The Henry County Board of Commissioners held a public meeting at 9:00 a.m., on Wednesday, June 30, 2004, in the Community Room, County Administration Building, 140 Henry Parkway, McDonough, Georgia.  Notice of this meeting was posted on the bulletin board in the entrance foyer of the County Administration Building.  The Daily Herald was notified of this meeting.  Those present were:


            Leland Maddox, Chairman, presiding

            Lee Holman, Vice-Chairman/District V Commissioner

            Warren E. Holder, District I Commissioner

            Gary M. Freedman, District II Commissioner

            Jason T. Harper, District III Commissioner

            Gerry Adams, District IV Commissioner


            Also attending were Patrick Jaugstetter, County Attorney; Susan B. Craig, County Clerk; Danny Taylor, Economic Development Division Director; Michael Harris, Public Works Division Director; Jim Luebbering, Stormwater Manager; and others.


            Commissioner Holman made a motion to accept the Agenda as published; Commissioner Harper seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 5-0-0, with Commissioners Freedman, Harper, Holder, Holman and Adams in favor.


Presentation by ARCADIS Regarding the Stormwater Utility:


            Chairman Maddox stated the purpose of this meeting is to discuss the Stormwater Management Utility program, which the County is mandated by the State and Federal government to implement. 


            Mr. Luebbering introduced new employees in the Stormwater Management Department.  He introduced Ms. Jennifer Toller, who has a biology degree and experience with environmental permitting and working with NPDES, and Dave Barkowski, P.E., who was the Assistant Stormwater Manager for the City of Griffin.


            Mr. Luebbering stated ARCADIS representatives will present the Stormwater Management Utility Ordinance and have a Powerpoint presentation on the rate methodology and discuss events which have occurred over the last three months to put this together.


            Mr. Anwer Ahmed, Project Engineer with ARCADIS, introduced Mr. Pete Yakimovich, who will be making a majority of the presentation today on the rate study.  He also introduced Mr. John Dean, Principal in Charge of this project with ARCADIS.


            Mr. Ahmed reviewed some of the items discussed with the Board of Commissioners on the May 20th Work Session.  He passed out a handout to the Board showing the NOI presented as Appendix A on the report, Appendix B as the plan of service, and Appendix C as the 5-year budget.  As discussed in the last meeting, their study explored several options for funding the program, including revenue taxes, grants or loans, and fees.  He stated fees were the most equitable to fund the program. 


Commissioner Adams said he wanted to stress this is mandated by the State and Federal Government. 


Mr. Al Storey, who lives on Brannan Road, asked why other counties were not doing this.  He said he had five (5) different county property taxes, and Henry County is the only one involved in this. 


Commissioner Adams said all counties are mandated, and if they have not started, they will soon because it is a State law. 


Mr. Storey said he had fifty-one (51) acres and the County took three (3) of his acres for a road.  He said this road will dump water on his property, and he will have to pay for this water on his property.  He said this does not make sense.


Commissioner Harper asked for the audience to hold their questions until after the presentation of ARCADIS.  He stated all of the questions would be answered by the Stormwater representatives.


Mr. Pete Yakimovich said the decision the County has to face is what is the best way to pay for the program outlined in the NOI, which is mandated.  He stated this is a service fee that is provided by the County on behalf of all the property owners in the County.  Mr. Yakimovich stated when looking at a service fee for stormwater, there are three (3) factors viewed to drive the cost. The primary one is how much hard cover imperviousness is on the property (roof tops, driveways, sidewalks, out-buildings, and places where cars are parked).  Impervious surfaces impact the cost of this program directly both in water quality, the quantity of water, and the kinds of activities the County has undertaken.  He said they do not consider what the economic value of the property is; the only concern is how much impervious area is on it.  That is what drives the cost of this program.   Mr. Yakimovich said the next factor is the service area size, and thirdly, is the number of parcels.  He stated these are the three (3) things they consider when looking at the rate study for stormwater.  


Mr. Yakimovich said there are a number of methodologies across the Country that have been employed, and there are over 400 stormwater utilities across the Country.  There are three (3) methodologies that seem to make the most sense for Henry County: 1) impervious area, 2) impervious area plus gross area, and 3) intensity of development, which assigns a value to a property based on how intensely developed it is.  


