Berkeley Lake explores options for financing dam repair

BERKELEY LAKE -- City leaders are exploring various means of financing the necessary repairs to the Lake Berkeley dam.

The cost estimate has been reduced based on the design phase of the project, according to city engineer Rich Edinger, to $3,685,000. The original estimate was $4 million.

Approximately $337,000 in special purpose local option sales tax dollars can be used for some of the repairs, such as roadway reconstruction. Gwinnett County will likely pay between $55,000 and $65,000 for the sidewalk project included in the scope of the repairs.

FEMA will pay a portion of the cost, but the amount that the federal agency will contribute has yet to be decided, according to mayor Lois Salter.

The city can use bonds to pay for the remaining balance, or council members and the state legislature can establish a Public Facilities Authority to obtain financing, or the matter could be put to a vote in March, giving citizens the option of guaranteeing the financed amount with their tax dollars. More information will be presented at the November city council meeting regarding the Public Facilities Authority.

Edinger stated that the construction documents for the repair project are 80 percent complete. "Everything's going pretty much according to schedule," the engineer said Thursday.

Tax equity study possible

City administrator Tom Rozier, at the request of city council members, has worked with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to present a draft proposal to council for a tax equity study. The issue of tax equity was raised in recent months when some Berkeley Lake residents protested having to pay for dam repairs when they do not live on the lake.

The scope and cost of such a study could be considerable, as Salter pointed out Thursday, so the proposal will be presented to Homeowners Association presidents for their input before the Carl Vinson Institute is asked to price the project.