01/19/06 — Committee looks at consolidating county services

View Archive

Committee looks at consolidating county services

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 19, 2006 1:49 PM

Consolidation of water, sewer and other utility services in Wayne County would require cooperation from all the organizations involved, said the executive director of the Eastern Carolina Council of Governments.

Larry Moolenaar spoke Wednesday to a meeting of the county Utility Committee.

Moolenaar said careful planning would be necessary to make any combined effort work effectively and that officials with municipalities and utility districts would have to reach fundamental agreement over how best to serve the public. He added that Wayne authorities might need to consider creating partnerships with utility providers in neighboring counties as well.

"Issues don't follow county or municipal lines," Moolenaar said.

The committee was formed last year to investigate the possibility of sharing water and sewer services in parts of the county. At the group's first meeting, members discussed the issues and needs involving each municipality and sanitary district in the county. The discussion continued Wednesday, but members began to focus more on possible projects that would involve all of the governing bodies represented on the committee.

County-wide sewer service has been talked about for years. County Commissioner Jack Best said it is time for officials to seriously investigate the possibility of providing such service.

"I believe the project for Wayne County is our sewer system. The problem is everybody has their own thing. It is feasible to have a county-wide sewer system that goes beyond most of the county's expectations," Best said.

Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman said that before sewer lines from different systems could be consolidated, plans would have to be drawn to show how such a system would work. He said this could be done through partnerships within the utility committee.

That is the type of cooperation among the various organizations that would be needed to make a consolidated system work, Moolenaar said.

"The cooperation piece has started, but there needs to be more planning. Not just the city or the county, but regional planning," Moolenaar said.

The partnerships would also benefit water distribution and water treatment throughout the region, not just in Wayne County, Moolenaar added. Wayne County Commissioner Efton Sager said that since much of the water supply for the eastern part of the state comes from the same sources, it could benefit the county's resources and economy by entering into partnerships with other counties.

Moolenaar said Wayne officials should not rush into any agreements. The committee members need to investigate the pros and cons of any changes, he said.