Legislative Update: HB 41

During the 2013-2014 regular session of the Georgia General Assembly, the firm government section keeps up with proposed bills that the governmental section has identified as having the potential to affect either Georgia counties or Georgia municipalities.  One bill that the section is following is HB 41 which would amend the Georgia Service Delivery Act to prohibit a water or sewer service provider from charging higher rates to customers outside of its geographic boundaries unless provided otherwise by an intergovernmental agreement between the service provider and the jurisdiction in which the “outside” customers reside.  This legislation would therefore change the direct retail relationship with outside customers that typically is done, with the rates being by way of an intergovernmental agreement between the city and county.  The amendment would also delete the dispute provisions for challenging rate differentials.

The use of differential rates is a common practice, and therefore this legislation has the potential to affect the operation of many municipal and county water and sewer systems within the state.  The governmental section believes that the current provisions of the Georgia Service Delivery Act already address the issue of rate differentials, and therefore the government section recommends that local government entities contact their legislative delegation to oppose proposed House Bill 41.  If House Bill 41 were to pass, then the new requirements could affect existing agreements, existing rate structures, and create the possibility of hardship of paying for infrastructure financed in part upon the current rate structures.  The governmental law section of the firm is available to discuss House Bill 41, and you are encouraged to contact Julius M. Hulsey, R. David Syfan, Jane A. Range and other members of the firm regarding this proposed House Bill.