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MWA to City: $7.6 Million Deal Is 'Take It Or Leave It' | News

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MWA to City: $7.6 Million Deal Is 'Take It Or Leave It'
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Negotiations between the Macon Water Authority and Macon City Council turned tense Tuesday night as they discussed the specifics of a multi-million dollar deal.

The Water Authority is offering to reimburse $7.6 million dollars to the city of Macon. According to the contract, the money is to repay the city for more than $9 million dollars worth of water and sewer improvements that the city paid for in 1974.

 

That was the year the Macon Water Board separated from the city and became the Macon Water Authority.

The Water Authority says the money could go a long way toward two crucial projects: closing the existing landfill and maintaining the levee along the Ocmulgee River, which protects Macon's downtown from flooding.

But some council members aren't satisfied with the language in the proposed contract, or the MWA's approach to the deal.

Councilman Charles Jones says he felt disrespected by the MWA's unwillingness to negotiate.

"If you gave me a billion dollars, I would not let  you disrespect me," says Jones.

MWA Executive Director Tony Rojas says their approach to the meeting wasn't intended to offend, but simply to get their point across.

"We offer this in good faith," says Rojas. "We understand that you don't like that it's 'Take it or leave it' but that's just the reality."

Rojas says the Water Authority has no legal obligation to repay the city.

 According to the contract, the $7.6 million would be paid in 25 annual installments of $304,989.84. The payments would be made into a separate and restricted MWA bank account and could be used for specific projects such as maintaining the levee, closing the landfill or opening a new landfill.

Rojas says it's the MWA's obligation to oversee the money on behalf of the public.

"We're not going to give the city money that is our rate-payers' money without knowing that it's going to the purpose it's intended for," says Rojas.

But the contract states that the money can only be used "subject to the agreement of the Authority," and that doesn't sit well with some council members.

"You're going to give money back to the city, but then you're going to control it? That's really arrogant and pompous," says councilman James Timley. "If you're going to give the money back, don't control it."

The authority says they've offered the same deal to the city several times since 1991 and this time the contract isn't negotiable. 

The contract also gives MWA the power to oversee who to hire for landfill or levee projects.

All the requirements and little room for negotiation had Councilman Charles Jones in need of some MWA water.

"You just shoving it down our throat and I can't swallow it without something to drink," says Jones.

 City Council President Miriam Paris says they plan to hold another work session on the subject.

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