Coweta County Water Authority General Manager Ellis Cadenhead said there was some discontent in his county with the contract with Griffin. The contract requires Coweta County buy 345,000 additional gallons every year but the county has no growth. Furthermore, the price Coweta pays for water from Griffin has gone up 350 percent since the contract was signed.
He said the solution is to buy into the system, which he said the contract permits. He said if Coweta County is part-owner of the Griffin water system, it will pay the same rates as the city itself — no markups.
“The city of Griffin is trying to have some bonds validated and we presented a check to them to buy into the plant,” he said.
The bonds the city was having validated by the court totaled $11 million; Cadenhead said the check was for just under $7 million.
He emphasized that Coweta is staying true to the agreement it signed with the city of Griffin.
“We’re not trying to get out of (any) contract,” he said. “We’re trying to capitalize on the contract and buy into the plant.”
He said Griffin and Coweta are scheduled for mediation on Feb. 1. If an agreement is not reached, both parties will return to court on Feb. 10.
“We have a bond validation before the court,” said Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith.
During the bond validation, Coweta County exercised its option to buy into the city’s water facility.
Because of some questions — notably how much Griffin’s water-production system is actually worth — the judge continued the hearings into February. The city needs to determine how much its holdings are worth overall before it can determine the portion that Coweta County’s money will buy.
Spalding County Water and Sewerage Facilities Authority Chairman Dave Lamb had concerns Coweta County might try to get out of its contract with the city of Griffin. He said at the group’s meeting Wednesday morning that Coweta purchases 15 percent of the water Griffin produces. If Griffin loses Coweta County as a customer, it will need to make up the difference on all its other rate-payers.
“If Coweta can get out, our rates will go up overnight,” Spalding County Attorney Jim Fortune said.
Smith said Coweta County intends to honor the agreement. However, if Coweta County does buy into the system, it might affect how much water they are required to purchase.
“The price of the water depends on how many units are sold,” he said.
If that number declines, the price of water overall could theoretically go up.