By Stony Rushing
Union County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Jerry Simpson recently wrote to the Union County Weekly about “The facts behind rising utility rates.” I would like to examine some of those facts and respond.
In his letter, Chairman Simpson wrote:
“From 2007 to 2017, the county’s water and sewer utility operated with no increase in rates. Beginning in 2017, rates were increased 6.5% annually.”
Not true. Rates have been raised annually since 2012 not 2017.
Chairman Simpson then wrote:
“Union County rates will still be consistent with other counties and municipalities in the region.”
Not true. We will have one of the highest rates in our region. Well above Anson, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties.
Chairman Simpson wrote:
“Do a fact check, no Environmental Impact Statement has been done, no property has been sited or purchased, and no funding has been approved for the construction of a Lower Crooked Creek sewer plant! Sewer drives growth!”
Misleading. To serve 23 million gallons of new water, a sewer plant will be required to return that water to the Rocky River Sub Basin. New sewer capacity will also be required to meet the growth projections promised to the Environmental Management Commission to obtain the Yadkin Inter Basin Transfer. If we do not meet those projections, we can lose the IBT.
UCPW has estimated the budget for this plant at $122 million. The recently passed increases will cover the cost of the sewer plant.
Chairman Simpson also informed us that:
“From 1999 to 2007, Union County built 22 new school facilities primarily in the western edge of the county at a cost of $490 million.”
Very true! UCPS built 22 new school facilities for almost half the projected cost of the Yadkin Project and other associated sewer infrastructure. Yet Chairman Simpson is opposed to school bonds and has voted against them.
How many new schools will be needed to support thousands of new homes built in northwestern Union County where the Yadkin water will be pumped and Lower Crooked Creek Sewer Plant will be built?
Will Chairman Simpson support new school bonds?
The one fact that I have learned from six years dealing with the Yadkin project is that it is rooted in deception.
From those who it was intended to serve, cost of the project, the timeline of completion, available alternatives and with several other factors, nothing has been factual.
Which brings me to the untrue statement that we will own the source.
We will only own hundreds of million dollars in infrastructure that if the Environmental Management Commission “determines that information in the record relied upon in making its Findings of Fact, pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 143-215.22L(k), was erroneous, incomplete, or otherwise contained material misrepresentations, misstatements, or misinterpretations” we can lose the ability to draw water from Lake Tillery.