The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld Judge Joe Booth’s July 14 ruling rejecting a motion by the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority to dismiss Jackson County’s suit over the capacity of the Bear Creek Reservoir.
That, says board of commissioners chairman Hunter Bicknell, bodes well for the county as its lawsuit progresses.
“The detail they went into in upholding Judge Booth’s ruling gives the county a pretty good position going forward,” said Bicknell Monday.
Meanwhile, a Jackson County proposal to settle the suit could be completed in the next two or three weeks. Essentially, the offer will provide the data gathered by an engineering consultant making the case that the actual capacity of the lake is about 44 percent of what the authority has historically claimed the lake could provide.
Jackson County sued last year, alleging that data used since day one to determine the capacity of the reservoir — and thus the amount of water to which each owner is entitled — is deeply flawed.
The authority, of which Jackson County is a member, filed a motion to dismiss the suit on several grounds. Booth rejected the motion in a hearing in the Superior Court of Jackson County, the authority appealed, but the Court of Appeals upheld Booth’s rulings — and the county’s position — on each point.
Following that hearing, the authority issued a settlement offer proposing an eventual determination of capacity, but nothing specific, according to Bicknell.
A few months ago I read where the County had already paid over $97,000 for attorney fees for this lawsuit. What is our total investement to date? Hopefully we will get this $97,000 returned to the county. $97,000 equates to 3 full time county employees plus benefits for a full year. If we get this $97,000 back, can we cut some furlough days?