Commissioner Holman asked how would they measure impervious area. 


Mr. Yakimovich said they have looked at the database and there are some ways of measuring without having to go out on the property physically.  The County has a GNS database that shows impervious areas on the mapping.  He said of the 51,000 parcels in the County, 45,000 of them are classified as single-family residential.  Within that 45,000, most of them are smaller lots (less than 2 acres) with a typical structure (a house, driveway, out-building, etc.).  The range of imperviousness on these is not a lot, and there is a way of getting to that and still having it tiered.  We are not measuring residential parcels; however, there are approximately 6,000 parcels, that by August 2nd through a database, will completely and accurately assess the impervious area on those parcels.  These are commercial, industrial and institutional parcels, everything except single-family residential.   He said to answer your question, it is measured to the right degree of accuracy. 


Mr. Yakimovich said there are a number of rate factors used.  One of them is a runoff unit.  For example, when you have a waste water utility, for every 100 cubic feet used, it will measure every ounce or drop; therefore, we do not measure every square foot of a piece of property.  We measure rounded off to what came out of this study of 2,000 square feet which was a valid unit to use for runoff, and we have to be accurate within 2,000 square feet.  Mr. Yakimovich said everyone is treated the same and for every 2,000 square feet, there will be a charge made.  Like any other utility, it will be rounded up to the nearest whole unit. 


Mr. Yakimovich explained a statistical analysis was done on every single-family residential parcel out of the database.  The area of the parcels was studied and we took a statistical sample at random of all 45,000 and discovered the impervious area was in this range on the size of the property.  Out of this came three (3) tiers of rates for residential.  Base minimum rates, like any other utility, will create a minimum bill.  He recommended the minimum bill be the smallest residential parcel; that is valid because everybody impacts the cost of services.  Regarding uniform rate per parcel, this is a straight cost to maintain the database and keep it up to date, which is in the rate study.  A fixed charge per parcel will be added on to the other charges applied to that parcel; it is a uniformed fixed charge.  Mr. Yakimovich said in this case, the recommendation was $2.19 a year per every parcel. 


Mr. Yakimovich said there are three (3) things being looked at on each parcel.  The first is impervious area; for every 2,000 square feet, $17.93 will be assessed against that parcel.  Regarding the gross area factor for every acre of property, the cost of service related to the service area will be charged $2.66 per area unit per year.  The administrative charge (a fixed charge) will be $2.19.  He said there are three (3) tiers in the residential parcels.  In the first tier, there were a lot of properties in the 1.25 acre size, and they tend to have at least 2,000 square feet of the pervious cover.  Tier two is .25 to one acre, and larger than one acre and 4,000 square feet of the pervious area were assigned tier three.  


Commissioner Holman said based on the calculation, Mr. Storey, who owns approximately 50 acres of land, will be paying $200 a year and asked what service the County will provide to him for that $200.


Mr. Yakimovich said the services the County will provide are all delineated in the NOI.  He said people are being assessed not based on how much value it brings to them; it is what the County has to do and the impact that the property has on the cost of service is proportional to that fee.


Commissioner Holman said the question is a fee versus a tax.  He proposed we uniformly assess a millage rate to every citizen in this County.  If the law requires us to do it, this is nonsense to go out there and try to assess the impervious area.


Commissioner Freedman said he did not think that was a completely valid statement just made by Commissioner Holman.  It is not equal; a service station that has concrete driveway and pads has a lot more runoff than a residence.  He said he would never say there is equality there.  A shopping center is almost all impervious surface; there is more runoff.  To say a residence should pay the same amount as a place of almost all impervious surface is not realistic. 


Commissioner Holman asked, “how do we deal with the cities since they have more impervious areas, and are they mandated as we are?”


Mr. Yakimovich said except for Locust Grove, all the other cities within the County have their own program and are required under the State law to do this as well.  What method they choose to fund their program is up to them.  He said this fee that is being proposed is not being assessed within the municipal bond regions of those communities; it is only the unincorporated area where service is being performed. 


