The property was appraised at $206,3000, with the city to pay half that cost to buy out the county.

"I'm displeased we're having to pay this price for what is basically totally unusable land," Mayor Kim Carter said Monday night.

"It's not a very attractive piece of property," Horton added.

City Attorney Ed Crudup said the property is "not all unusable" and a portion could potentially be developed commercially, but "It would present a possible challenge in marketing with the use and the height element."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.