HAHIRA -- The City of Hahira was recently fined more than $6,000 by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division because of inaccurate reports dealing with the city's water and waste water systems.

"From August 2003 to July 2004 there were some months when reports were late, incomplete and inaccurate," said City Manager Janice Logue, during Hahira's December City Council meeting. "EPD did not notify us until July 2004 so now they're going back a year and giving us fines in the amount of $6,626 for a problem that we were not even aware of."

Mayor Myron Crowe said that the City contracted with a lab for about 20 years to send the reports, which included information regarding things such as water samples, to the EPD.

Now, because of the fine, Hahira is using a new lab.

"The lab was obviously not doing their job," Crowe said.

Crowe said that the City of Hahira is in the process of asking the lab to pay the fine.

John Thursby, public works director, agrees that the lab should have to pay the fine.

"I think they're responsible for it and that they should pay for it," Thursby said during Hahira's December City Council meeting. "I really do. They've let us down and caused us some undo grief."

However, Crowe said that the city of Hahira also deserves some of the blame.

"I'm not casting 100 percent of the blame on (the lab)," Crowe said. "We should have done a better job of looking at things."

Crowe said that Thursby will have to work closer with the reports because part of his job is making sure they are turned in on time.

"I feel like now he realizes he wasn't following up on it as much as he should of," Crowe said. "I think it was just an unfortunate thing that happened."

Crowe said the city is now taking action to make sure something like this does not happen again. The city is now using a new lab and the reports are being sent to the EPD 10 days before deadline instead of one or two days before deadline.

"I think we have a handle on it," Crowe said. "I wish we hadn't had it happen, but I think it's under control."

Crowe said that the $6,626 fine will not impact the city too much but he still hates for the city to have to spend any of it's funds paying fines.

The Valdosta Daily Times could not obtain the name of the lab Crowe said is responsible for the EPD fine from Crowe, Logue, Thursby, Councilman Terry Benjamin, Councilman Temple Ogundu or City Clerk Marilyn Brady.

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