At its February meeting, the Dade Water and Sewer Authority board of directors agreed that extending the county’s sewer to accommodate a request by the Dade Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and a private landowner wishing to make a north Dade site more attractive to industry would cost far more than the $300,000 the landowner has offered to kick in for the project.
“It’s going to cost every bit of half a million,” said County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley, who also chairs the water board, at the Feb. 16 meeting.
But at its March meeting on Friday, Dade Water Authority manager Doug Anderton presented much rosier figures: Even allowing an $18-per-foot cost for extending the sewer, said Anderton—and $10-15 was probably closer to reality, he said—the sewer extension could be built for only $152,000, leaving $148,000 of the landowner’s money for the new pump station the project will require. “And I think that’s a high figure, too,” added Anderton.
He also dismissed earlier qualms about being allowed to lay pipe on the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) right of way on Highway 11. “I don’t feel like we’ll have a problem getting a permit,” said Anderton at the March 16 meeting.
All that being so, Anderton thought the authority could extend the sewer within the landowner’s proposed $300,000 contribution.
Asked this morning to explain the difference a month could make in cost estimates, Anderton said he’d been thinking of 18-inch pipe in February but after talking with engineers he’d realized 8-inch would do, and that cheaper PVC pipe was more suitable for the sewer than more expensive ductile.
Anyway, he said this morning, the jobs and prosperity new industry would bring into Dade were also an important consideration. “If there’s any way to do it, we need to do it,” he said.
But some water board members still had doubts. “If that money [the landowner’s] goes away, we’re still on the hook,” said H.A. McKaig.
Anderton assured him that was not so. The proposed agreement is contingent on IDA offering the landowner an option on the land, which itself would be contingent on a mystery industry choosing the site for a new plant. IDA executive director Peter Cervelli had made it clear last month that was a long shot. The unknown investor, he said, was looking at half a dozen other sites. “This all goes away if they don’t choose the site,” said Anderton.
Chairman Rumley corrected him that no, the agreement stood for two years, so that if any other industry wanted to take advantage of the offer the landowner would still advance the $300,000 and the water authority would still build the sewer extension.
“What would happen after the two years?” asked board member Eddie Cantrell.
“It would have to be renegotiated,” said Anderton.
“Is there a time frame pressing on this?” asked Cantrell.
No, said Peter Cervelli, except that he’d prefer to have his ducks in a row about what he had to offer prospective investors. “I’d like to say we have full agreement on water and sewer,” he said. “We can’t put the sewer in the ground. Only you guys can do that.”
Still, the board declined to vote on Friday. “This is quite a bit of responsibility we’re taking on,” said McKaig.
Another consideration was that County Attorney Robin Rogers, who also acts as IDA’s legal advisor, and who had presented the proposed agreement at last month’s meeting, was not at the Friday meeting—tied up in court, said Rumley—and that members did not have written copies of the agreement in front of them. Cantrell suggested they be furnished copies and have a special called meeting later. “There’s a lot to digest,” he said.
Anderton said this morning that the special called meeting had been scheduled for 8 a.m. on Wednesday.