Refunds could be on the way

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 08:41 PM

Refunds could be coming in a select area, but the base rate for the county water project will go unchanged.

The recommendation from the water planning committee of the Vance County commissioners is expected to reach the full board for a vote at Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Sign-ups have lagged expectations, residents have complained about contractual language and the county has backpedaled into considering its pricing structure.

The committee will ask for approval to refund more than 150 contracts for the Phase 2 water tap installation. The process would include a letter notifying property owners too few residents signed up in designated areas to tap into the county’s water system.

Refunds would be issued unless property owners reached out to the county first.

Four roads in Phase 2 have a total of 106 registrations. Funding is lacking. The committee is looking at funding for the stalled contracts with the Kittrell Water Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture and state infrastructure grants.

The committee considered options on the base fee, including reverting back to $20. The debt creation was figured at $120,000.

“We now have a new truth, and the new truth is it’s $30,” said Archie Taylor, vice chairman of the commissioners.

The board has been mulling the change for months due to customer complaints.

Before water line installation started, customers signed an agreement stating a base fee would be applied to their bill of “approximately $20 dollars.”

After construction started, county water officials realized sign-ups were lower than projected. This took the average customer bill of no more than $45 to closer to $55.

“They want the service, but it’s also about cost,” board member Terry Garrison said.

Garrison suggested the committee look at incentive options that could get more people to sign up, over time, lowering customer cost.

“We need more sign-ups,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

 

Contact the writer directly at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.