Commissioner Harper said, “the reason I do not like doing it by area (and upping the charge for Mr. Storey to $200) is because we are no longer a rural County.  Development is causing the runoff, thus creating the problem and forcing this mandate.  Now suddenly, the ‘old’ couple who has lived here for 50 years with 200 acres, gets an enormous bill from the County that they cannot afford to pay.  That, to me, is inequitable; I do not like that.”


Mr. Yakimovich replied, “this is not the only way to do it.  We have other options, and if the Commissioners feel like that’s the best way to go, it will not take much to adjust the formulas to do that.  This can be done in time for the ordinance to be passed.”


Commissioner Freedman said most of the runoff is basically coming from the large impervious areas such as developments and shopping centers.  He said if we are going to talk about where the impact of the runoff and sedimentation is located, that is where the earth is being disturbed.  He said he is getting the feeling the Board is saying, “we need to look at where the impact is coming from (development and impervious surface) and not put this on the backs of the residents already here.”


Mr. Ahmed stated McDonough, Stockbridge and Hampton have moved on to the Phase II stormwater regulations.  They have all prepared stormwater programs and submitted their current obligations for the NOI.  He said Stockbridge is very seriously considering stormwater fees to fund their part of the program, but he did not know what McDonough or Hampton were proposing to do.  But at some point in time, they will have to decide whether to discontinue to fund the program through the General Fund or other means. 


Commissioner Holman said the cost has been quoted of $100,000 to maintain the planning and the GIS and that must also apply to the cities.  He asked if the cities are planning to come to our GIS and utilize our information.


Mr. Ahmed said Stockbridge has their own GIS system, but there are certain activities that are performed by the County or jointly conducted between the County and the cities when it comes to GIS, such as aerial mapping.  He said there are certain sharing of data between the County and the cities.  Mr. Ahmed said Locust Grove did not meet the threshold requirements based on the 2000 census data and are not in the program. 


Commissioner Holder stated there are certain taxes that everybody pays whether they live in an incorporated or unincorporated area.  He said stormwater does not stop at the city limits; more is created there and runs into the County.  He stated his problem is we are going to have five (5) stormwater utilities within Henry County, because with Locust Grove annexing 1,400 acres at one time and proposing to be the largest city in Henry County, they cannot continue to duck the idea they did not meet the threshold.  He asked why every citizen, regardless of where they are located, could be required to be part of this stormwater program, and where the greatest amount of imperviousness is located is certainly within the cities.  He said we have talked about what we are going to charge residents today to fund the program.  Commissioner Holder said he represents the majority of the watershed area in Henry County.  He asked if the purpose of this was to improve the water quality.  If so (and using Mr. Storey’s property as an example), does Mr. Storey get credits for trying to “improve” the water from the runoff?  He said we have discussed how much we are going to charge per acre, but are any credits given back for trying to “do the BMP’s” and do the best management practices to improve the water quality, which is the basis of this whole program.


Mr. Yakimovich said the County is proposing to implement credits to the extent that those kinds of facilities reduce the cost of this program and assist in reaching the objectives in water quality.  However, there is a certain amount of effort that has to go into determining how much credit and under what circumstances, etc.  One thing the program is calling for is a Master Plan, which is the essential element of being able to put the right value on that credit. 


Mr. Jim Luebbering, Henry County Stormwater Manager, stated we are collecting for the minimum program that the mandatory requirements need to do.  There is nothing in this about a 5-year capital improvements program or money to replace large culverts or bridges that may be washed away in a large flood.  He said this is to meet the mandatory, minimum, un-funded mandates; thus, we have decided to not go with a credit at this point.  He said what is planned is to use the money to maintain all residential stormwater detention structures where we would either have our own equipment and people to do it or farm the work out to qualified contractors.  Mr. Luebbering said at a later date, we would put together a credit system in year two or three, and the credits would be applied to everybody who is non-residential.  If the municipals, such as gas stations and grocery stores, maintain their own ponds, we would give them a credit whether it is 10%, 20% or 50%; that is down the road.  Mr. Luebbering stated putting together a credit system is almost as much work as what we have done so far with the impervious database; it is a huge task and should be done when we have a 5-year capital improvements plan.


Commissioner Holder stated he felt the fee should be assessed on the imperviousness (where the actual runoff is created).  


Commissioner Freedman said, in looking how to pay for it, adding to peoples’ property tax bills is not the way.  Imperviousness is the #1 issue; so let’s put the cost on where it is generated, where the imperviousness is, and not the homeowner. 


