Fayette seeks route to stormwater loan

By JOHN MUNFORD — The Fayette County Commission is poised to ask the Georgia Legislature to allow the county to use its Public Facilities Authority to issue revenue bonds for stormwater improvement projects.

Though it’s not a slam-dunk, if approved, it would allow the county to seek a stormwater revenue bond quicker while also saving on the interest rate, according to County Administrator Steve Rapson.

The commission Thursday night will discuss a resolution seeking the General Assembly’s assistance on the matter. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the county government complex in downtown Fayetteville.

Regardless of which funding mechanism is used for bond financing, county officials plan to spend up to $2 million from county coffers to expedite the most critical “Tier 1” projects involving flooding or safety issues that could endanger property or human life, and “Tier 2” projects that need immediate attention because they affect drainage capacity or function of the structure.

The county’s general fund would be reimbursed for those expenses from bond proceeds once they become available, Rapson confirmed.

If the legislature doesn’t approve the use of the public facilities authority for stormwater repairs, the county will issue traditional revenue bonds, Rapson said.

A two-year sales tax that would have funded the county’s $16.8 million in stormwater repairs was shot down at the polls in November, so the county needs a “plan B” for funding the repairs, which range at the high-cost end from dam repairs to smaller projects such as pipe replacement and the like.

It is almost a certainty that the county will have to pare down the scope of some of the projects to adjust to having a much smaller revenue pool to fund the repairs. At recent commission meetings, several residents who experience flooding in their homes and streets urged commissioners to move as quickly as possible on repairs.

The county’s proposed revenue bond would be backed by revenues from the stormwater fees that started last year and will be issued annually to property owners in unincorporated Fayette County.

The stormwater utility fees initially were projected to net the county about $643,000 a year, but it will probably be a bit lower now that the county has refined its credit system.

The fee is different from a tax because it is being assessed to all properties including churches, schools, businesses and homes. The fee is based on the amount of impervious surface on a given lot.

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Question for commissioners

Prior to 2013, there was a stormwater advisory committee that made recommendations. The first recommendation was to limit the extent and level of service to county owned properties and right of way.

All privately owned drainage systems including detention ponds were to be maintained by the owners. Unpermitted drainage systems tied into the county system were to be permitted and improved by the property owner, if warranted.

I have yet to read if anyone has remediated their issues on their dime.

Can you tell us if the county has utilized any of this committees recommendations or is the county planning on paying for work on any private party? And will the homeowners be reimbursed for rights of way if remediation is required on private property?

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