County ‘confused’ over towns’ rejection of county funds for water

Published 12:49 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Whitson&squo;s comment was in response to a recent meeting between Columbus, Tryon and Saluda managers and mayors at which the group decided to recommend the towns pay for a proposed emergency water supply project. The project includes constructing a water line between Tryon and Saluda, reversing a valve on the Tryon/Columbus water line and rehabbing Tryon&squo;s former mountain water source.

The towns had previously asked the county to help fund the projects by paying $1.43 million as matching funds for grants each local government planned to apply for from the N.C. Rural Center.

Whitson&squo;s comment also referred to Columbus&squo; project of running water and sewer lines to Mill Spring when the county is also planning to run water lines to Mill Spring.

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Whitson says the county was willing to build the Saluda/Tryon water line and was told originally that the towns would build it. After months passed, he says he was approached by&bsp; former Tryon Town Manager Jim Fatland, who asked the county to supply the match for the grant. Now the towns have changed their minds again, Whitson says.

The county wants to work with the towns, Whitson says.

&dquo;I don&squo;t understand why the citizens of Saluda and Tryon would want to pay for a water line out in the county and I don&squo;t understand why Columbus citizens would want to pay for lines to Mill Spring out in the county,&dquo; Whitson said.

Following the meeting of town managers and mayors last week, Saluda City Administrator Erny Williams said the towns are proposing to pay for the Saluda/Tryon water line themselves because control of that&bsp; line is too important to the towns.

The town councils have not yet discussed the proposal for the towns to pay for the $1.43 million match to the grants. The proposal includes the town&squo;s each financing a portion of the match. Saluda Town Council was meeting to discuss the proposal on Monday, and Tryon and Columbus councils will meet next Tuesday and Thursday respectively.