HOMER - Banks County Commissioners drastically reduced commercial water and sewer connection rates in the county Tuesday night, saying they hope the new rates will make the area more attractive for business.
Prior to the discussion, the commission heard from commercial Realtor Wade Rhodes, who was representing businessman Rick Wood. Wood plans to build a tunnel car wash on Highway 441 beside Jaemor Farms at Banks Crossing.
"This gentleman is going to invest about $2 million in a vacant lot of 441," Rhodes said, noting the county's fee for a six-inch commercial sewer connection was more than $172,000.
Rhodes said there already is a sewer line near the property, so the county will not have the expense of running a line.
Wood also addressed the commission, saying usage should be a factor. He pointed out his car wash in Greenville used about 304,000 gallons of water from Nov. 21 to Dec. 12.
Both Rhodes and Wood asked the commission to review and adjust the county's commercial connection rates to make the county more business-friendly.
Rhodes said Gov. Nathan Deal spoke at the Habersham Chamber of Commerce meeting, touting Georgia as the best state in which to start a business.
Commissioners thanked Rhodes and Wood for their comments.
During the public utilities report, commissioners held a lengthy discussion of the county's commercial water and sewer connection fees.
After discussion, the commission voted to charge $10,000 for a two-inch commercial water connection (down from $12,350), $16,000 for a three-inch commercial water connection (down from $26,800), $24,000 for a four-inch commercial water connection (down from $48,150), and $32,000 for a six-inch commercial water connection (down from $106,700).
On the sewer side, commissioners voted to charge $10,000 for a three-inch commercial sewer connection (down from $43,250), $20,000 for a four-inch commercial sewer connection (down from $77,700), and $30,000 for a six-inch commercial sewer connection (down from $172,200).
Deposits remain unchanged.
After the meeting, Banks County Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper discussed the changes.
"We looked at the water and sewage rates, and working with the economic development authority we felt like that this might be an impediment for new businesses coming into Banks County," Hooper said. "We want to be work-friendly, we want businesses to come, we want to remove as many obstacles as we can. We want to be business-friendly in Banks County.
"We thought the fees were excessive," Hooper said. "We haven't had any business for the last several years so that hadn't been an issue. Now it's becoming an issue, and that's a good thing for us. We're looking down the road at the big picture."
The new connection fees are effective as of Tuesday night's meeting, Hooper said.