Board Meeting: February 27, 2023 @ 4:00 PM
PERSONS PRESENT: Gary Winchester, Eric Wilmarth, Lisa Woodruff, Harry Johnston, Nancy Martin, Barry Mansell, Becky Dabbs, Tom Heard, David Kubala, Dwayne Fowler, Darrell Caudill, Wesley Banks, Corey Ghorley, Clint Blackwell, Jennifer Arp, Joey Buice, Mark Cochran, Beth Jones, Garry Hensley, Mike Venters, Bryan Watkins, Shayne Fowler, Melanie Stephens, Greg Long, Jeff Hooper, Eric Wright, Ryan Sarks, Sharon Clark, Mark Hellerstedt, David Cheatwood, Bryce Holcomb, Robert Morrison, and Laine Wood.
Gary Winchester, Chair, called the meeting to order.
1. AN INVOCATION WAS GIVEN BY ERIC WILMARTH, FOLLOWED BY THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
2. ROBERT MORRISON, BOARD MEMBER OF THE UPPER ETOWAH RIVER ALLIANCE (UERA), ADDRESSED THE BOARD AND NOTED THAT UERA IS A CANTON-BASED NON-PROFIT, 501(c)(3) ORGANIZATION DEVOTED AND DEDICATED TO THE PROTECTION OF THE ETOWAH RIVER WATERSHED FROM THE BEGINNING OF LAKE ALLATOONA UPSTREAM TO THE HEADWATERS OF THE ETOWAH RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES. Mr. Morrison noted that major funding for many of the past projects of UERA have come from Section 319 federal grants administered through the Limestone Valley Resource Development and Conservation Council. To a lesser extent, UERA receives additional funding and assistance from Cherokee County, corporate sponsorships, and UERA members.
Mr. Morrison noted that CCWSA and UERA have been closely associated for a number of years. Until his passing, former CCWSA Board Member Gene Cornelison was one of the founding organizers of UERA and a member of its board of directors. Mr. Morrison noted that CCWSA and UERA have worked together often in past years on many educational initiatives that have reached thousands of young children in Cherokee County, promoting conservation and clean water programs.
Mr. Morrison further noted that UERA is seeking to broaden its partnerships with public agencies within the territory of the Etowah watershed. UERA feels that many of its objectives are complimentary to those of CCWSA. Mr. Morrison noted that he would like to request that CCWSA consider increasing its contribution to UERA, on an annual basis, to the sum of $10,000, or more if so inclined.
Harry Johnston noted that, as a governmental agency, the Authority Board can contribute to efforts that support the interests of the Authority and its customers. Mr. Johnston requested an explanation of the efforts that are provided by UERA that benefit the Authority, and otherwise the Authority would have to pay for itself.
Laine Wood, Executive Director of UERA, noted that UERA currently supports monitoring events that monitor the quality of the water throughout the Etowah watershed. Ms. Wood noted that the UERA is currently rewriting its strategic plan and hopes to create a documentary on the Upper Etowah in the near future. Ms. Wood noted that UERA is involved in river clean-up activities, and anticipates restarting educational outreach events that have been discontinued for the last three years due to the pandemic.
Ms. Wood noted that UERA needs funding for outdated activity books for classrooms, and noted that UERA has not requested contributions from CCWSA in several years.
Mr. Morrison and Ms. Wood exited the meeting.
Tom Heard noted that the Board may wish to consider this request in August at the time of the normal budget presentment since this item is not a part of the current fiscal year’s budget.
Jennifer Arp noted that there is a difference in data sets used by the Authority and those used by UERA. The data set on the EPD’s website for Adopt-A-Stream and used by UERA is for screening data. Mrs. Arp noted that the data set used by the Authority for reporting for the Watershed Annual Report that supports the Authority’s three NPDES permits must be approved standard methods, 40CFR Part 136, and adhere to EPD’s QAQC manual. The methods used by Adopt-A-Stream do not meet that criteria.
Mrs. Arp also noted that CCWSA currently meets its educational requirements from the Metro District and the EPD through the efforts of the Authority’s Environmental Affairs Department. Furthermore, a portion of the educational materials used by Authority staff are funded through the Authority’s budgeting process, and the remainder are provided by the Metro District.
Mrs. Arp noted that the Authority has a Memorandum of Understanding with Cherokee County whereby the Environmental Affairs Department performs watershed monitoring of Cherokee County stormwater. The data that is collected is very important since the County operates under the same restrictions as the Authority.
