Wastewater is just the start

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Community leaders representing both the City of Franklin and Southampton County appear they are getting close to finalizing a plan that would see the creation of a new public service authority to oversee the wastewater utilities of the two localities. The foundation of the plan is to have Franklin tap into Southampton’s wastewater treatment facility, avoiding the construction of a new and very costly plant for the city. Previously published reports estimate the cost to Franklin for such a new facility at roughly $30 million, and Southampton’s facilities have the capacity to not only take on Franklin’s current demand but also significantly expand its capacity in the future.

This is the textbook definition of a win-win scenario for both localities.

Whether or not this plan comes to fruition, which we wholeheartedly believe it should, we would challenge city and county leaders to continue looking at ways for the city and county to partner. One such proposal was made on this very page in recent weeks, when the publisher of this newspaper suggested the sharing of services among the two localities schools systems, if not an outright merger, should be fully studied. Perhaps it is also time for Franklin to study whether it is feasible and prudent to divest itself of its electric utility. For the right price, the proceeds could put a significant dent in the city’s debt service and free up cash to invest in the types of infrastructure projects that are so badly needed for recruiting new industry to the area.

The bottom line is that community leaders who are spearheading efforts on the wastewater front are doing the right thing for this community. With momentum on their side, there’s no better time than right now to continue investigating ways to improve the prospects for our region’s future.