Thursday, Apr. 6, 2023–1:01 p.m.
David Crowder, WRGA News-
Residents of Chulio Hills are once again hoping to get a long-awaited connection to the city’s sewer service.
On May 4, a citizens committee will begin the process of venting applications for projects to be included in a special purpose, local option sales tax package that will go to voters in November, and the Chulio Hills project is one application that is expected to be submitted to the committee.
On Thursday, a number of homeowners in the subdivision attended the city’s water and sewer committee meeting to once again advocate for sewer service, which they say was promised nearly 40 years ago. The news that the project was being submitted for SPLOST consideration met with mixed reviews.
Rev. Terrell Shields recalled a meeting with the city manager and the city commission that occurred back in 1984.
“Why do we have to wait on a SPLOST, when this project was promised, and we are paying taxes for it?” he asked.
According to Commissioner Jim Bojo, who serves as the water and sewer committee chair, a promise could have been made, but there are no official records of it.
“We’ve gone through records of commission meetings, water and sewer meetings, and other meetings all the way back to 1984 or maybe further,” he said. “There is nothing in the city records that said there was an agreement made. Now, I’m not sitting here saying there wasn’t.”
Chulio Hills resident Ronnie Jackson told the committee that sewer service is so close, but yet they can’t get it.
“I don’t see why somebody couldn’t write a grant for the city or something,” he said. “It’s moving down Highway 411. We need some help to get on sewer. If it goes to SPLOST, it could be another five to ten more years.”
According to Rome Water and Sewer Services Director Mike Hackett, grants are difficult to get, and even when you do, it’s usually not for 100 percent of the project cost.
Hackett added that putting in sewer is not the same as putting in water.
“Water is a pressurized system and pretty much anywhere you can lay pipe, you can have it,” he said. “Sewer is a gravity-based system. If you don’t have the topography for gravity flow for all houses, you would have to break it down into smaller gravity systems with pumps to augment it.”
As it stands, the cost to extend sewer to Chulio Hills is around $3.2 million.
“In order to serve that community by gravity, our closest point to tie into that is at Highway 411 and Mathis Road,” Hackett added.
Another issue is that water and sewer is an enterprise fund, which means it is self-supporting.
“From a business case, going out and connecting this sewer project is not how we run the enterprise funds,” said Rome City Manager Sammy Rich. “That’s part of where the challenge has been for us. We’ve had every developer in the free world ask us to run water and/or sewer to their project, but that’s not what we do as a community. So, the SPLOST is an excellent opportunity to get this done.”
Rich cited an example in the past where some county residents had issues with contaminated wells, and they went to the SPLOST committee and supported that application. The county then got funded to go out and build a water line.