Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said at Thursday night’s Canton City Council work session that the Cobb authority is keeping the city from being able to take action on selling its 25 percent share of the reservoir to another entity.
The battle to allow Canton to sell has continued to heat up over the last few weeks, as the city and the authority traded letters reiterating their positions on the city’s request to opt out of its share of the project.
The Cobb authority sent two letters to Hobgood on May 21, noting its willingness to allow the city to market its share of the reservoir to the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority. The letters were drafted by Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, who is the chair of the Cobb authority’s board of directors.
That letter did not indicate to Canton that the Cobb authority would give up its first right of refusal to Canton’s decision, a sticking point among Canton leaders.
Bacon’s letter also encouraged the city to approve its share of the cost of a SCADA system to be installed at the reservoir.
The system is so important, Bacon said, that CCMWA is prepared to bid out the system itself and later bill the city for its 25 percent of the project.
CCMWA General Manager Glenn Page said the letter was intended to “bring a level of comfort” to Cherokee as a potential buyer of Canton’s share.
At Thursday’s council meeting, Hobgood described the authority’s response as a “no response.”
He said the authority has the city in a bind.
“They’ve got us to where we can’t negotiate with anyone really,” he said.
Canton and Cobb officials met in April with the Authority in Woodstock and discussed Canton’s 25 percent share, and who will fund improvements such as a new office building and the SCADA system.
Earlier this year, Cobb unanimously rejected Hobgood’s request to give up its say in who Canton can sell its 25 percent stake to the reservoir.
Right now, Canton can only sell its portion if Cobb agrees, which Hobgood has said is keeping the city under water on the deal.
Hobgood’s request to look for other buyers came after a consultant hired by Cobb last month advised against the authority taking over the city’s 25 percent ownership in the reservoir.
The consultant said the value of Canton’s share would depend on whether Cobb’s authority can get approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw additional water from Lake Allatoona.
The city of Canton has 50 percent of the decision-making ability about the reservoir.
Councilman Hooky Huffman said Thursday he encourages the city to consider another face-to-face meeting with the authority.
The nearly $100 million price tag for the dam and reservoir was significantly more than the original $20 million estimate when officials approved the project in 2000.
The city took on $10.3 million in debt in 2005 for the reservoir and another $8 million two years later to help fund its portion of the project.
In 2009, the council approved bonds of as much as $8 million to finance the remaining costs.
Last year, Canton approached the authority to purchase its stake in the reservoir, which was part of an overarching plan for the city to reduce its water and sewer costs.
The city has lobbied for the Cherokee authority, which provides water to unincorporated Cherokee residents as well as residents in Holly Springs, Waleska and parts of Woodstock, to also consider purchasing its share.