Sweeping streets, maintaining drainage structures, clearing debris off roads after Hurricane Irma. These underappreciated, but incredibly important, services and more are paid for by revenue collected from the stormwater utility fee. Beginning Jan. 1, for the first time since the inception of the City of Peachtree Corners Gwinnett County will no longer be responsible for the city’s stormwater management program, which funds and implements these crucial tasks.
Peachtree Corners will take over stormwater management and collect the fee itself through a new intergovernmental agreement with Johns Creek. “We could have done this five years ago when we were created as a city. It’s just that at the time the city council was like, ‘Let’s concentrate on some other things. The county can handle that for a while.’ So it’s time we grew up a little bit. So we’re bringing it in-house,” says Brian Johnson, city manager.
It is a move the government is making to further meet the needs of the city he says. “The county did a good job per se … We just feel like we can make the decisions better locally than a Lawrenceville-headquartered entity can.”
Peachtree Corners has a number of intergovernmental agreements to provide everything from firefighters to parks. Johns Creek’s similar government structure made it an ideal partner for stormwater management. “The uniqueness here for us is that when I say in-house, it is our public works department, but our public works department is provided through an intergovernmental agreement with Johns Creek. Our public works department is provided by a firm called Optech Monette. Optech provides the staffing, vehicles, and equipment for Johns Creek’s public works,” explains Johnson.
The switch is not expected to directly impact residents or their fees. “There’s no difference. The rate doesn’t go up. The technology doesn’t change. It’s not a new fee. It’s been around for decades. We didn’t put it in place,” Johnson explains.
Citizens can also expect to see the same level of stormwater maintenance (flood prevention, water quality preservation, etc.) that they currently receive. Johnson notes that some underestimate just how far-reaching the impacts of improper stormwater maintenance can be, saying, “You’d be surprised how much activity falls under the stormwater umbrella. In fact, easily three-quarters of all failure of pavement, meaning potholes, or any other degradation of pavement that requires resurfacing is caused by improper drainage.”
A perk that residents can look forward to? More opportunities to potentially lower their fee through an enhanced credit program will be announced on Jan. 1.
For more information on stormwater management, visit https://peachtreecornersga.gov/government/public-works/stormwater.
Alex McCray is a freelance writer/reporter for Peachtree Corners Life. Contributing to the award-winning, student-run newspaper and magazine publications at Georgia Southern University sparked her passion for storytelling. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, she joined Atlanta Best Media, where she continues to work today. When she isn’t glued to a keyboard, her pastimes include pursuing her only bucket list item of seeing all seven continents, working out, and trying new restaurants. She can be reached at: Alex@PeachtreeCornersLife.com