As a result, Finance Director Patrick O’Connor said the $6 million in annual savings will be given back to the residents in the form of possibly lowered utility rates.
He said he plans to recommend a 4 percent reduction in rates come January. Cauley Creek was brought online in 2001 to provide services in north Fulton as a stop-gap measure until the Johns Creek Environmental Campus opened in June 2010, county spokesperson Jessica Corbitt said.
“The county pays Cauley Creek between $7 and $8 million a year,” O’Connor said. “Twelve percent of our water and sewer budget is going to this. Treating the same flows at Johns Creek is less than $1.2 million.”
He said the Johns Creek facility’s capacity is 15 million gallons, and is currently only processing 3 million gallons. Cauley Creek only processes about 4.2 million, he said, adding the flow would not cripple the facility.
“We literally have the capacity to add almost 70,000 people to the Johns Creek basin,” O’Connor said.
He reiterated that Cauley Creek was only a temporary measure. Many north Fulton residents attended the meeting to oppose terminating the contract, most of whom were golf club members who benefit from the facility’s reuse water plan, which allows for entities to buy the water for non-portable use, such as irrigation.
The county has also received letters from the Environmental Protection Division and the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District urging commissioners to reconsider terminating the contract, which District 3 Commissioner Liz Hausmann brought up as a reason to vote against termination.
“I just don’t understand why we would be rushing into a big decision like this that has such an impact on so many stakeholders without going through a public process,” she said. Hausmann made a motion to form an ad hoc committee with the stakeholders to further discuss the issue before making a decision.
District 7 Commissioner Bill Edwards said terminating the contract is simply a sound business decision.
“Everybody benefits — north and south,” he said.
District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe said it boils down to money and right now all Fulton County utility customers are subsidizing the few customers benefiting from Cauley Creek. “It’s costing everyone you know up and down your street a buck to subsidize those 26 people,” he said.
Hausmann’s motion to form an ad hoc committee failed 4-3, with Hausmann, District 6 Commission Joan Garner and Chairman John Eaves voting for and the rest against.
The motion to terminate the contract passed with only Hausmann and Eaves opposed.