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Utility Commission

Dollie Horton, Chairman
At Large – Post 4
Term Expires: 12/2015

Bob Hunnicut, Vice Chairman
West Ward – Post 2
Term Expires: 12/2015

Linda D Johnson
East Ward- Post 1
Term Expires: 11/2015

Jo Ann Dankel
At Large – Post 3
Term Expires 12/2017

Barbara Williams
Mayor of Fort Valley
Term Expires: 12/2017

Unlike most Georgia cities, the City of Fort Valley does not depend on the statewide utility companies to provide its electricity and natural gas. The Fort Valley Utility Commission provides electricity, natural gas, water, wastewater treatment, fiber optic and wireless telecommunications to residents of Fort Valley and parts of Peach, Crawford and Macon Counties. And it does it efficiently and affordably.

The water system includes five wells and three water treatment plants with five licensed operators serving Fort Valley and parts of Peach and Macon counties. Electricity and natural gas serve Fort Valley and parts of Peach and Crawford counties.

Four commissioners are elected to four-year staggered terms. Two are elected at large and two are elected by ward. The mayor is an ex officio member with the same rights and powers of the elected members.

The commissioners meet monthly to review business items that will be discussed at the utility commission public meeting. The public is invited to the utility commission's regular meetings on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at city hall, 204 West Church Street. On occasions, the group convenes for called meetings to discuss various issues.

Under the specific provisions of its charter, the utility commission has full and entire control of the construction and management of all public utilities furnished by the city and the rates charged for those services.

The utility commission has transferred millions of dollars to the city general government over the years.

A Brief History

The city charter was amended in 1890 to create the Board of Commissioners of Water and Sewers. The new board was tasked with the construction of and management of the water works and sewers.

The amendment stated in part, "They shall fix water rates to all persons using water from the water-works, and collect the same, pay the necessary expenses of the water, and any surplus remaining in their hands they shall pay into the treasury of the town and take proper receipt therefore, at such times annually as the mayor and council may request them to do so. (Ga. L. 1890, p. 644)."

The present city charter was enacted in 1907 (Ga. L. 1907, p. 651). Section 28 of the charter, as originally enacted, gave the mayor and council the authority to establish and maintain a system of water-works, sanitary sewage, telephones and electric lights for said city and granted to mayor and council full police powers over the system. They were also given authority to set prices and policies regarding payment. The 1907 charter did not mention the board of water and sewers, but the board continued to exist without interruption.

The 1907 charter was amended in 1909 to create a Board of Water and Light Commissioners with the same powers, duties and rights as the board of water and sewers under the 1890 charter provisions (Ga. L. 1909, p. 900). The incumbent commissioners of water and sewers were designated as members of the new board, with specific provisions for future elections to four-year terms on a staggered basis. The powers of the new commission were extended to include the lighting plant and the responssibility to provide lighs for the streets and for private use.

The municipal charter was amended again in 1945 to allow the mayor and council, with the approval of the water and light commissioners, to "use, expend or invest revenue derived from the operation of utilities . . . for any cause or purpose in promotion of the common welfare of said city or its citizens." Such use of funds required approval of both bodies.

This amendment also contained a provision that neither the city nor either of these bodies could sell, lease or otherwise dispose of its electrical distribution system or its water pumping, water storing or water distribution system. It also prohibited the city from granting franchises, privileges or rights to anyone else to sell or distribute electric current or to pump, store or distribute water unless 75 percent of the residents of the city agreed by voting in a special election.

The board was renamed the utility commission in 1953 and given the same powers duties and rights as the prior boards as to all public utilities including sewers, water, lights, electricity, natural gas and any other utility that the City of Fort Valley may engage in lawfully in any manner whatsoever (Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 2817).

The charter was amended in 1999 under Home Rule provisions to provide full power and authority to own and operate a telecommunications systems network. This includes power to serve consumers within and outside the corporate limits of the city.

For more information visit the Utility Commission Website or its Broadband Internet Website.