101620_Academy Creek

The Academy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brunswick, pictured, is one of the focuses of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission's efforts to improve the overall service it provides.

Auditors checking the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission’s books gave the commission a favorable report Thursday.

Among the highlights was a lack of material weaknesses in the utility’s financial controls.

“We had a clean report,” JWSC Deputy Director LaDonnah Roberts said after the utility’s commission’s Thursday meeting.

The audit report noted a net revenue change of about $12 million, spurred by a greater decrease in expenses than revenue, income from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016, investments and payments from Glynn County.

Roberts said $6 million of that went to improving the water and sewer system, $3 million was invested to bring in more money and another $3 million was used to pay off debt.

“That puts us in a very strong financial position and allows us to reinvest more in our capital assets,” Roberts said, adding it will result in better service for the utility’s customers.

The increase also means the JWSC can keep rates low, she said, noting water and sewer rates have not changed since 2018. The utility has no plans to change rates anytime soon, she said.

Revenues dropped by 2.3 percent, largely due to factors involving the weather. The loss was more than balanced out by a 6.8 percent drop in expenditures.

By and large, the drop in expenses came from the utility’s decision to haul sludge in-house, said Executive Director Andrew Burroughs.

Sludge is a byproduct of the sewage treatment process.

By purchasing a truck to transport sludge from the JWSC’s three sewage treatment plants to a landfill, the utility went from paying a contractor $50,000 a month to paying $15,000 in house.

In other business, utility commissioners voted to move ahead with a $242,000 contract with Bio-Nomic Services to repair 73 manholes throughout the county.

At the end of the meeting, Chairman Ben Turnipseed said the utility will be studying private water and sewer systems around the county to determine which ones it should combine with the public system.

He did not indicate whether the people on the systems were interested in connecting to the public system but said the JWSC is obligated to provide service to the entire county.

Most JWSC customers are in and around Brunswick and on St. Simons Island, with a smaller system serving neighborhoods in the Southport area.

More from this section

ST. MARYS — The “for sale” sign isn’t up yet, but St. Marys officials are optimistic about attracting a buyer for a 220-acre tract they have on the market at the site of the city’s former municipal airport.