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3-31-05 Walton & Oconee Need to Talk With Dahlonega-Lumpkin about Yahoola Reservoir

The Dahlonega Nugget: "I was hoping the state would help us out of the mess they got us into."

AVOC

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March 30, 2005

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Walton & Oconee Need to Talk With Dahlonega-Lumpkin about Reservoir

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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A recent article in The Walton Tribune, March 30, 2005, reported that Walton County Commissioners may go ahead with the $ 342 Million Hard Labor Creek Reservoir.

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They need to read this article from the March 30, 2005, edition of the Dahlonega Nugget describing the State’s declining to take over their reservoir and its costs which are about $ 15,419,916 in debt to the State.

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The proposed debt on the Walton County Project is $ 342 Million or over 22 times as much as the Dahlonega project.   Reports indicate that some of the folks in Dahlonega think they were oversold on their project.  Of course, the consultants have gotten their money and moved on with the City and County left with the debt.

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Water reservoir projects sound good in the concept and planning stage but making them a reality is a long, costly process that usually extends past the terms of incumbents.

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The cost for a much less expensive Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County caused the previous Jackson BOC Chairman to “pitch fits” about the debt service during much of his term.

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JACKSON WATER SYSTEM MEETING DRAWS CROWD OF UNHAPPY CITIZENS


The Dahlonega Nugget

http://www.thedahloneganugget.com/articles/2005/03/30/news/01reservoir.txt

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March 30, 2005

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State turns down offer on reservoir

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By Sharon Hall

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The City of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County officials learned Monday that their proposal to buy back the Yahoola Creek Reservoir and surrounding property has been turned down by GEFA (Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority). City council and county commission requested the state forgive $ 1.7 million in accrued interest and turn half the remaining $ 13.5 million debt into a grant in a Jan. 27 letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The reply came from Paul Burks, Executive Director of GEFA. In a letter addressed to mayor Gary McCullough and county board chairman Steve Gooch, Burks said the reduction in principal "would jeopardize the 'revolving nature' and availability of funds to other communities."

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Both McCullough and Gooch said they were disappointed.

"But it's really about what I expected," McCullough said. "I was hoping the state would help us out of the mess they got us into."

Part of the debt - $ 3.9 million - was taken on at the state's request for the purchase of about 260 acres surrounding the reservoir, and the addition of a foot bridge.

The request was made by former Gov. Roy Barnes, with the promise that the property would become a state park.

The city, McCullough said, would not have purchased the property on its own.

The state offered two alternatives to the joint city/county proposal. Both alternatives would reduce annual payments to about $ 900,000 per year.

Alternative one would turn the 20-year loan into a 30-year loan with a 20-year balloon payment. The loan would still accrue 4 percent interest annually.

The second option would grant a three-year "payment holiday," and reduce the interest to 3 percent, although interest would continue to accrue during the grace period. It would also allow the city and county to resell the surrounding property, which the state values at $ 4 million.

Selling the land surrounding the lake is an option, Gooch said. The property was originally slated for a residential development before it was acquired for the promised state park.

"The city and county will need to get together and decide what the next step will be," Gooch said. "We'll have to look at all the options and try to find some money. I believe everyone on both the city council and the commission wants to keep the property surrounding the reservoir out of private hands. We'll have to look under every rock. I am disappointed in the state. The county, city and state should be partners in this. I hope there's some middle ground here."

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ALSO:

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3-11-05 Reservoirs, Consultants, Cost Overruns, Governors, and Attorney Tommy Craig

3-28-05 Walton Reservoir to Continue Under County Control?

3-25-04 Jasper County Struggling With Water Issues-Newton Contract

4-25-04 Water Projects -Jasper-Newton & Walton-Oconee


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