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Oconee Approves Epps Bridge Centre Expansion Despite Lack of Sewer

Oconee County commissioners voted In May of 2014 to move $2 million out of the water and sewer account in the 2009 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax at a time when the county’s Utility Department desperately needed money for maintenance and expansion of its two wastewater treatment facilities.

The commissioners took the action after deciding the Utility Department could delay spending its SPLOST funds and that the county instead could transfer the water and sewer money to pay off the debt on the Jail/Emergency Operations Center/E911 Facilities and Tower.

That early payment of the debt would save the county $79,000, the commissioners were told.

To compensate the Utility Department for the transfer, the commissioners agreed to add additional money to water and sewer projects in SPLOST 2015, bringing the total to $10.2 million.

Those monies are just beginning to be collected, but they are needed by the Utility Department as it scrambles to come up with adequate capacity at its sewage plants given commitments the county has made to developers in the past and wants to make to developers and industry in the future.

The urgent need for sewer capacity was in evidence on Tuesday night, as the Board of Commissioners approved a rezone request for expansion of Epps Bridge Centre even though the Utility Department has not yet committed the 36,500 gallons per day in sewer capacity the shopping center developer says it needs.

The county is promoting the shopping center expansion by borrowing $4.3 million to build a road that will be the shopping center main entrance, and the lack of sewer capacity for the project was not mentioned when the commissioners approved the rezone unanimously Tuesday night.

For more, visit Oconee County Observations.