County-wide water discussed

County Manager Jerry Ayscue briefed the Intergovernmental Committee on the status of the project to bring a water system to Vance County.

Ayscue informed members that the county was moving ahead and would need to come to some conclusions soon. To that end, he expressed a need to identify a mechanism to make decisions.

The county manager asked committee members for a sense of how they would like to see discussions proceed.

Some of the issues requiring discussion are who will supply the water, how much the water will cost, and how much water is available. The Kerr Lake Regional Water System is the closest and largest supplier of water in the area.

Henderson City Council member Lonnie Davis asked if there is opposition to the water proposal.

Ayscue responded that there is confusion between the water issue and the zoning issue. He stated that participation in the water system is optional, but that there must be 80% participation or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not fund the project. In reply to a question from Interim City Manager Jerry Moss, Ayscue stated that the county had already applied for funding from the USDA and that the decision would be based on the 80% participation rate and passage of a referendum to be held this year.

According to Ayscue, USDA funding is preferable because it has a 40-year term.

County Commissioner Tommy Hester said, “The longer we draw it out, the worse it gets,” meaning that the interest rate goes up as the time span of the project lengthens.

Henderson City Council member and FAIR Committee chair Lynn Harper indicated that the FAIR and Public Utility Committees would be the relevant groups in city government to work with, as well as city staff.

Ayscue indicated that the county was looking to liase with a singular group.

Harper stated that she would bring back a recommendation from the city council.