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Authority to advertise proposed rate changes

The Halifax County Service Authority Board of Directors approved advertising proposed water and sewer rates and deposits when it met Thursday afternoon in the conference room of the authority’s offices located on Houghton Avenue in South Boston.

According to the Authority Executive Director Willie Jones, in addition to new water and sewer rates, the authority also has proposed an increase in water deposits from $50 to $101 and an increase in sewer deposits from  $80 to $101. 

 Jones said the Virginia Municipal League in June presented a report summarizing new laws governing the collection of delinquent water and sewer bills owed by tenants. In an effort to preserve locality and authorities’ ability to collect past due accounts from the landlord, the league laid out a very detailed process requiring localities and authorities to collect deposits that are equivalent to at least a three month bill and do not exceed a five month bill.

Based on the rural development minimum rates, a three-month bill for water will cost $101 and a three-month sewer bill will cost $101.

For this reason, deposits will be increased, Jones said.

Proposed rates and deposits will be advertised in time for the Dec. 20 public hearing, the director added.

In other action Thursday afternoon, the board approved two policy committee recommendations.

The first is to deny any requests from property owners wishing to drill an auxiliary well to be used to irrigate a lawn or garden even if the house is connected to public water or sewer.

According to the policy committee, allowing new wells to be constructed by homeowners presents a financial precedent that would violate the spirit of the lender’s requirements.

 The second recommendation would be to adjust a sewer bill when water has been used to fill a swimming pool.

According to the policy recommendation, the adjustment would be granted on the condition the swimming pool is filled from customer’s water lines, the authority is notified 24 hours in advance to collect meter readings before and after pool is filled, the authority charges $25 per trip to read the meter, and if the authority is not notified, the authority staff will investigate the pool to calculate the adjustment.

In other business Thursday afternoon, Jones explained funding options for the Cowford Road pump station project.

Since a request to Rural Development to use Leigh Street surplus funds on the Cowford project has been denied, the authority now is faced with having to borrow the majority of funds for the project. 

Jones said the board’s three options were to proceed with the Rural Development loan to see if they can get $1.4 million for the Cowford pump station project, decide if there are any other projects to be added to the loan request, solicit loan proposals from other loaners, or apply for a Virginia Resource Authority loan.

Jones advised the board not to proceed with the Rural Development loan until it is decided what other projects may be needed. No action was taken on the matter.

Also Thursday afternoon, Jones updated board members on the Maple Avenue Project, NOVI Interconnection project and the Leigh Street Solids Diversion project. 

According to Jones, construction is moving along at the Maple Avenue wastewater plant, and the main aeration basins and clarifier are under construction. 

Line construction for the NOVI interconnection is nearly complete, and Jones said he anticipates operations testing will take place in November. 

The authority is in talks with health department officials about configuration being made on the Leigh Street facility, Jones said.

The board also discussed the strategic planning retreat but has yet to set a date, and Jones asked board members to come up with dates they are available.

The board also discussed changing the October board meeting from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24 and reviewed the August financial reports.

Following the meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss the investment of public funds where competition or bargaining is involved where if made public would adversely affect the financial interest of the authority.

No action was taken when board members emerged from closed session.