Eric Wilmarth noted that he would not be in favor of funding an unbudgeted request at this time.
MOTION BY ERIC WILMARTH AND SECOND BY BARRY MANSELL TO DENY THE FUNDING REQUEST OF UERA AT THIS TIME. All members voted for the motion.
Tom Heard noted that he would inform Mr. Morrison of the Board’s decision. Mr. Heard stated that he would also inform Mr. Morrison that this type of request would need to be a part of budget considerations.
3. DAVID CHEATWOOD OF FIRST TRYON ADVISORS AND BRYCE HOLCOMB OF CITI PROVIDED AN OVERVIEW REGARDING 2023 WATER AND SEWERAGE SYSTEM REVENUE BONDS. Mr. Cheatwood noted that the Authority is planning for the issuance of a series of Water & Sewerage System Revenue Bonds that will have two components:
1) A new money portion to fund various improvements to the Authority’s water and sewer system.
2) A refunding portion to refund the outstanding Series 2013 Revenue Bonds to achieve debt service savings.
Mr. Cheatwood noted that the new money component will target a project fund of $90 million and will be amortized over a 30-year period with two years of interest only payments, followed by 28 years of level debt service (principal + interest) payments. Mr. Cheatwood noted that the new money portion of the Series 2023 Bonds will be subject to a 10-year par call that will permit the Authority to redeem all bonds maturing on August 1, 2034 and thereafter at par.
Mr. Cheatwood noted that the refunding component will refund the $14,160,000 of callable maturities of the Authority’s 2013 Revenue Bonds for debt service savings. Based on estimated current market interest rates, the Authority would achieve savings of approximately $1.4 million, or 9.1% of the refunded par amount on net present value basis which equates to annual savings of approximately $165,000 per year for FY 2024-2033.
Mr. Cheatwood further noted that work is in progress on the Authority’s preliminary official statement, and stated that the Authority will be seeking an affirmation of its Aa1 credit rating from Moody’s (2nd highest rating possible) while also seeking a new credit rating from Standard & Poor’s.
Mr. Cheatwood noted that the Authority will not need to add any funds to the debt service reserve fund that provides additional security on its existing parity revenue bonds. The Authority’s debt service reserve requirement will be eliminated entirely on August 1, 2025.
Mr. Cheatwood presented the following proposed financing schedule:
• Week of March 27: Rating Calls
• March 27: Authority Board Meeting – Adopt Parameters Resolution
• March 28: File Bond Validation Petition and Complaint
• By April 7: Receive Ratings
• April 13: Post POS
• Week of April 17: Hold Validation Hearing
• April 24: Pricing; Authority Board Meeting – Adopt Supplemental Resolution
• May 10: Closing
Bryce Holcomb noted that the Authority’s status as a governmental body allows it to borrow on a tax-exempt basis. Mr. Holcomb also noted that Municipal Market Data (MMD) yields remain relatively low on the intermediate to long-end from a historical context despite increased volatility and weakening alongside treasuries throughout 2022.
Mr. Cheatwood and Mr. Holcomb exited the meeting, noting that they would return at the March 2023 board meeting for the adoption of the parameters resolution.
4. COREY GHORLEY REQUESTED APPROVAL OF A PROPOSAL BY HAZEN & SAWYER ENGINEERS FOR DESIGN AND BIDDING SERVICES FOR THE FITZGERALD CREEK WPCP HEADWORKS IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT IN THE AMOUNT OF $210,165.00. Mr. Ghorley noted that this project consists of the rehabilitation of existing headworks structure and installation of an intake bypass.
MOTION BY ERIC WILMARTH AND SECOND BY NANCY MARTIN TO APPROVE THE PROPOSAL BY HAZEN & SAWYER ENGINEERS FOR DESIGN AND BIDDING SERVICES FOR THE FITZGERALD CREEK WPCP HEADWORKS IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT IN THE AMOUNT OF $210,165.00. All members voted for the motion.
5. COREY GHORLEY REQUESTED APPROVAL OF A PROPOSAL BY FREESE & NICHOLS ENGINEERS FOR DESIGN AND BIDDING SERVICES FOR THE ETOWAH WATER TREATMENT PLANT HIGH SERVICE REDUNDANCY PUMPING STATION PROJECT IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,233,539.00. Mr. Ghorley noted that this project is Item #8 under Construction Expansion/Upgrade on the Authority’s current CIP.