Chairman Maddox said that today it has been said that whoever owns property will have to pay for this.  In Washington D.C., there has been talk about a National Sales Tax.  He said we are going to be doing this for everybody.  What will apartment dwellers pay?  The service will be for them also. 


Mr. Luebbering answered the owner of the apartment would receive the bill and then divide it among the number of units. 


Chairman Maddox said regarding the developments going on in Henry County, curb and gutter is channeling all of this water together.  His suggestion was when we create a development, we should discontinue installing the curb and gutter so the water could flow off on the side of the road and filter itself, and then we would not have to go through all of that as long as it is being channeled down to a certain area.


Mr. Luebbering stated when he was in North Carolina, they were steering away from curb and gutter, and they showed if you could disconnect the impervious and install grass swells and install infiltration trenches, the impact could be reduced. Mr. Luebbering said he agreed with the Chairman’s suggestion. 


Commissioner Harper said, “we have to provide fire protection, police protection, indigent defense, and indigent healthcare which are mandated to provide, yet we do not go out and assess an additional fee.  Last year’s budget for the County was $86 million; this year’s budget is $93 million.  We did not raise the tax rate, but by the growth rate of this County (new businesses, new homes, etc.) the tax base continues to grow.  We are not a stagnant economy in Henry County.  We currently have a $7 million surplus that is unallocated.  When talking about the first year cost at $1.2 million, rather than assess a fee to the residents of Henry County, why do we not absorb that cost with the $7 million surplus and pay $1.2 million, and we would not be having this hearing.  It is a government service and we’ve got the money to pay for it and let’s pay for it and move on.  We do not need to pass an additional tax nor an additional fee to cover it.”


Commissioner Freedman said to use that $7 million to pay for something like this is a fee, and he would not support it because the Board has too many requests against that pot of money.  He said the cost should be where the impact is.  If the impact is coming from the impervious surface from the commercial and industrial, put the cost there.


Mr. Leubbering stated he did not want the County Attorney to have to hire more lawyers to defend whatever we do.  He said we want to set up the best program and the most acceptable program at the least cost, and that is why we went with the stormwater utility mainly driven by impervious surface, because it is the most accepted. 


Commissioner Holman said if we take the $1.2 million from the $7 million, what that will lead up to is next year when the Board adopts the budget, we will end up assessing that into our millage rate. 


Commissioner Harper stated, “last year’s budget increased by 9% without an increase in the millage rate.  It was said that next year we would have to up the millage to account for it.  Every year we have grown by 7% to 12%; last year it was 9%.  If we have a 9% growth rate again next year, our next year’s budget would be $101 million.  That would mean we would have an additional $8 million that we would be looking at next year.  I agree commercial should be priced more; they have far more impervious surface than a residence.  I will not agree to charging by area on a residence; I will not support that.  But look at the property tax base; who gives us that $101 million?  It is the property owners.  Commercial pays more on property taxes; let’s don’t up the property taxes; let’s just take it from the existing source of revenue.”


Commissioner Holder asked what service are we providing through stormwater management for the people?  What have we done at this point to improve the water quality in Towaliga Reservoir or Tussahaw Reservoir or any of the reservoirs from which we drink?  Nothing.  “To me, that is justification to take these peoples’ money and all the peoples’ tax money that have already paid in and fund this first year.  There is no question the budget will not be able to handle that at some point in time.”


Mr. Luebbering said some of these projects are going to take several years to complete, and we need an ongoing steady source of revenue. 


Chairman Maddox said the property owners get the “shaft” all the time.  If we are going to make the water better for everybody, it is time for everyone to participate, not just the property owners. 


Commissioner Harper made a motion as follows:


WHEREAS, the Federal and State Governments have mandated that Henry County create a stormwater management program and,


WHEREAS, Henry County has set up the stormwater utility at an estimated cost of $1.2 million the first year and,


WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners has heard presentations as to the funding mechanisms available and,


WHEREAS, the funding can come from the County’s General Fund $7 million surplus.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the utility shall be funded from the County’s General Fund with no additional fees or taxes levied against the citizens for this purpose this fiscal year. 


