County refuses to pay for additional costs
If the town of Weddington wants a water tank, then it needs to pay the cost for one. That was the answer from county commissioners during a joint meeting with the Weddington town council Monoday, Oct. 10, discussing alternatives to the proposed water tower.
The water tower was scheduled to be built at 247 Providence Road South, part of a 9 acre lot. Public Works officials wanted to use the 1.5 million gallon tower to improve static pressure and fire flow in the western portion of Union County during peak demand. Residents complained that it would be an eyesore and not safe for their kids to be around. Instead, they asked for the county to build a ground level water tank.
“I’m not in favor of the county paying the additional funds (for a tank),” County Commissioner Todd Johnson said. “It’s hard for me to tell other folks that we’re gonna spend your user money to build something different. If we build a ground tank here, it’ll be a ground tank for every site from here on.”
The county’s job, Johnson said, was to provide service for the need, which he felt they did by engineering the water tower and negotiating to buy land. If Weddington residents want something different, that costs more, then they should pay for the difference in price, Johnson said.
The Weddington town council saw it differently.
“The people of Weddington thought it was the county’s responsibility to pay for that,” Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson said. “We have worked with the county on every occasion. I just feel like we’re being squeezed here.”
Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry pointed out that the county never asked the town or residents where they would be comfortable with a water tower going.
“The county never approached us, they just showed up with the engineering plans,” Barry said. “We hadn’t been engaged. We’re ready to help, we just hadn’t been invited to the table.”
A ground level tank would raise the cost of the project to $6.18 million, $1.5 million more than a water tower. The reason for that is the fact the tower’s height helps direct and guide water flow. Ground level tanks would require a pump station. The town council offered to cover the operating costs of a pump station and tank, taking $20,000 a year for 10 years out of their general fund.
County commission member Tracy Kuehler argued against Johnson, saying it was a question of property rights.
“The people we’re affecting with this tower were there first,” Kuehler said. She argued that bringing in a water tower could impact the property values for residents, which in turn meant less revenue for the county in taxes.
“I couldn’t find any information that said a water tower has a negative impact on the community,” County Commission Chair Jerry Simpson said. “My desire is to provide the best service at the least cost.
Who should pay?
Other Weddington council members argued that the town shouldn’t have to pay for something that would impact only a few of their residents. Only 18 percent of the Weddington’s 73 subdivisions have fire hydrants. Additionally, 80 percent of homes use wells instead of county water. Of the town’s subdivisions, 60 of the 73 use only well water. However in the northern part of the town, water pressure during the low demand portions of the day barely meets the minimum requirements for fire departments to use hydrants. At peak demand times, there’s no guarantee the hydrants would have enough pressure to pump out the water.
“I have a problem spending that kind of money for one neighborhood,” Weddington council member Werner Thomisser said, suggesting the tower be placed closer to the Rose Hill area, near the town’s northern border. “Nobody has proven to me that Weddington has a water problem.”
County commission members said they preferred to wait and look at other options later in the year, when Public Works Director Ed Goscicki and his team finalize the water and sewer master plan currently in
“We may have preliminary information in November,” County Manager Cindy Coto said. “We hope to bring it to the board for a vote in December.”