MOTION BY ERIC WILMARTH AND SECOND BY BARRY MANSELL TO APPROVE THE PROPOSAL BY FREESE & NICHOLS ENGINEERS FOR DESIGN AND BIDDING SERVICES FOR THE ETOWAH WATER TREATMENT PLANT HIGH SERVICE REDUNDANCY PUMPING STATION PROJECT IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,233,539.00. All members voted for the motion.
6. DWAYNE FOWLER NOTED THAT THE AUTHORITY IS IN RECEIPT OF A PETITION FOR EXTENSION OF WATER MAIN FROM RESIDENTS OF W. STOWERS DRIVE. Mr. Fowler noted that people from four residences have signed the petition, and approval of this scope of work would require the installation of approximately 1,050 ft. of 3” PVC main. Mr. Fowler noted an estimated task cost of the line of $6,300.00, and a total purchase meter cost of $8,500.00. Mr. Fowler noted that there are five total properties in the extension area, and five properties with road frontage.
MOTION BY LISA WOODRUFF AND SECOND BY BECKY DABBS TO APPROVE THE INSTALLATION OF APPROXIMATELY 1,050 FEET OF 3” WATER MAIN FOR THE W. STOWERS DRIVE AREA AT AN APPROXIMATE COST TO THE AUTHORITY OF $6,300.00. All members voted for the motion.
7. MOTION BY BARRY MANSELL AND SECOND BY NANCY MARTIN TO APPROVE THE 1/30/23 BOARD MEETING MINUTES AS PRESENTED. Members Mansell, Martin, Woodruff, Johnston, and Dabbs voted for the motion. Member Wilmarth abstained from voting. Motion passed.
8. BETH JONES PRESENTED THE FINANCE REPORT. Mrs. Jones reported that total operating revenues are approximately $1,174,865.00 below budget projections for the period ending 12/31/22. Mrs. Jones reported that total operating expenses are approximately $858,031.00 below budget projections for the same period. Mrs. Jones reported year-to-date net income of $1,857,101.00 for the period ending 12/31/22.
9. CLINT BLACKWELL PRESENTED THE WATER TREATMENT OPERATIONS REPORT. Mr. Blackwell reported an average daily treatment of 17.900 MGD for the month of January 2023 at the Etowah River Water Treatment Facility. Mr. Blackwell reported that the Hollis Q. Lathem Reservoir is currently at full pool at 1189.2 ft. Mr. Blackwell reported a cumulative rainfall total of 61.73” for the past twelve months.
10. MIKE VENTERS PRESENTED THE WASTEWATER TREATMENT OPERATIONS REPORT. Mr. Venters reported an average daily treatment of 2.8 MGD at the Rose Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, as well as a total reuse monthly flow of 1.1 MG. Mr. Venters reported an average daily treatment of 5.8 MGD at the Fitzgerald Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, and an average daily treatment of 0.360 MGD at the Riverbend Wastewater Treatment Facility.
11. JENNIFER ARP PRESENTED THE ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT. Mrs. Arp reported that no overflows or spills occurred during this reporting period.
12. DWAYNE FOWLER PRESENTED THE CONSTRUCTION REPORT.
13. TOM HEARD PRESENTED THE GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT. MR. HEARD REFERENCED CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED FROM KRIS STANCIL, CHAIR OF THE PICKENS COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS. In this correspondence, Mr. Stancil noted how thankful he is for the relationship and partnership that Pickens County has with CCWSA. Mr. Stancil noted that, with Pickens County being a county with no major waterway, Pickens County is very dependent on its relationship with CCWSA to continue providing service to its citizens.
In this correspondence, Mr. Stancil further noted that, in reviewing records in the Pickens County Water Department for year 2022, Pickens County has discovered that they have been exceeding their allocation of 284,882 gallons per day set for their meter located at the Nelson tank. As a result of this, Pickens County has been paying the surcharge on all the excess amount each day.
Mr. Stancil noted in this correspondence that he would like to request that the allocation amount for their meter at the Yellow Creek Road tank be increased from 0 to 500,000 gallons per day. Mr. Stancil would also like to request the other locations remain the same.