Commissioner Holman seconded the motion.


Chairman Maddox said he agreed with the resolution, but did not know if it should be voted on today.


Commissioner Freedman said the $7 million was not a surplus.  He stated after we paid for everything, there was $7 million left over and that is not a surplus.  That is $7 million to run the County beyond what we funded for last year.


Commissioner Harper said he would not vote for a tax; he would not vote for a fee.  He said we should “float it” the first year; we can afford to do that.


Commissioner Holman said what we are about to do is take $1.2 million that we did not plan for, and Commissioner Freedman has shared with us that we have $33 million of “wish lists” from our departments, so we are taking $1.2 million from the $7 million and somebody in this County is going to suffer by either a road, a park or something not getting done.  We are under-funded to provide this service for the stormwater fee.  Commissioner Holman said he was, however, in support of what Commissioner Harper had “floated.”   He said we made a mistake and did not put this in our budget when we adopted the $93 million. 


Commissioner Holder said he was in agreement with the resolution Commissioner Harper had presented, but Commissioner Holman sounded like he is contradicting himself.  He said it looks like we are saying, “we are going to fund this but yet we are going to come back and raise your millage.”  He said as far as he was concerned, we have $7 million (call it what you want to) of uncommitted funds.   He said let’s pay the $1.2 million because the people have already paid that. 


Commissioner Freedman said the Chairman has put in the paper we are going to increase Police and Fire; that is not in the budget.  He said if we are going to increase that, which people are demanding more of; that is not a “wish list.”  That is an absolute demand that the people want in this County.  He said if you take the $1.2 million out of this budget, the opportunity to pay for those things will be taken away.  Find a fee that is realistic and fair; the fee presented today is not fair.


An unidentified lady asked why this program proposes or offers to clean up all the residential retention ponds, but not the commercial.


Mr. Luebbering said that is just a plan that other utilities around the Country have successfully used.  When money is collected, through other programs that I have worked for, they will maintain residential ponds.  Commercial businesses will be required to continue maintaining their ponds, but then in the second or at least the third year, we will have the credit system in place that will give a credit back to those non-residential institutions when they show proof they maintained that facility.  He said that credit could be enough money that it would pay 100% of the cost of their maintenance.


Mr. Leon Forrer, of 85 Oak Grove Circle, McDonough, Georgia, asked what would happen if this stormwater program was not put in place, and who will enforce this by issuing citations or fines?


Mr. Luebbering stated if we choose not to implement this, we open up ourselves to be fined by the State and Federal Government that can be $25,000 per day per occurrence.   He stated it also opens up lawsuits from citizens.  Mr. Luebbering said the Building Inspections Dept., which handles all construction and inspections, will monitor this and the Code Enforcement Dept. will write citations.  From the moment a conceptual plan comes in, the Development Plan Review Dept. will look at the plans and make sure it meets all of the mandatory and environmental requirements.  Several departments will be involved and will work hand in hand. 


Mr. James Lofton, from the audience, said he was going to be assessed a large fee on his acreage and has more than one piece of property.  These properties have been rained on since the beginning of time, but said he did not think they were contributing to the problem.  Regarding the enforced codes, are they going to be the existing codes or new codes to be created?


Commissioner Holman said the Board has adopted the Blue Book and have codes on the book. 


Mr. Leubbering said we also have a Unified Land Development Code coming on line late this summer, and we have the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual with 900 pages of water quality measures.  He said next spring, all of the counties in the Metro North Georgia area are being required to adopt the 5-Model Ordinances.  He stated we plan to send people out in the field and look for violations and illegal connections.  Mr. Leubbering said we have ordinances that will come on line that will cover things beyond development (post development ordinances) and illicit discharge ordinances that will run the whole gambit.  


Mr. Hamilton Foster, a property owner in Henry County, stated Commissioner Holder had hit his first question of “what service?”  He said the property owners would not derive much service from this.  He stated a topic not discussed so far is the wetlands.  He said we have discussed trying to get water into places, and now we are discussing getting rid of water.  He asked about vacant land and undeveloped lots.  Mr. Foster said he has a 9-acre parcel, of which 5 acres are in wetlands.  He asked, “is that going to be stuck with a fee?”  Also, he said regarding fee versus tax theory, “come April 15th when we pay our Federal and State income taxes, we can deduct ad-valorem taxes as a deduction.  It is my knowledge we cannot deduct a fee, so you are throwing us a situation to each individual.  I strongly object you including churches in this.”


