County awaits city input on water to the ETJ

Sep. 03, 2014 @ 04:56 PM

Vance County’s water planning committee wants to help Henderson’s city council get water to customers in the extra-territorial jurisdiction.

At a meeting Wednesday, deputy county manager Jordan McMillen said a formal agreement was established between both governing bodies in their water purchasing contact, which restricts the county from putting water lines in certain areas without the city’s assessment and approval. That includes part of U.S. 158 Bypass, Oxford Road, Ruin Creek Road and Poplar Creek Road.

McMillen said some residents in these areas had approached the county’s planning department and other Vance County commissioners wanting to use the county’s water system because of funding delays preventing city water lines from reaching their properties.

McMillen has met with residents explaining the issues, and Hester has already approached the city council.

County Manager Jerry Ayscue said the city council is planning to meet to find solutions today.

“I don’t think we are being responsible in executing our duties if we don’t try while we have this one time, this one opportunity and the money in our hands,” said commissioner Archie Taylor. “The disconnect between county policy and city policy should not be a barrier of that.”

The county has about $500,000 in project funding left in its phase 1 water project, with more to come with the completion of phase 2 in the next few months.

The county planned to use any extra funds to continue pipeline construction in areas such as Rock Mill Road, which were cut out of the planning early on.

Commissioner Terri Garrison said he wanted to make sure the county stayed on track with the work already to be done.

“I still say that we have an obligation to try to spend the money for the purpose it was intended and the locations it was intended,” he said. “Once that is exhausted, if there is anything left then so be it. But that should not be, in my opinion, the major drive.”

The commissioners asked staff to calculate the amount of money to be spent and gained if the county provided water in the ETJ and to reach out to city representatives for possible collaboration.

Also during the meeting:

• The committee was divided 2-1 on whether to keep the base fee for water at $30 or go back to the original projection of $20. Dan Brummitt and Taylor each favor $30, Garrison $20.

This was the third time the committee had reviewed the issue, which was delegated by chairwoman Deborah Brown each time. It will come back before the board at Monday’s meeting.

• The committee agreed on a policy to address water leaks that could result in increases in customer’s bills. The policy states the county will adjust one month’s bill if the account holder can provide proof of fixing the problem.

• Envirolink project manager J.P. McCann said the company had to cut off 17 customers’ connections Aug. 18, but reconnected 12 that week. The county currently has 184 outstanding customer availability accounts, in which people have access to the water, but are not using it. The balance totals more than $25,000.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.