Porterdale inks deal with Newton authority
City Council sells reserve treatment capacity to county water and sewer

PORTERDALE - The City Council voted unanimously to approve an agreement to sell 50,000 gallons per day of the town's reserve wastewater treatment capacity to the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority. The vote came at a called meeting Thursday evening. The sale will net the town approximately $149,000 and allow officials to balance the city budget for the current fiscal year.

The Water and Sewerage Authority agreed to buy back the reserve capacity at a called meeting earlier Thursday. Porterdale Mayor Bobby Hamby, who is a member of the authority, recused himself from the discussion and subsequent votes on the agreement.

Under the agreement, the authority will purchase the 50,000 gallons per day out of Porterdale's total reserve capacity of 600,000 gallons per day, leaving Porterdale with 550,000 gallons per day in reserve treatment capacity at the wastewater treatment plant.

For the authority, purchasing a portion of Porterdale's reserve treatment capacity will give the utility some breathing room before it becomes necessary to expand capacity of the Yellow River Wastewater Reclamation facility. The authority is currently planning for an upgrade of the plant from 3.2 million gallons per day to 4.4 mgd.

"I think we're all in agreement that it's a good deal for us, and I hope it is a good deal for Porterdale," said authority Chairman Jimmy French.

Under the agreement, the authority will pay Porterdale $400,000 for the 50,000 gallons of reserve capacity. Of those funds, $111,047 will be credited to Porterdale for the previous 11 months of payments for the town's share of operating costs for the land application sewage treatment facility. Another $25,875 will go toward Porterdale's share of the cost to replace a water line on the Yellow River bridge. In addition $113,536 will go toward advance payment of Porterdale's 2009 cost to operate the land application facility. The balance of $149,540 will be used toward the city's payments on two low-interest loans from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

Those GEFA loans - one of which was actually taken out by Newton County in 1993 on behalf of Porterdale - were used to fund water projects for the town. Porterdale makes quarterly payments of $39,300 to Newton County and monthly payments of $10,118 to GEFA for the second loan. Porterdale's total annual commitment for the GEFA loans is $278,616.

At Thursday's called meeting of the City Council, Councilman Robert Foxworth thanked City Manager Tom Fox for bringing the idea of selling the reserve treatment capacity to him last year when the city began to experience financial problems. "It saved the day," agreed Councilwoman Arline Chapman.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@rockdalecitizen.com.