Frequently Asked Questions
Service Delivery Strategy Main Page
The following are questions that have been raised about the
preparation, submittal and verification of local service delivery strategies.
These are new questions that are not covered in the other publications on
service delivery that are included at this web site. Answers to these questions
have been developed cooperatively with the Georgia Municipal Association,
the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the University of Georgia's
Carl Vinson Institute of Government. You may submit a question regarding
service delivery to DCA and, once an answer is developed, both questions and
answers will be added to this listing.
Q. Will DCA allow service delivery forms to be emailed to the Department?
A. Yes. If emailing, please complete the appropriate SDS forms and send a .pdf to the Department for posting. If unable to send a .pdf, please mail the appropriate forms to the Department. The preferred format for submitting these forms is electronically as a .pdf, however, if you must mail, use the following address:
Georgia Department of Community Affairs
Office of Planning and Quality Growth: SDS
60 Executive Park South, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30329
Q. Are there citizen participation requirements?
A. Citizen participation
in the process of developing the service delivery strategy is not specifically
required by the law. As envisioned in the legislation, development of a
service delivery strategy is a government-to-government process. However,
local governments may find citizen input to be useful and politically desirable,
especially where major changes in service delivery arrangements are contemplated.
Q. Who will actually chair the meetings?
Do we need a facilitator?
A. Local governments
must decide for themselves who will chair the meetings. Using a facilitator
is not required under the Act, but it is an option, particularly if there
is a past history of conflict between local governments in the county. Even
if a facilitator is not needed to manage the overall process of developing
the service delivery strategy, local governments may want to employ one
to deal with a single type of service, or a particularly sensitive aspect
of the negotiations.
Other than the pool of volunteer arbiters that DCA maintains specifically for the arbitration of annexation disputes, the Department does not maintain a listing of neutral parties for facilitation/mediation/arbitration. DCA recommends that local governments use the resources provided by the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution for that purpose. It's "Find a Neutral" page contains a list of individuals qualified to assist local governments.
Q. Our water authority's service area
covers the whole county and its cities. Isn't the requirement that extraterritorial
water and sewer service be consistent with local government land use plans
irrelevant in our case?
A. It is true that
the water authority will not have to adopt the service delivery strategy
in which the local governments in the county must reach agreement on issues
of land use compatibility. However, in order to receive state funds or
permits, the water authority's projects will have to be consistent with
the adopted service delivery strategy for the county and its municipalities.
Q. How should we involve our independent
utility authority in our service delivery strategy?
A. Utility authorities
should be encouraged to work with local governments as they develop their
service delivery strategies, since they will typically have essential background
information necessary to establish rational infrastructure policies and
plan future service expansion projects.
Although authorities are not required to adopt the service
delivery strategy, the Service Delivery Act bars them from receiving any
state funds or permits for projects that are inconsistent with the strategy.
Therefore, authorities will find it in their best interests to work with
local governments, become familiar with their adopted strategy, and operate
their utilities consistent with the adopted service delivery strategy.
Q. Could a water/sewer rate survey be
done statewide -- to help us evaluate ourown rates as part of the service
A. It is difficult
to undertake a meaningful statewide rate survey since each community typically
has a variable rate structure and these structures are different for each
Q. When considering fair-share cost allocations
to different jurisdictions, should eback out state and federal funds
used either to construct or improve facilities or to provide services?
A. This is entirely
up to the negotiating parties.
Q. Are all agreements under the service
delivery strategy open for re-negotiation every time it is updated as mandated
in the Act (i.e., every ten-years)?
A. Yes, unless some
of the service agreements signed in connection with the strategy have contractual
provisions to the contrary.
Q. Should all agreements under the service delivery strategy be updated when the local comprehensive plan is updated?
A.Yes. The way the program is administered, local governments should update their SDS before the end of the annual trimester during which they formally adopt the full plan update. These trimesters end February 28, June 30, and October 31 of each year. So assuming, for instance, that County A and Cities B, C, and D, adopt the approved Community Agenda after November 1, their SDS update would need to be completed and verified by DCA no later than the following February 28 in order to avoid losing eligibility for state funds and permits.
Q. If the SDS is considered adequate by the participating local governments, is there a way that local governments can readopt the existing strategy without going through comprehensive negotiations?
A.Yes. One shortcut available is to agree that current service delivery arrangements are adequate and will be continued until a date in the future. To do this, complete the form provided, obtain all required signatures, and send to DCA for verification. Many local governments have used this approach to effectively grant themselves an extension for resolving more complex service delivery negotiations. The form for this is available at: http://www.dca.ga.gov/development/PlanningQualityGrowth/programs/documents/servicedelivery/SDUpdateCert.pdf ).
Q. If services are being extended from
one county to another, or to a city partially within another county, do
these services need to be addressed in the strategy?
A. Yes. Intergovernmental
arrangements for provision of services by one county to another through
intergovernmental agreements or the workings of regional authorities should
be described on the service delivery form. For example, if a county is
providing water to several cities within its borders and is also providing
wholesale water supply to a neighboring county with its own distribution/
treatment system, this should be mentioned on the form for water service.
However, the neighboring (customer) county need not sign the providing
county's service delivery strategy.
Q. Does an agreement between particular
governments for implementation of a portion of the service delivery strategy
require the signatures of all parties to the strategy (i.e., the other
governments that must adopt the overall service delivery strategy)?
A. Only the particular
governments affected by the service delivery arrangements spelled out in
the agreement need to sign the agreement. For instance, the county government
may have separate agreements with each municipality for delivery of a particular
service, so each agreement would be signed by only the chief elected officials
of the county and the affected municipality.
Q. What will happen if a citizen, local
government, or other interested agency complains to DCA that one or more
governments is not following the provisions of its agreed upon service
A. DCA will generally
expect that complaints of this nature be handled at the local level. Complaints
received from any party other than a local government will be referred
to the local contact person listed on the Service Delivery Forms provided
However, an official complaint of this nature from a local
government will be investigated by DCA. If the complaint is found to be
valid and the deviation from the agreed upon service delivery strategy
is significant enough that the strategy could no longer be viewed as accurately
representing the service delivery arrangements between the local governments
in the county, DCA may require that the strategy be updated and resubmitted
for verification within a reasonable time frame.
Q. What will the State consider to be
the actual Service Delivery Strategy? The forms we submit to DCA?
A. The forms required
to be submitted to DCA are intended to provide a thorough description of
the agreed upon arrangements for providing each service in the county.
The actual service delivery arrangements, and the intergovernmental agreements
used to carry out these agreed upon arrangements, are the service delivery
DCA will use the descriptions of the service delivery arrangements
provided on the forms to determine if the strategy can be verified as meeting
the requirements of the state law. The forms will be also be passed on
to other state agencies for their use in determining consistency of state
administered financial assistance, grant, loans, or permits with the locally
adopted service delivery strategies.
Q. Must we send DCA a copy of each executed
intergovernmental agreement for implementing our service delivery strategy?
A. No. You may, however,
want to send such copies if you believe that they will clarify your answers
on the forms.