Barrow sewer costs rise to add service

WINDER - It will cost developers more to build houses attached to sewer lines, but Barrow County is also allowing more homes to have access to the service.

County commissioners voted Tuesday to raise the sewer tap fees from $3,500 to $4,500 to help defray the costs of building a sewage treatment plant in Statham.

Public Works Director Terry Darragh originally suggested the fee be raised to $4,000, but commissioners noted that at least one neighboring county charged $5,000 tap fees.

By increasing the fee, commissioners are helping to cover the cost of the construction as well as the cost of connecting individual homes to the sewer system, which runs between $3,400 and $3,800 per home, plus an additional cost to build the line to the treatment plant itself.

More homes also will be eligible for sewer service as commissioners decided to allow 50 sewer taps each year per residential subdivision. They reasoned that the added homes would increase the flow, while still allowing space to be reserved for commercial growth.

Commission Chairman Doug Garrison said the decision would also allow sewer service to be spread more evenly throughout the county.

"It will put us on a level playing field countywide with the program," he said.

Commissioners also decided to hold a work session, which has not yet been set, to discuss the potential of charging developers impact fees.

In other business, the county will be asking the city of Winder to annex 155 acres where the new jail and courthouse facility will be built so it will be in the county seat. Commissioners set qualifying fees for Board of Education and commission races in the coming year at 3 percent of the total salary for the position - $180 for commissioners and $18 for members of the Board of Education.

County Clerk Michelle Sims and County Attorney Angela Davis were both reappointed for 2006, with Davis being paid $150 an hour for her services, and commissioners voted to spend $31,347 to buy a 15-passenger van, commercial ice maker and other equipment for Project Adam, an alcohol and drug abuse ministry.

Barrow was also selected to take place in a pilot program for Express Poll voting machines, which the county would have been required to purchase by this summer. They will spend $15,000 for six to be used in a March election. The six machines will be used in the county's three newly created voting precincts.

Commissioners will also hold public hearings to discuss abandoning parts of three roads: Edgar Road, Hazel Moon Road and Briscoe Mill Road. They are negotiating with a developed to have the abandoned section of Briscoe Mill Road given to the county as a sewer easement.