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Proposed rates approved after two speak out at public hearing

The Halifax County Service Authority Board of Directors approved proposed changes in the water and sewer rates for the coming fiscal year after hearing two people speak during the public hearing Thursday evening.

South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel was the first to speak during the hearing. Daniel spoke in favor of the proposed rates explaining “rate increases were at the heart and soul of the consolidation agreement that allowed them to bring all the water and sewer systems into the regional authority.”

He pointed out if the entities remained separated, the rates would have gone up anyway.

 Operational and financial management meets every dream and expectation that was established when the authority was first created. 

 Daniel credited the authority with doing an outstanding job and staying true to the people who brought them together.

Next, Anne Long, who owns a rental property in South Boston, said she had her tenant ask her why the water rates were higher than the sewer rates, and Long posed the question to the board during the public hearing.

 Authority Executive Director Mark Estes explained the sewer rate is higher because they had to consolidate debt and update one of their wastewater facilities. They were able to get $5,000,000 in grant money to offset the $16,000,000 they had to borrow from Rural Development.  

Estes said they had to raise the sewer rates because they were required by rural development to have a minimum rate to support their ability to pay them back.

 In other business Thursday afternoon during the regular business meeting prior to the public hearing, the board voted to expand their contract with Dewberry for up to $100,000 for the Maple Avenue Waste Water Project until its completion date of May 2.  

The initial completion date for the project had been June 26, 2013. Due to a number of delays, the contract for the inspection and administration had to be extended to complete the project. The substantial completion date is now April 25 with a final completion date of May 2. 

Estes said it will cost a total of $81,300 to extend inspection and other services and $6,000 to administrate the grant and loan until final completion. 

 The board also voted to expand funds up to $65,000 for the Holly Court sewer line replacement.  

According to Estes, three residences are affected by a collapsed Orangeburg drainage pipe.  The affected area of pipe is 500 lineal feet with an average depth of 20 feet.   The excavation will take place in a roadway, and the all-weather surface will have to be restored. 

The work will require a large excavator with enough reach and bucket width to safely excavate and provide adequate shoring. The authority director said they do not have the equipment to perform the work and will have to contract the emergency repair services to perform it.

Estes presented the board with a meeting schedule for the 2014 year. Meetings will be held Jan. 24, Feb. 20, March 20, April 24, May 15, June 15, July 17, Aug. 21, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18.

 At the conclusion of regular business, the board went into closed session to discuss personnel matters, the acquisition of easements and the investment of public funds related to contract negotiations for services provided to the authority before holding the public hearing Thursday evening. 

 No action was taken.