Increase in chicken houses good for Elberton utilities

By Linton Johnson

A recent increase in chicken house construction in Elbert County is expected to result in more revenue for the City of Elberton’s public utility system.

City Manager Lanier Dunn reported to the Elberton City Council on Monday that two poultry farms have been added in the last two months, two are under construction and one existing farm is adding chicken houses. Dunn said that will mean construction of natural gas lines onto the farm property from the existing main line due to increased demand.

“In a chicken house, the consumption of gas is equivalent to building eight residential houses,” Dunn said. “So if you add 12, that’s almost like adding 100 residential homes to our gas system, so it’s a very good thing for us when it’s cold.”

Council member Troy Colquitt also pointed out the potential for an increase in water use in the areas along the city’s existing and possible future water lines.

“If they keep building these chicken houses and increasing water consumption, somebody’s going to have to provide them water,” Colquitt said.

Dunn also reported that the Samuel Elbert Hotel had an occupancy rate of 42.5 percent in October, the second consecutive month that it had surpassed 40 percent. In September, the occupancy rate was 45.6 percent with a large number of hurricane evacuees from coastal areas coming through Elberton. He credited the October numbers to an increase in business travel.

“Any time we have those numbers, we’re going to have a small operating profit, which we will for October,” Dunn said.

The hotel, owned and operated by the city government, opened in March of this year following extensive renovation and restoration.

The city’s financial report for September 30 showed total net assets of $41.2 million, an increase of more than $1.3 million over the same date last year. For the month of September, the city’s general fund showed a loss of $12,870 and a loss of $170,669 so far in fiscal year 2018.

But the combined public utility funds showed a profit of $303,586 and a gain of $704,711 for the year to date. The ElbertonNET technology services fund gained $82,609 in September and $242,405 year-to-date; the solid waste fund gained $810 in September and $12,730 year-to-date.

The city also took in $48,183 in special purpose local option sales tax funding for capital projects in September, which Controller Kevin Eavenson called a consistent amount over the past several months.

In action items, the council voted unanimously to place on second reading an ordinance amending the city’s zoning map to rezone buildings across Medical Drive from Elbert Memorial Hospital from residential to office institutional professional designation.

Council members adopted a resolution for the city to join the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency for the purpose of sharing their insurance costs with other municipal governments by participating in the agency’s program for providing cancer insurance benefits for firefighters.

The council also approved the closing of several streets for Elberton’s annual Christmas Parade to be held Sunday, December 7, and Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade on Sunday, January 14.

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