City to debate water service, electric bills

Published 8:34 am Friday, January 9, 2009

FRANKLIN—Water works and unpaid electric bills will be at the top of the agenda for the Franklin City Council’s first work session and public meeting of 2009 on Monday.

The main discussion at the 5:30 p.m. work session will center around a letter first presented back in 2007 to extend municipal water and sewer service into 30 residential building units and a proposed 12.5-acre shopping center in the North High Street/ Woods Trail corridor of Southampton County just north of the city.

In the September 2007 letter, Southampton County Administrator Michael Johnson wrote to the Franklin city manager’s office petitioning support.

“While this petition only speaks specifically to the first 30 residential units and future shopping village, we are perhaps more interested in your appetite and ability to serve future phases as well,” the letter stated.

The letter indicated that future phases of development may result in nearly 400 new residential units, however that development would be contingent upon the ability of available infrastructure, like water and sewer systems to support the development.

The letter estimated that nearly 24,000 gallons per day would need to be pumped into the city’s system during the initial phase.

Currently, the city of Franklin and Southampton County have an agreement that allows 40,000 gallons of the county’s flow to be pumped into the city system. Most of that comes from the Edgehill subdivision.

In October 2007, city council voted to allow 9,000 gallons per day into the subdivision with the understanding that the flow would be “borrowed” from Edgehill’s 40,000 gallons.

Council members made no decision on the commercial request.

Since then, the city hired Prism Engineering out of Yorktown to help city Public Works forces to determine how to best work out a solution that would not put undue stress on the city’s water and sewer system.

While studying the issue, it was discovered that several corrective measures needed to be taken before allotting the 9,000 gallons into the 30 lots.

In December, Amanda Jarratt, deputy director of Community Development, wrote a letter to the city manager’s office advising that none of the corrective measures had been taken and she recommended that until either the county or the developer took steps to resolve the problems, the 9,000 gallons should not be allotted.

During the regular 7 p.m. meeting, City Attorney Taylor Williams will advise on legal matters surrounding the 55 business and churches who were informed in November that their utilities were under-billed by the city from 2006 to 2008.

Since the letters were sent, 19 recipients have contacted the city concerning the matter. Of the recipients, eight have signed a contract to pay 24 monthly installments to satisfy the back debt and two have fully paid an amount totaling $10,546.56.

On Jan. 2, letters were sent to all those owing funds indicating that their first of 24 installments were due by Jan. 20, regardless of whether or not they signed the contract.