Though its few hundred residents are often overlooked in talk of creating one government for Bibb Countys 156,000 people, Payne City has one feature thats getting some technical attention.
Unlike Macon and Bibb County, Payne City operates its own water and sewer service, which has slightly fewer than 200 customers, said Mayor Grace McCrimmons. That number changes often because the citys many rental properties turn over rapidly, she said.
Payne City also collects some taxes and business licenses, but water and sewer service is the main source of income, she said.
Payne City is included in the consolidation charter that voters approved July 31. The new government will take over in January 2014.
Assuming those officials wont want to take on management of water-sewer service for a tiny section of the county, the Macon Water Authority has offered to integrate Payne Citys system into its own, authority Executive Director Tony Rojas said.
Payne City already buys its water supply and its sewage treatment from the water authority through a master meter on one main connection, and resells them to its residents, he said. Water authority officials figured it would be easy to just remove that master meter and make direct customers out of Payne City residents, Rojas said.
We dont have any druthers about it, he said. Its obviously real early in the process, but its all part of planning and being proactive.
But McCrimmons said she and the city council of Payne City are still talking to Laura Mathis, deputy director of Middle Georgia Regional Commission; representatives of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government; and other officials about any possibility of preserving Payne Citys independence. If that cant be done, however, the water and sewer system will most definitely be handed over to the Macon Water Authority, she said.
Mathis said shes working on arranging another meeting including Payne City officials and state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon; Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart; and Macon Mayor Robert Reichert.
McCrimmons said she met with Rojas a month or two ago and was pleased to hear his informal assessment of the systems condition.
We were real proud of that, that they thought our system was in good shape out here, she said.
Rojas said the water authority has only done very preliminary research and would want to run a camera through Payne Citys sewers before committing, but so far things look good. Upgrades were made to Payne Citys system in the mid-1990s, so a few more fire hydrants and another connection to the main lines should be all it takes, he said.
If so, Payne City customers should actually see their water and sewer rates decrease slightly, Rojas said. Right now theyre paying a bit more than other water authority residential customers, but sheer scale should lower that since the water authority already maintains its own repair crews and billing system for 51,000 customers, he said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.