Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Water-Sewer Merger Takes a Giant Step; Brunswick, County Reps Agree, but Full Panels Need to Vote

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Water-Sewer Merger Takes a Giant Step; Brunswick, County Reps Agree, but Full Panels Need to Vote

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK -- Roughly two hours had gone by and Glynn County Commissioner Uli Keller was still celebrating.

Spotting someone else who had attended a joint Brunswick-Glynn County meeting on water and sewer services Tuesday, Keller said, "You saw history made today."

The history is the first agreement on any level to form a joint city-county water and sewer commission and to give it full authority to run those services countywide. If approved by the full memberships of the Glynn County Commission and the Brunswick City Commission, the new panel would end an adversarial relationship that stretches back decades.

The negotiations that led up to Tuesday's meeting had been especially rancorous. Brunswick officials said an old agreement under which it treated wastewater from unincorporated areas of the county had expired and that the city could change the rates to those customers. The county countered that it could simply build its own treatment plant. The county already operates two, one on St. Simons Island and another beside Interstate 95 at the Camden County line.

Both are pouring tens of millions of dollars into the ground in upgrades.

When the groups met Tuesday, however, Mayor Brad Brown tossed out a proposal that could ultimately put all the rancor behind the two governing bodies.

"Let's talk about a unified system this morning," Brown said as the meeting convened about 10:40 a.m., "and what could work out best for both parties involved."

After kicking around some details for awhile, Brown and City Commissioner Jonathan Williams agreed with County Commissioners Tony Thaw, Carl Johnson and Keller that a new joint water and sewer authority would be in place by July 1, 2006.

The authority would be composed initially of two city commissioners and two county commissioners who would jointly appoint a fifth member. …

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