Bryan County could possibly have a new Water and Sewer Authority, now that the Georgia House has unanimously voted in favor of House Bill 1329. The bill is currently being introduced to the Senate.
"If it goes through, it would simply allow us a Water and Sewer Authority that would be outside the government," County Administrator Phil Jones said. "They would be responsible for delivering those services to the unincorporated areas of Bryan County."
In November, County Attorney Charles Brown discussed the local legislative draft for a Water and Sewer Authority with the commissioners. At that time, the board decided the authority would have six members and unanimously voted to proceed with the legislative draft.
If Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson signs off on the bill, it will next need to be approved by Gov. Sonny Perdue before becoming law. Under the bill, the county and cities still would have the right to own and maintain water or sewer systems of their own.
"In my opinion, this is a better way to do it," Jones said. "It offers a venue to provide sewer and water to all the unincorporated areas of Bryan County."Jones said the authority could open the door to the possibility of private water and sewer systems being bought out, meaning everyone in Bryan County could one day be under a universal water and sewer system.
But Mayor Richard Davis voiced concerns over the bill, saying it is against the law of service delivery strategy.
"It’s in violation of the Georgia constitution, allowing a county to come into a city and create water and sewer infrastructure without getting approval by the city," Davis said. "We were not even shown the courtesy of anyone talking to us about before it was brought to the House."
Davis said the city is not against the creation of a Water and Sewer Authority, but as the biggest city in the county, he said they should have been approached about the bill before it went before the legislature.
Jones said the legal advertisements ran in the newspaper in December and the county met all the legal requirements for the bill prior to it reaching the House.
House Bill 1329 was sponsored by Reps. Bob Lane and Ron Stephens. It passed through the House last week, 140-0. As of press time, Johnson could not be reached for comment.