Tryon residents invited to speak on water tonight

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 20, 2015

Tryon Town Council is seeking the public’s opinion on what the town should do with its water/sewer system in the future.

The town has been approached by the Polk County Board of Commissioners to possibly join in a proposed contract with the Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD) and Tryon wants the public’s opinion.

Council is holding a public informational meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Tryon Fire Department. Council’s regular April meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

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Council has mentioned seeking public opinion on its water/sewer system on a couple of occasions this year. Council decided during its March meeting to advertise a public meeting in the next couple of months.

The idea of seeking public opinion on water issues first surfaced in January when Tryon Town Manager Joey Davis suggested seeking input on budget items prior to the budget instead of when council is ready to adopt the budget. Davis suggested getting input on issues such as water and sewer rate increases, the future of the town’s water system, tax increases and the town’s strategic plan.

Tryon has struggled for many years with high water rates and discussed several options over the years, including participating in joint meetings with Polk County, Columbus and Saluda regarding joining in a water authority as well as the possibility of selling the town’s water system after an offer a few years ago was made from NiAmerica to purchase Tryon’s system.

The latest in water discussions has been the Polk County Board of Commissioners asking the towns if they want to join in a proposed water contract with the Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD), where Polk County is considering sharing water resources with ICWD. The original draft contract between ICWD and Polk County is currently being reconstructed after the N.C. Local Government Commission (LGC) said the first draft would not be approved.

In January Davis said Tryon should ask its residents what they think about combining Tryon’s system with the county, selling the water system, joining with ICWD or keeping the system within the town.

Commissioners agreed that they should first get residents’ ideas before deciding what to do with the system, if anything.

Tryon, Columbus, Saluda and Polk County have tried on a few occasions since 2002 to work jointly to combine its water systems. All attempts failed over the years and joint meetings stopped a couple of years ago.

Several residents have spoken to county commissioners during negotiations on the contract with ICWD saying they would rather the county join with its towns than share resources with a South Carolina entity. County commissioners are moving forward with the ICWD contract, but have invited the towns to join in if they choose.