Water system takeover

Published 6:21 pm Sunday, September 14, 2014

WINDSOR – Lewiston-Woodville mayor Dayle Vaughan appeared before the Bertie County Board of Commissioners here Monday morning and discussed the issues the town wishes to clear up regarding the county assuming ownership and operation of the town’s water system which would be a part of the county’s Water District 4.

The L-W Town Council met earlier and voted unanimously to offer the town’s water system to the county.

“I come this morning to tell you that the town commissioners have decided to offer you the water system,” Vaughan said. “What I would like to ask you is that you allow us a couple of months to notify our customers of this.”

Vaughn cited numerous elderly customers on the town’s water system, and wanted to make certain all the town’s citizens were clear on the possible change.  She cited the current (Sept.) bills had already been sent to customers and wanted two more months for notices to be sent, as well as for customers to discuss the change with town personnel.

“Sometimes it’s hard for them to understand things, like that they were going to be getting a water bill from one place and a sewer bill from somewhere else,” Vaughan added. “I think it would take a while of adjustment for this to take place.”

The town will no longer be billing Lewiston-Woodville customers for water once the system is annexed by the county, but they will be receiving their sewer bill from the town.

“You don’t want our sewage do you,” Vaughan jokingly asked the County Commissioners.

Commissioner John Trent asked that Vaughan and the town board inform the Commissioners when they want to cease the town system and become part of county water.

“I think we just need a couple of months so that we can make them understand what is taking place,” she informed the board.

Commission Chairman J. Wallace Perry said in other instances where the county has assumed the water system, the county has also done the sewer collections.  Among other advantages mentioned was a savings in postage with only one bill.

“We do that for Colerain,” Perry stated.

Vaughan has been meeting with County Manager Scott Sauer on the transition.

Commissioner Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson cited the recent takeover of the South Windsor Water by the county and how that conversion had gone smoothly.

“We had the same concerns about how do you notify people in a way that they can understand it,” Wesson said. “I think the county did a great job because not only did we send out letters but we also had meetings with the citizens, we explained it to them, we put it in the paper – the whole works; and we haven’t had a single hiccup with this, so I understand your concerns and I think we can make it work.”

Sauer suggested sharing a copy of the Colerain water contract with the town of Lewiston-Woodville.

There was a contentious moment in the discussion when Commissioner Rick Harrell asked if the Lewiston-Woodville issue was similar or different from the Scotch Hall water situation in District 2 of not doing dual billing.

“Is it because they (Lewiston-Woodville) are a municipality, or what,” Harrell inquired.

“I would say this is a municipality and that’s a private system over there,” responded Trent. “That system over there (Scotch Hall) has only been tested by ten houses.”

“I’m not so sure I understand the substance,” said Harrell incredulously, directing his comment toward Trent. “Maybe you need to explain it to me, Commissioner.”

“It’s a private community,” explained Trent.

Wesson then interjected into the discussion that different tactics had been taken in separate instances.

“We’re doing different things in different places,” Wesson pointed out. “In South Windsor we haven’t assumed any billing at all, that stays under the town of Windsor, but we do have an agreement that if a person has not paid their sewer bill we can cut off their water, so it’s a lot of balls in the air.”

The remark seemed to bring some brevity to the debate.

Vaughan pledged to work with Sauer on the changeover, ending the discussion on the subject for the time being.