Commission candidates respond to final Bulletin question

Published 6:48pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

RENEÉ MCDERMOTT: (D)

Polk County’s water system is already connected with all the towns’ systems. Some towns and commissioners have expressed interest in a countywide water authority. We’ve discussed that with the towns at joint meetings, but haven’t reached a consensus yet.

At least one of the towns has said it is not interested. That town, and possibly other towns, shares its employees between town duties and water/sewer system duties, sharing the costs between the two.

If the revenues of the water/sewer system were taken away from that town, as they would be if there were a countywide water authority, the town might not be able to survive, certainly not in its current form.

The water systems vary greatly in age. Most of Polk County’s system is brand new. The towns’ water systems range from aging to aged. That could make it difficult to value the systems for apportioning shares of the water authority.

The systems also have very diverse levels of debt. Tryon’s water system has a great deal of debt. Columbus has debt. And Saluda? Polk County’s water system has no debt at all. Would the new water authority take on the debt of the towns? Would that be fair to Polk County taxpayers who live outside the towns? Would the towns keep their debt? That could take away much of the towns’ interest in a countywide water authority. These questions must be answered, and the answers agreed-upon, before we can have a successful countywide water authority.

Other services that could be combined are integrating the recreation systems of the towns and Polk County. Joint purchasing of supplies or equipment could bring savings. Co-operative economic development efforts, as those that brought the additional textile jobs to CYP, should be pursued. The joint meetings among the towns and County should be continued.

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