Commissioner Harper said he thought everyone was in agreement about the commercial; they have more impervious surface and would have to pay a higher fee.  Therefore, the commercial taxpayer will have to pay proportionately more of this $1.2 million than the residential taxpayer.  Based on that, it is fair and will work.  He said we have been provided with a copy of the $33 million worth of requests from all the County departments.   Some of them will be done, and we will still have $5.8 million to allocate. 


Commissioner Holman asked the County Attorney if there was a difference between a fee and a tax.


Mr. Jaugstetter answered there is a difference; a fee is used to pay for a service and a tax is used to raise general revenue. 


Commissioner Adams said he saw major points on both sides of taking the $1.2 million out of the $7.3 million versus a fee weighed more towards commercial with impervious surfaces.  Since we have already sent a letter out to single-family residents stating we are charging $35 to $50 per year, what if we charge $35 per single-family residence (does not involve how much acreage a resident has), and then make up the difference between whatever that brings in (at $35 a house) with it weighing more toward the commercial and industrial where the impervious problem is coming from.  He said he understands by charging commercial people more money, they will go up on rent and pass it along.  He said he thought this would be a reasonable compromise. 


Commissioner Adams ‘called the question.’  Commissioner Harper seconded; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Harper, Adams, Holder and Holman voting in favor; Commissioner Freedman did not vote.


Chairman Maddox asked for a vote on the motion to take the $1.2 million out of the $7 million; the motion carried 3-2-0 with Commissioners Harper, Holder and Holman voting in favor, and Commissioners Freedman and Adams voting against.  Chairman Maddox said based on the vote, the $1.2 million will be taken out of the $7 million that is over the budget. 


Mr. Ahmed said starting in 2005, the estimate will go up to $3.4 million for the next calendar year. 


Ms. Angus said to date, with the $1.2 million for this calendar year, we will pay back the debt loaned from the General Fund, and then what the Board will need to allocate out of this $7 million is the $1.2 million (which will take us through December) and then $1.7 million (to take us through June, 2005).  As of June, 2005, when the Board adopts the budget, the costs of this government are incredible and the needs are way beyond what we are able to fund.


Chairman Maddox said he would like to move on to the millage rate public hearing and adoption.  Ms. Angus stated the problem with not addressing this fully, meaning the funding for the following from January 1st on, is that the tax bills are going out in August, so our ability to receive any money will be a year later.  She said what we need to allocate of this $7 million is actually $2.9 million.


Commissioner Harper said he did not see that, because we have four (4) employees and the expenditures should be limited and then begin to go up; we are not starting at a $3 million expenditure.  We are gradually going into this program and all of these are estimates; they could come in low or high. 


Chairman Maddox asked, “up to this point from the time we started with Stormwater, who has been paying the bills?”


Ms. Angus replied the General Fund opened a $1 million line of credit to the Stormwater Fund that is a completely separate fund.  And anticipating when the revenue stream was identified, it would be paid off.  She said that is what we will do with this allocation; pay off the General Fund. 


Commissioner Holder asked how much is the consulting fee from ARCADIS at this point. 


Mr. Dean answered, “for the Stormwater Utility, it is $196,000.”


Ms. Angus stated, “let us accept this and we will look at the budget again and come back to the Board with the balance.”


Discussion of Meeting Dates for the Millage Rate Public Hearings and Adoption:


July 12, 2004               6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.              Public Hearing


July 19, 2004               9:00 a.m.                                  Public Hearng


July 19, 2004               4:00 p.m.                                  Public Hearing and Adoption

                                                                                        Of Millage Rate


Commissioner Holman made a motion to approve the dates for the meetings; Commissioner Holder seconded; the motion carried 5-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Holder, Adams, Freedman and Harper voting in favor.


Commissioner Holman made a motion to adjourn; Commissioner Harper seconded; the motion carried 5-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Harper, Holder, Adams, and Freedman voting in favor. 


                                                            Leland Maddox, Chairman



Peggy L. Malcolm, Deputy County Clerk