Defeat was narrowly snatched from the jaws of victory yet again last week when the Liberty County Development Authority and the city of Midway seemed close to settling a 14-year dispute over billing for shared water and sewer services.
The two parties were unable to agree last week but pledged to continue working on an agreement that they hoped would be reached this week.
Each entity bills the other for the service - water or sewer - used and the billing has led to disagreement between the city and the authority.
In the most recent development Midway had installed a $70,000 meter to accurately measure water to be billed to the authority. Both parties said they had planned to complete their agreement at the LCDA’s Nov. 14 meeting.
Midway Mayor Levern Clancy Jr. attended the meeting accompanied by Bill Powell of the Georgia Rural Water Association.
The agreement broke down over discrepancies in totals reported by each entity. In one case the LCDA reported that 1,440,170 gallons had been read on the meter on Oct. 19 for a 29-day period. Midway’s figures show 906,551 gallons metered the same day for a 30-day period.
LCDA Executive Director Ron Tolley said the authority had looked forward to settling the long-standing dispute, “but when I saw the numbers . . . they’re so far off . . . .” An effort was made to contact the authority’s engineer for advice, but he was having surgery and unavailable.
Tolley said, “We need to meet with our engineers and see who’s in error here--it may be us.”
Tolley emphasized that the authority was eager to reach an agreement but needed to resolve the differences in the figures, “a discrepancy of hundreds of thousands of gallons.”
Powell urged that the authority approve a request to transfer 0.25 million gallons daily of water withdrawal from the authority to Midway. The city had asked for the additional water last year but Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division returned the permit application, saying Midway and the LCDA needed to come to a final agreement before resubmitting that request.
At the same time, August, 2018, EDP emailed Tolley: “Please continue to work with Midway on resolving any intergovernmental agreements and/or stipulations contained within.”
Development Authority Chairman Allen Brown said the authority would continue to work on finalizing an agreement, “to put this behind us and move on.”
Besides Brown, authority members Melissa Carter Ray, Graylan Quarterman and Donald Lovette attended the Nov. 14 meeting.
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