Tag Archives: tax

One Mile Branch Cleanup 2017-11-11

Good turnout for the One Mile Branch Cleanup at VSU, including the new Valdosta Utilities Director, Darryl Muse, and his wife. Thanks Scotti Jay for organizing this outing, including bringing a cart for the materials and going back with a pickup truck to collect the bags of trash.

There were waterfalls just like Scotti said, Tom Potter fished a lawn chair out of the creek, we celebrated Armistice Day, we took some pictures with the Suwannee Riverkeeper banner, and we heard a word from Valdosta’s Utilities Director, all in addition to picking up a lot of trash for two hours on a cold windy November day.

Say WWALS, Banner

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Bad bill HB 316 SB 116 would take away stormwater permit revenue

If you want the Valdosta wastewater situation to be worse, let HB 316 SB 116 pass, taking away revenue for Valdosta or anybody upstream or down to control stormwater.

It turns out HB 316 was apparently from 2009.

The stormwater bill before the Georgia legislature this year (2017) is SB 116.

Here are the current GAWP talking points about SB 116, which you may notice also mention HB 316, which leads me to believe SB 116 is just HB 316 back again under another name.

Please Oppose Senate Bill 116
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Senate Bill 116 would exempt “water-neutral sites”, defined as those properties designed to control runoff form a 25 year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), from paying stormwater user fees charged by local governments or authorities that have established stormwater utilities. Water-neutral sites, as defined in this bill, still discharge stormwater to the local drainage system, which the local government or authority is legally responsible for operating and maintaining.

Implications of HB 316: We ask you to consider the following far-reaching implications of the bill.

  1. Local Control. The State of Georgia should not interfere in how a local government operates a utility or charges its customers. This would be equivalent to the State saying how a local utility could charge (or not charge) for water or sewer services. If the General Assembly exempts “water-neutral properties” from paying fees for stormwater services, could they next exempt a defined class of customers from paying local water and sewer fees in the future?
  2. Economic Impact on Local Governments. This bill could have a devastating impact on local governments who are required to operate and maintain stormwater drainage systems for the public good and to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities. “Water Neutral” properties are not actually water neutral because they still discharge stormwater runoff to the local drainage system thereby causing an impact. A local government still must bear the cost of maintaining the stormwater drainage system even if every property builds a detention pond to the 25 year, 24 hour storm event standard. The City of Griffin reports that the potential loss of revenue to their stormwater utility, should this bill pass, would be approximately 40% of their annual user fee revenue, thus crippling their stormwater utility and its ability to provide essential services.
  3. Public Safety. Stormwater utility revenues allow local governments to reduce flooding and replace failing infrastructure, including collapsing culverts under public roads. There is an unacceptable risk to public safety if local governments no longer have the ability to collect revenues to perform important and essential storm water management services.
  4. Existing Credits. Eligible properties with detention ponds are already offered user fee credits ranging from 30 — 50% from most stormwater utilities. This credit is offered in recognition of the reduced impact these properties have on the drainage system. However, the credit is not 100% because controlling the 25 year, 24-hour storm does not eliminate a property’s impact on the local drainage system; the customer still receives stormwater services.
  5. Customer Equity. Local governments are alone in their responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems and operate stormwater management programs to protect life and property from flooding, and to protect local waterways from stormwater impacts so that the State’s waters remain fishable and swimmable for Georgians to enjoy. There is virtually no funding available from the State or Federal governments to assist local governments in carrying out this important charge. Thus, local governments have been forced to develop local financing mechanisms to provide sufficient revenue sources to carry out this responsibility. Allowing a contributor to the problem to be exempted from participating in paying a fair user fee for this service would be grossly unfair to the remainder of the paying customers and to the local government as well.

Here are all the Georgia state senators in WWALS watersheds.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

In addition to ACCG and GAWP, this bill is also opposed by the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), including WWALS. Below are talking points from the ACCG website. Please contact your Georgia state legislators.

Please Oppose House Bill 316
Association County Commissioners of Georgia
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

House Bill 316 would exempt state government entities from paying local government stormwater utility charges. While specifically using the word “charges”, the proposed exemption appears to presume that the stormwater utility fee is a tax and not a fee for services. In presenting and promoting the bill, proponents may refer to these fees as a “rain tax”. However, in 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court specifically ruled in McLeod v. Columbia County that stormwater utility charges are, in fact, a fee for services, and not a tax. The State is exempt from taxes, but there is no legal or logical basis for the State to exempt itself from paying valid fees for actual services rendered.

Implications of HB 316: Continue reading

Ribbon Cutting, new WWTP and Force Main 2016-07-12

Finally ready for prime time and a ribbon cutting: the new, uphill, out-of-the-floodplain, long-awaited Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and Force Main, New WWTP site near Withlacoochee River which have not overflowed or otherwise caused sewage spills in the recent rains, so maybe Valdosta’s chronic problem smelt downstream all the way to the Gulf is perhaps finally fixed. Congratulations, Valdosta!

When: 8AM Tuesday July 12th 2016

Where: At the new WWTP on Wetherington Lane, north off US 84, west of I-75 exit 16

Invitations: Paper invitations were mailed last week, including to counties and health departments downstream in Florida, according to Sementha Mathews. If you didn’t get one, contact her, and she says the event is in any case open to the public.

Update 2016-05-30: Sementha Mathews says the paper invitations were mailed Tuesday (day before yesterday), so they should arrive by the end of the week. Arrived.

Contact: Sementha Mathews Continue reading

Sabal Trail Contractor Fair, Moultrie, GA 2016-04-15

Not just for compressor station counties, also apparently also for where Sabal Trail has promised side taps, including Moultrie, Georgia, as seen today in the Tifton Gazette and the Valdosta Daily Times.

Southern Regional Technical College, Seminar Center, 361 Industrial Drive, Moultrie, GA 31788 When: 11AM – 2PM Friday, April 15th 2016

Where: Southern Regional Technical College, Seminar Center, 361 Industrial Drive, Moultrie, GA 31788

This Moultrie job fair is scheduled one month after Colquitt County sent FERC exorbitant claims of benefits in property tax revenue, wildly high and out-of-context construction jobs claims, and discounted safety and environmental concerns, with no mention whatever of agriculture, nevermind Colquitt County’s letter to FERC two years before about agricultural concerns.

The Colquitt letter to FERC made no mention of lowered property values reducing tax revenue, cited no source, just “It is estimated that”. However, in the same paragraph: Continue reading

IRS confirmed 501(c)(3) status for WWALS

Treasurer Gretchen Quarterman reports she received a letter from the IRS yesterday:

Dear Applicant,

We are pleased to inform you that upon review of your application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to you are tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code.

This nonprofit educational public charity status for WWALS is effective as of our date of incorporation, June 8th, 2012. So all contributions to WWALS back to that date are officially tax-deductible.

-jsq