Sewer project discussed

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Members of the Kenbridge Town Council and residents who lived in the annexed area of Route 637, in the area of South Broad Street, spoke during a Feb. 20 public hearing about a proposed issuance of general obligation indebtedness bond for approximately $2 million to extend the town’s sewer to the annexed area.

Karen and John Scales, who live in the area, questioned the project and expressed concern about the length of time it has taken for the project to develop.

The sewer extension is funded by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

“I don’t know all of the details, but I know that when we decided to annex the south broad area, since that time, we’re obligated to move forward with this project,” Town Mayor Emory Hodges said. “And we have tried every way that we know how to get as much grant money as possible, which has delayed the project some.”

Hodges said the town relies on the direction of the department as to how to distribute the funds. He and Town Manager Robyn Fowler noted sometimes it can be months before they receive responses from the department representatives.

“They tell you what to charge for water and sewer and that’s what you do. And that’s where we’re at,” Hodges said. “I think the town has looked at every possible option to raise the finances for this project, hopefully (to get) as much grant (money) as possible. And we’re at the end of this project happen.”

John Scales noted the sewer had been promised shortly after the portion of the town had been annexed in 2000.

“We’ve been cruising along with it for 17 years now,” John said. “We’re about 12 years overdue having it in place and functional. Are we looking at another 17 years?”

“I feel your frustrations,” Hodges said. “When a federal agency is giving you the money, and they want to wait six months to answer your question, and you email them every day, they don’t answer you, what do you do?”

Karen Scales asked if other debt would be included in the issuance, or if the issuance would solely be for the sewer project.

“Do you think $2 million will cover it?” Karen asked about the project.

Fowler and Hodges said the project may be less than $2 million, as some residents in the area of Route 637 did not sign up to receive the sewer.

“We were told when the annexation took place that financing was not a problem,” John said.

“I don’t know that financing is a problem,” Hodges responded. “It’s not a problem.”

“If financing is not a problem, what is?” John said.

Fowler and Hodges noted a number of regulations and conditions the town needs to fulfill in order to begin the sewer extension project.

“I can’t believe how much they have added since the pump station project,” Fowler said. “We’re working on that list.”

Karen said following the hearing that the sewer extension has been an ongoing issue between the town and residents.

“We’ve had multiple meetings on this, and the town has done nothing,” Karen said.

She said residents in the annexed area pay taxes for both the town and county. She said the residents receive trash collection, but also pay for that expense.

Members of the council passed a motion following the hearing to approve the ordinance and to change the title of the annexed area from Route 637 to South Broad Street.