She said she thought about nine other residents from her area were planning to attend a special called meeting of the Ringgold City Council Nov. 20 at Ringgold City Hall, but they did not show.
“Obviously this is a losing battle,” she said “I do not feel like I have gotten a straight answer. I feel like I have been lied to (by the county) the last four years.”
Earlier in the year, Ringgold took over operations of sewer systems in the Ringgold and Peavine basins after a long negotiation with Catoosa County.
Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright said the city has an established ordinance that when sewer is available within 200 feet of a residence, the property owner is charged for sewer service whether the property is hooked up to the infrastructure or not.
In the county’s intergovernmental agreement with Ringgold, the county agreed on what county residents serviced by Ringgold were supposed to be charged.
“If you are next to sewer you will pay the prevailing rate, but you will not be forced to hook on unless you have a health department violation,” Wright said.
County residents currently will pay $10.52 for the first 2,000 gallons of water use and $2.63 for each 1,000 gallons used after that. An average family using 8,000 gallons of water per month will see a sewer bill of $27.70, whether the customer is hooked on sewer or not.
Wright said sewerage costs are very expensive, but Ringgold service is reasonable compared with areas such as metropolitan Atlanta where sewer bills are expected to reach an average of $170-$180 per month in the next three years.
“These high costs are due to aged infrastructure and tighter Georgia Environmental Protection Division and Federal Environmental Protection Agency laws,” Wright said. “The city of Ringgold is trying to be good stewards of the sewer system and the revenues. If you look at the city’s sewer rates and tap fees, they are one of the lowest around. If Atlanta had set aside the funds each year that is required by the new laws to cover depreciation, they would not be having to charge such high rates.
“As far as whether someone uses the sewer or not, it is similar to folks that don’t have cars — they still pay taxes to keep up the roads,” he said, “or folks that don’t have children still paying school taxes. If sewer is available to someone, then it is up to the city to make sure that when that person wants to connect, that the line is in repair to accept the sewer. The line is depreciating in usefulness just the same.”
Hamilton said home was built in Spring Place subdivision a few years ago. She said when see inquired with the county then about sewerage for the area, she was told she could not connect to the Baggett Road sewer line and that the line was a force main.
A force main is a sewerage line in which sewage is pumped from one location to another, and not allowing connections unless that connection is also made through a pump station so the sewage will not lose speed or level of force.
She forged on with plans for her home, including a septic system.
“If I had been told in the planning stages, I might have waited longer to build,” she said. “Why do I want to hook on now when I have a septic tank that is less than four- years-old?”
At some point a gravity line was added to the plans to run alongside the force main which allows residents to connect. A gravity line is a sewerage line in which sewage flows freely based on the laws of gravity.
Catoosa County Public Works Authority Chairman Mark Fletcher reported that after completion of the project, most Baggett Road residents were not connecting to the system.
The county began charging residents a sewer bill whether they connected or not.
Hamilton said she initially complained to the Catoosa County Public Works Authority 18 months ago when she received a $68 bill, but eventually the county began charging a minimum sewerage fee of $10 per month to customers who did not connect.
Mayor Joe Barger said the residents throughout the city’s service area in the unincorporated areas of Catoosa County will be treated the same as customers within the city limits