on January 31, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

New intra-cities sewer pact needs OK from state

SENECA — An agreement that would turn ownership of the county’s sewer system operations over to the municipalities is finding favor so far among the players involved, but first it needs to get the blessings of the South Carolina Legislature.

In a workshop at Seneca City Hall on Monday, representatives from Walhalla, Westminster and West Union joined their Seneca counterparts in updating everyone on the plans.

Moderated by Seneca City Administrator Greg Dietterick, the meeting brought out the mayors of the four cities, other elected officials and some Oconee County Sewer Commission members, among others.

After all was said and done, in principle no one had any qualms about the proposed agreement, which would effectively — as Dietterick put it, get the county out of the Sewer business.

The plan, which also would leave the present Sewer Commission intact, is intended to get past the legal binds that prohibit the county from using tax dollars to expand sewer services.

However, to get the agreement into the hands of the municipalities for a formal agreement, the wording must first get the approval of the State Legislature.

As was explained at the meeting, the agreement is modeled after the so-called Sandy Springs Water District pact in 2002 that provided an arrangement for the operation, maintenance and expansion of the Anderson County Regional Joint Water System with the cities of Anderson, Clemson, Pendleton and Williamston, as well as other Special Purpose Districts, including Sandy Springs.

Key to enacting the agreement is getting the legislature to approve wording that keeps the structure and composition of the Sewer Commission unchanged. If approved, then in essence the county would relinquish all property, land and authority, and the municipalities would be in control.

Dietterick said the Municipal Association of South Carolina will help in getting the agreement proposal to state lawmakers’ attention.

“It’s going to take legislation,” Dietterick said at the meeting. “We need to get it through the House and the Senate.”

Asked how long the process would take in the Legislature, Dietterick gave a wry smile and said at least four months, if put on a fast track.

“It seems to be a good move for the cities,” he added. “It gives us the flexibility to grow. We don’t have that now.”