Residents question city stormwater fund usage
by Erin Dentmon
January 09, 2013 12:26 AM | 2454 views | 8 8 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Canton City Council has approved bids for Etowah River Park, but the way the city is funding part of the project has some residents raising concerns.

The park, slated to be built along the Etowah River at the end of Brown Industrial Parkway, will be funded primarily through $3.14 million from Cherokee County’s park bonds.

The city will add $300,000 from stormwater funds and $118,000 from SPLOST funds to finance the park’s construction.

Ben Key, a member of Canton’s stormwater advisory board, spoke during last week’s City Council meeting against using surplus stormwater funds to pay for part of the park’s development, saying the spending isn’t necessary.

“You want $400,000 to add a playground and a footbridge. This is not something that has to be done. If you did not choose to do this, the total city cost would be zero,” he said.

Bids up for the City Council’s approval included a base bid for the park and several alternates, including a playground, a footbridge, a roofed amphitheatre, trails and other amenities.

“They seem like great additions, but you’re taking money pledged to improve stormwater. Isn’t there a recreation fund, or SPLOST?” Key asked.

Council Member John Beresford said misinformation about the use of stormwater money is “rampant.”

Beresford highlighted stormwater-related projects in the park’s cost estimate and found that these projects would cost about $318,000.

“All I’m asking for is $300,000,” he said.

The city’s stormwater money can be used to pay for stormwater infrastructure in the park, thus freeing up bond money for alternate projects in the park, Beresford said.

While addressing the council during last week’s meeting, Key said the advisory board had asked the council to reduce stormwater fees last year, which the Council voted down.

“We are simply taxing more than we are spending,” Key said, saying the Council would rather use the stormwater fund as a “slush fund.” He asked the Council to “make a statement of good faith” and find another way to fund the footbridge.

City Attorney Bobby Dyer said the city could legally use stormwater money to offset stormwater-related costs for the park as long as the arrangement was clearly spelled out in an agreement with the county.

Council Member Glen Cummins voiced disapproval for the plan to use stormwater money. He said that the Council was bypassing normal procedures, bypassing the stormwater advisory board, not getting enough public input and changing an agreement to select alternates based on the amount of money leftover from the park bond.

Cummins said he did not see initial construction of stormwater infrastructure as one of the allowed uses of the stormwater fund.

“I cannot justify this. I recommend the bridge as the only alternate at this time,” he said.

Georgia Development Partners, LLC was the low bidder for the Etowah project.

The Council voted as follows for the park and alternate options:

* Base bid of $2.355 million: yes, unanimous vote;

* Playground, $322,000: 5-1 yes, Cummins dissenting;

* Footbridge over Etowah River, $585,000: yes, unanimous vote;

* Lighting, irrigation, shelters and overlooks at the river, $55,000: 5-1 yes, Cummins dissenting;

* Trails to Boling Park, $251,000: no, unanimous vote;

* Landscaping, $68,000: 5-1 yes, Cummins dissenting;

* Amphitheater, $291,000: no, unanimous vote; and

* Seed grass in lieu of sod, savings of $95,000: no, unanimous vote.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
January 11, 2013

Are you saying that the stormwater committee needs to be disbanded? If so, is this another power play for more council control. Probably!
January 11, 2013

Like are missing the point. The stormwater was covered in the original bond funding. The cost overruns were to come from another source. Since, they can't find another source..council is tapping the stormwater funds....These fees need to be reduced and this kind of excess would not exist. Council is using stormwater like a piggy bank. Bait and switch! That is all. "Justification" for using the funds.
January 11, 2013
go peddle your bull somewhere else mr. wool. you are one of those old puppet guys who threw young key under the bus aren't you? because of you he looked just so stupid on the video and nobody's buying your convoluted "logic" anyway.
January 14, 2013
You are the one with the dishonest logic. Mr. Key looked like the only intelligent one in the room. Bereford was the one that should be ashamed. Now we have proof that he called him a nasty name at the end of the meeting. He had NO decorum.
January 09, 2013
These men are out of control. The people of Canton must rise up and show them this behavior will not be tolerated.
January 11, 2013
so to summarize, the city collects a tax for stormwater control,the council decides to use some of this money on a project for stormwater control, and the engineers, the lawyers, the county park experts all tell us that this is a legal and responsible use of the money.

so who is out of control? is it mr. cummins who wants to build a park with no playground, no lighting, and no landscaping? or is it mr. key who insists that money collected for stormwater control should not be used for stormwater control? sounds like there is a "man behind the curtain" controlling these knuckleheads! mr. wool, are you on this silly committee? the rest of the council needs to man up and get rid of these puppets......
January 15, 2013
you guys on hobgood's stormwater "committee" are making no rational sense whatsoever. you want us to build a park without a playground, without landscaping, without lights, without shelters, withour a river overlook; and yet you don't want to use $ collected for stormwater improvements to be used for stormwater improvements??? better look in the mirror - hobgood is making you guys look like dummies - he's probably laughing at you - wake up!
January 09, 2013
So they are going to spend over 2 mill yet they cannot pave/repair Wooded Mountain Trail in my subdivision? Pathetic.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides