06/02/04 — Eureka residents concerned about sewer situation

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Eureka residents concerned about sewer situation

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on June 2, 2004 1:59 PM

EUREKA -- Town residents expressed their concerns Tuesday about the sewer situation with Fremont, and some suggested disbanding the town if the problem cannot be solved.

Fremont officials have said their meters are registering three times more waste than Eureka's meters are showing and the town has received bills totaling over $30,000 in four months. So far, Fremont officials have said that Eureka may, for now, pay based on what it thinks it is pumping.

John Barden, resident, said that Fremont is working with the town now, but it will not forever. Eventually it will make the town pay what it owes, and he said the board cannot pass the high bills on to town residents because they are already paying all they can right now.

He said the town is not growing and he has noticed more vacant homes. The tax base is shrinking daily and people will not move here with these types of problems, he said.

Rodney Bell, resident, asked the board why the town decided to hook on to the line with Fremont in the first place when Fremont was having problems all along with its sewer situation and other towns decided not to hook on.

"We fell right into the trap I feel like," he said.

Ray Lancaster, former Eureka commissioner, said it goes back to a 40-year contract that Eureka signed with the state about four years ago.

Bell asked if there was a public hearing when the board was deciding whether to hook on to the line.

Mayor Randy Bass, who was not on the board at that time, said he did not remember one. Commissioner Myrtie Sauls said there was a public hearing.

Bell brought up the possibility of the town de-incorporating if the sewer problem cannot be solved, but there was little discussion on that.

Commissioner Bobby Gooding said the main problem now is trying to fix the sewer situation as soon as possible.

The state has intervened and allowed Eureka to disconnect from the Fremont line and divert sewage to its lagoons, which were part of the old system. The town will continue to use the lagoons until someone finds out what is wrong with the conveyance line.

Using the lagoons would cost the town only $35,000 a year compared to possibly having bills totaling over $100,000 for the year if it used the conveyance line to Fremont.

Lancaster said that before the town hooked on to the Fremont-Goldsboro system in February, the flow meters indicated the town pumped around 23,000 gallons per day. The meters are now indicating that it is pumping around 70,000 gallons per day.

There are three meters, one on Baker Street, Stan Ray Road and one in Fremont. The Baker Street and Stan Ray Road meters are reading differently, but the Stan Ray Road meter is showing similar readings with the one in Fremont. The Baker Street meter is reading less and is saving the town from even higher bills.

He said the larger bills have not caused the rates to go up for customers. The board budgeted an extra $20,000 a year before the conveyance line was installed.

Lancaster said the town is diverting all of its wastewater to the lagoons and there is no limit set on how long it can pump to the lagoons. The hope is that Fremont will figure out the problem and get the rates back to a reasonable price so the town can go back to the conveyance line. He said the town's sewer rates are back to normal right now, but he is not sure how long they will stay that way.

During the meeting, the board unanimously decided to give the Eureka Methodist Church a break on its sewer rates because it has been using a lot of water during its landscaping project. The board said it will take an average of what it has been paying over the past five months and that is what it will be charged for the next four months.

Gooding expressed concern that if the board gives one group a break, others will want one also.

In other business, residents said they agreed that the new police protection is going well.

Lillie Mozingo, resident, said the town does not have enough money to hire a city manager and the existing problems should be solved by the town board.

And there is a new postal clerk being trained to replace Marie Hoover. It is her brother, Jim Gurganus.