Utility user agreement and fee approved

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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JACKSON – At their regular meeting here Feb. 3, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved a utility user agreement that residents will have to fill out for the Phase Six water expansion.

Public Works Director Kirk Rogers presented the agreement for approval, explaining the change in fee for this phase.

“The biggest change is the cost,” he explained, noting the fee was previously $25 or $50. “Today, USDA is going by a number of $150 they want you to collect. With our county manager’s help and [Economic Development Coordinator] Franklin Williams, we were able to get that number down to $75.”

Rogers also reported that USDA will pay for hook-up assistance.

Board Chair Charles Tyner asked how many people will benefit from this expansion project.

“This one will cover about 200 homes,” Rogers answered, also mentioning there are a total of about 900 homes in the whole county that do not yet have county water access.

He also said the preliminary work is close to completion. The commissioners approved a contract last June with Rivers & Associates to do the preliminary engineering report. When Rogers went before the Board last October, the work was about 20 percent complete, and now it’s around 90 percent.

Once that’s done, they’ll continue working with USDA to secure grants or loans to complete the rest of the expansion.

The goal is to complete Phase Six by the end of this year, Rogers added.

The Public Works Director expressed his gratitude for all the support so far. He also thanked Al Kwasikpui and the Northampton Citizens Against Coal Ash group for their recent work to conduct well water testing to check for contamination.

Tyner, who has been pushing this water expansion project since joining the Board in 2016, noted that this phase of the project covered 14 roads in the eastern part of the county around Conway, Severn, and Pendleton. He also emphasized that taxpayer money isn’t being used for this project because they plan to use as much grant funding as possible.

“Citizens, sign up. Pay your money,” he encouraged.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner motioned to approve the agreement and $75 fee, and Commissioner Kelvin Edwards quickly seconded the motion. The vote was unanimously in favor.