04/06/08 — Fremont settles city sewer bill

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Fremont settles city sewer bill

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 6, 2008 2:21 AM

Fremont has paid off its long-standing sewer debt to the city of Goldsboro and is working with Eureka as that municipality continues to pay off its bill.

Fremont owed the city $160,000 last year, but has now erased the debt through a series of payments.

It likely will take the much smaller town of Eureka much longer to square its books of the slightly more than $100,000 it owes Fremont, but town officials hope they can continue to make regular payments and eventually clear the books.

Eureka pipes its wastewater to Fremont, which passes it along with its own to Goldsboro's sewer plant for treatment. Leaking lines led both of the smaller municipalities to run up larger than expected bills.

Both have received help through state and federal grants to repair many of the old pipelines that had developed leaks that permitted rainwater to enter the lines and increase the amount of water that had to be treated.

Fremont Town Manager Kerry McDuffie said the town was able to catch up by using a combination of higher sewer charges for customers, a large payment from Eureka and the statewide drought that reduced the amount of rainwater infiltrating the sewer lines.

"The drought really helped us a lot," he said.

The drought helped Eureka as well, but not enough. The town still owes Fremont $100,992.66 -- a bill that Eureka officials aren't sure how long it will take to pay off.

They have considered several ways to cut the cost of sewer treatment, including creating a field on which to spray wastewater rather than send it to Fremont, but no decisions have been made, said Commissioner Myrtie Sauls, who handles finances for the town of 150 residents.

Eureka currently pays Fremont about $5,000 a month for sewer service. Mrs. Sauls said Eureka residents hope they eventually can clear the debt through steady payments and conservative measures.

At one time, Goldsboro had indicated it wanted to buy back wastewater treatment from Fremont, but Fremont officials decided against the idea.

McDuffie said that as Fremont becomes more stable financially, residents might see their sewer bills go back down.

"We've already had a decrease in September," he said. "And we plan on having another rate decrease soon."

Eureka residents aren't likely to have that luxury anytime soon.