Franklin, IOW settle sewer fee dispute

Published 9:40 am Saturday, December 26, 2009

FRANKLIN—Franklin and Isle of Wight County have come to an agreement to settle a years-long dispute over sewer charges.

“This is something that has been around for five or six years, and it’s time to put it behind us. I’m glad to see this is one we can check off the list … we have bigger fish to fry,” Franklin City Councilman Benny Burgess said just before the council voted to approve the terms of the agreement.

Edwin Wrightson, Isle of Wight County’s director of general services, said in November that the county buys approximately two million gallons of water per month from Franklin and the county measures about 4.5 million gallons of sewer flow going into Franklin’s wastewater treatment plant per month. However, he said, Franklin’s meter measures about six million gallons from the county going into the treatment plant every month.

“We’ve been meeting for the last two years or so trying to get it resolved,” said Isle of Wight County Supervisor Phillip Bradshaw. He said personnel changes in both the city and the county slowed the process, as well as the International Paper Co. mill closure announcement.

Franklin City Manager June Fleming said she and Isle of Wight County Administrator Douglas Caskey “had repeated conversations” and “exchanged numerous e-mails” to form the proposal that they bought before their respective governing bodies earlier this month.

Under the agreement, which was approved by both communities’ governing bodies, Isle of Wight County will pay Franklin $270,000 to “bring current all expenses related to the treatment of sewage.”

Isle of Wight and Franklin agreed to a sewage rate of $2.036 per million gallons for the months of December, January and February. A new agreed-upon rate will be negotiated and implemented in March. In the agreement, Franklin acknowledges the need for a new monitoring system at the treatment plant, and will allow Isle of Wight access to review data regarding sewage flow.

“We’re where we need to be,” Bradshaw said. “It looks like we’ve got everything resolved.”

“There’s no magic formula,” Fleming said. “We just had to make compromises, and this is what we came up with.”