Water pact signed with Envirolink

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 05:36 PM

Vance County is officially under contract with Envirolink, a North Carolina firm set to operate and maintain the county’s new water system for the next five years.

The public-private partnership eliminates the need for work to be done in house, a deal that’s estimated to save residents $1 million during the next year.

“We’re looking at somewhere close to $1 million in saving with the up front cost,” said Jerry Ayscue, county manager.

The Vance County Water District Board, comprised of county commissioners, voted 4-3 for approval of the operations and maintenance contract with Envirolink during their board meeting on March 12.

“We are very excited to be one of Vance County’s partners in this endeavor,” said Michael Myers, president of Envirolink. “Being able to leverage our private sector expertise, our efficiency, reliability, we can bring to the table on a public project rationale in partnering with a private company.

“The private sector has long been known for efficiency and accountability and transparency.”

Envirolink’s contract with the county entails two different aspects, one for billing and collection, and one for water consumption and operations management.

“Maintenance management covers a broad spectrum of things, but it includes maintaining the system out in the field, doing a certain amount of testing, and helping us comply with environmental standards,” Myers said.

For several years, Vance County has looked at options for operation and maintenance of the water system, but according to Jordan McMillen, director of the county planning department, Envirolink stuck out for cost saving reasons, and their expertise in serving operational and maintenance needs.

“One think I’ve noticed about them is that they are on the cutting edge of technology,” McMillen said. “Mike is really good at some cool things that they’re doing that’s going to help our system.”

Major cost savings for Vance County occur with the ability to avoid spending on back office support systems and investment into equipment needed for maintenance of the water system.

“What we would be looking at to start is about five employees to do all of those things,” Ayscue said. “That would run us somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 a year depending on various things.

“Then we are looking at having to come up with equipment, with tractors, backhoes, whatever is needed to make repairs and that kind of thing.”

According to Ayscue, the cost of similar equipment in other counties ranges between $400,000 and $750,000.

“As long as I’ve been in the private sector, we’ve always monitored our water efficiency,” Myers said. “You see those models now creeping over into the public sector.

“Vance County gets the benefit of those things.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.