MOTION BY BARRY MANSELL AND SECOND BY NANCY MARTIN TO APPROVE PICKENS COUNTY’S REQUEST TO RESERVE 500,000 GALLONS PER DAY OF POTABLE WATER CAPACITY AT A COST OF $2.50 PER GALLON, UPON PAYMENT BY PICKENS COUNTY TO CCWSA IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,250,000.00. PER PICKENS COUNTY’S REQUEST, THE LOCATION OF THE CONNECTION FOR THE CAPACITY WILL BE ALLOCATED TO THE METER ON YELLOW CREEK ROAD. All members voted for the motion.
14. MEMBER ERIC WILMARTH RECUSED HIMSELF FROM THE MEETING.
15. TOM HEARD REFERENCED CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED FROM ERIC WILMARTH, CITY MANAGER OF THE CITY OF BALL GROUND. In this correspondence, Mr. Wilmarth noted that the City of Ball Ground is requesting that CCWSA reserve an additional 50,000 gallons per day of water capacity for wholesale purchase by the City of Ball Ground.
In this correspondence, Mr. Wilmarth further noted that the City requests that the entire 50,000 gallons be allocated to the Leo Taylor Lane meter location on Ball Ground Highway. Mr. Wilmarth also noted that the City understands that, under the Authority’s current rate structure, the cost of this capacity reservation is $2.50 per gallon, or $125,000.00 for the entire request.
MOTION BY BECKY DABBS AND SECOND BY LISA WOODRUFF TO APPROVE THE CITY OF BALL GROUND’S REQUEST TO RESERVE 50,000 GALLONS PER DAY OF POTABLE WATER CAPACITY AT A COST OF $2.50 PER GALLON, UPON PAYMENT BY THE CITY OF BALL GROUND TO CCWSA IN THE AMOUNT OF $125,000.00. PER THE CITY OF BALL GROUND’S REQUEST, THE LOCATION OF THE CONNECTION FOR THE CAPACITY WILL BE ALLOCATED TO THE METER ON LEO TAYLOR LANE. All members present voted for the motion.
16. MEMBER ERIC WILMARTH RE-ENTERED THE MEETING.
17. TOM HEARD REPORTED THAT THE CITY OF WALESKA HAS REQUESTED A SERVICE AREA SWAP WITH CCWSA WITH REGARD TO THE SALACOA AREA IN CCWSA’S SERVICE AREA AND THE SILVER CREEK SUBDIVISION IN THE CITY OF WALESKA’S SERVICE AREA. Mr. Heard noted that the Authority would gain the Silver Creek water tank if this proposed swap occurs, but the Authority would also be abandoning existing customers in the Salacoa area.
Mr. Heard noted that he desires to investigate the possibility of placing a meter on the Waleska system at Pleasant Arbor in order to bring water back into the Salacoa Valley.
Gary Winchester noted that the City originally desired for the Authority to assist the City in extending the line along Hwy. 140 into the CCWSA service area. Mr. Winchester noted that the City felt the Authority could more quickly accomplish this scope of work than the City would be able to. Mr. Winchester noted that these discussions eventually led to the service area swap discussions.
Mr. Winchester noted that the City’s water rates are currently higher than the Authority’s. If the service area swap occurs, then the Authority’s existing customers in the Salacoa area would see an increase in their rates due to the change in service area.
Mr. Winchester noted that if the Authority does not desire to move forward with the service area swap, the Authority may wish to enter into discussions with the City concerning potential future consolidation of systems.
Discussion followed concerning the fact that this item is an opportunity for cooperation between systems in order make system improvements that would be mutually beneficial to both entities.
MOTION BY NANCY MARTIN AND SECOND BY BARRY MANSELL TO DENY THE REQUEST BY THE CITY OF WALESKA FOR A SERVICE AREA SWAP IN TOTAL AT THIS TIME. All members voted for the motion.
18. MOTION BY LISA WOODRUFF AND SECOND BY BECKY DABBS TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISCUSSION REGARDING REAL ESTATE ITEMS. All members voted for the motion.
MOTION BY NANCY MARTIN AND SECOND BY BECKY DABBS TO EXIT EXECUTIVE SESSION AND RETURN TO REGULAR SESSION. All members voted for the motion.
19. MOTION BY ERIC WILMARTH AND SECOND BY LISA WOODRUFF TO AUTHORIZE THE PURCHASE OF PROPERTY IDENTIFIED AS PARCEL NUMBER 2023-1 AND AUTHORIZE TOM HEARD TO FINALIZE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PROPERTY OWNER. All members voted for the motion.
20. MOTION BY BARRY MANSELL AND SECOND BY ERIC WILMARTH TO ADJOURN. All members voted for the motion.