Tunis referendum approved

Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WINTON – Tunis residents have said “yes” to improving the environmental health of their Hertford County community.

By a 32-0 vote, the Tunis Sewer District Bond Referendum stands approved, meaning the Hertford County Board of Commissioners will issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $400,000 for the purpose of the design and construction of a sanitary system that will collect, treat and dispose of sewage.

The referendum was conducted Tuesday where only full-time residents of the Tunis community were eligible to make the decision. They did so at the Cofield Precinct.

According to records at the Hertford County Board of Elections, there are 67 registered voters with full-time residences in Tunis.

Only six voters cast ballots on Tuesday, all saying “yes” to the issuance of the bonds. Twenty five opted to vote by the One-Stop process, which opened last month. That method yielded 25 “yes” votes. There was one “yes” vote via the absentee by mail process.

All votes are unofficial until verified by the Hertford County Board of Elections.

If the results stand as expected, the bond money will be combined with a $1.225 million grant from the Rural Development arm of the United States Department of Agriculture and a $500,000 grant from the NC Rural Center to provide the lion’s share of constructing a $2,068,300 sewage treatment system.

“Now we go to work,” said Hertford County Manager Loria Williams during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “We can now begin to develop the true design of the system.”

Williams added that all the lenders in the funding – the federal stimulus money and the Rural Center grant – will be contacted to obtain information on how the money is drawn down to the local level and in what order. She further stated that the planning process includes a meeting with Town of Winton officials due to a previous MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the town and the county that the Tunis sewage will be pumped to and treated at Winton’s wastewater treatment plant.

“We will also immediately start the user sign-up phase by going to Tunis and knocking on doors or leaving them contact information,” Williams said.

Williams supplied a timetable of how the project will proceed from this point:

Oct. 2011 – complete engineering design;

Jan. 2012 – acquire permits;

April 2012 – advertise, bid and award the construction contract;

May 2012 – begin construction;

Jan. 2013 – complete construction; and

Feb. 2013 – sewer hookups.

The Tunis Sewer District will be treated similar to the county’s Northern and Southern Rural Water Districts. Fees will be paid for by those using the system, not by all Hertford County citizens.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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