08/08/08 — Albertson water project will soon get underway

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Albertson water project will soon get underway

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 8, 2008 1:38 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A $1 million water well project for the Albertson community in northern Duplin County has required county commissioners to affirm residential water rates before the project can proceed.

Sitting as the Duplin County Water District A board, commissioners on Monday also adopted the capital budget for the project.

The Albertson Water and Sewer District has received a $500,000 supplement grant from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center for construction of a new water supply well.

The grant requires a $500,000 local match.

In another county water/sewer issue, commissioners approved the budget for the Rosemary Community Sanitary Sewer District and affirmed residential water rates as well.

That district has received a $230,000 grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to assist with sewer improvements to portions of the Rosemary community south of Rose Hill.

The district also has received $230,00 from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center for sewer construction.

Grant eligibility is based on a municipality's average residential water and sewer rates exceeding 1.5 percent of the municipality's median household income based on 5,000 gallons of water consumption.

"They (state) want to protect themselves. They (water rates) already exceed the threshold so no adjustments need to be made, just a resolution that affirms these are our rates," said Richard Moore of McDavid Associates, the county consulting engineering firm.

Residential rates for the Albertson Water and Sewer District are:

* first 2,000 gallons, $19 minimum

* next 2,000 gallons, $3.25 per 1,000 gallons

* next 2,000 gallons, $3.50 per 1,000 gallons

* all over 6,000 gallons, $3.75 per 1,000 gallons.

In addition to the resolutions, another requirement is that the Albertson project must be in construction within 12 months of the awarding of the grant. The award was made in June.

In response to questioning by Commissioner L.S. Guy Jr., Moore said that a well site would have to be purchased.

An option on property had been taken during a past project.

"I know it has probably been long expired," Moore said. "That will probably be our first venue to go back to that individual and see if they were willing to accept a new option at the same price."

Commissioner David Fussell questioned why rates are not uniform between all of the county's water districts.

Several factors are involved including the age of the system, Moore said.

Moore said it probably comes down to the time the systems were constructed.

"The rates are set so that you can pay those loans on specific projects and perform all of the operations," he said. "It is promoted as being self sufficient meaning that customers rates can support it."

He noted that Albertson is the oldest such system in the county. It was built in the 1970s, while the others were built in the early 1990s.

The older system is probably in a situations where it is further along in terms of its debt service, Moore said. It might have a "little more stable customer base" since it has been in operation longer -- meaning a more stable income.

Moore said interest rates probably are higher on newer loans as well.