Rates set, roads added in county water project
After three hours of debate, the Vance County Water District board took significant steps Thursday to move forward with the county’s water project.
The board composed of the county commissioners set water rates, approved additional roads for the first phase, awarded construction bids for the second phase, approved water policies and procedures and selected a new engineering firm for the second phase.
The special meeting was called in response to a deadline set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a major funding source for this project. The USDA required the county to have the second phase funding under contract by the end of the fiscal year, which is Monday.
The base fee customers will pay regardless of water usage is set at $30 and the water rate is $7.19 per 1,000 gallons. Chairman Tommy Hester said those rates could change on a yearly basis if needed.
The average water bill in phase 1A would be around $63 if there were 1,750 customers using the water system.
Mike Myers, president of Envirolink, determined the total cost of providing water service at $1.3 million, which includes $544,000 debt service. Envirolink, a water operations company based in Bailey, will be responsible for installing, operating and maintaining the water system in Vance County.
The water rate vote passed 5-2, with commissioners Dan Brummitt and Deborah Brown voting against the motion.
“The planning process has not been the best one we have ever experienced because if we had a better planning process we would not be here at the 11th hour needing to approve this or else,” Brown said.
She said the commissioners were more focused on passing the agenda than critically evaluating the materials before them.
But commissioner Archie Taylor stressed the importance of moving forward.
“Any delays we make are just going to increase the costs of construction,” he said. “If we have to suffer revenue losses up front, I think that’s OK as long as we break even in the long run.”
The board approved seven additional roads in Phase 1A, which will cost about $530,000. David Townsend, the project director, said the eight remaining roads could come before the board for approval as early as Oct. 7, the date of the commissioner’s next regular meeting.
Commissioners Gordon Wilder and Taylor have the highest number of sign-ups in their districts, with 312 and 285 respectively. Brown has 240 sign-ups in her district, commissioner Eddie Wright has 49 and Hester has 56. Brummitt has no sign-ups because his district in Kittrell is not eligible to sign up for county water. Commissioner Terry Garrison also has no sign-ups because his district is in the city limits of Henderson.
The second phase of the project will no longer be under the direction of Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates. The board approved a new firm, LKC Engineering, to handle the next phase, but did not explain what prompted the change.
County Manager Jerry Ayscue said Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates is still be responsible for the remaining work in phase 1A.
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