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by Carrie C. Causey
LOUISBURG — Franklin County Public Utilities will use money it has saved over the past few years to foot a more than $175,000 bill for proposed renovations to the Youngsville utility system.
Since the county officially bought out the water service from Youngsville back in March, Public Utilities Director Bryce Mendenhall said he would like to start Phase 1 of two in-system improvements.
Mendenhall approached the board Monday night during the commissioners’ meeting for approval of renovations that would allow better inter-operability with the county system. Phase 1 includes installation of five standby generators, as well as putting sewage lift stations under SCADA control.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition was what alerted Mendenhall of a leak in the system last week almost immediately, resulting in quick location and repair of the problem without disrupting any customers or schools’ utility service.
“It plays a vital role to alert us,” Mendenhall said, justifying the $138,000 cost to the county.
Phase 2 includes the acquisition of a diesel generator for a sewer lift station in the event of a power outage.
While most of the board seemed in favor of the proposal without discussion, Commissioner Harry Foy had some concerns about the cost and other parts of the merger contract which has already been signed and approved.
Foy claimed to not have known about or approved a 10 percent rate reduction for the next three years to Youngsville customers served at the time the acquisition took place.
“That is not fair for some to get a discount and not the rest of the county,” he said.
Foy added he’s especially upset about a discount when it will take so much money to make the repairs to the infrastructure they now maintain.
County Attorney Pete Tomlinson, who served as Youngsville’s attorney during initial talks about the merger, said the discount was offered because the county didn’t have to pay for the installation of the pipes and system.
“It was part of the contract that the citizens receive something in return for giving up their system and miles and miles of pipes,” he said.
Commissioners were also confused about whether the 10 percent reduction was off the Youngsville rate or the county rate — and didn’t know which one benefited the county more. While
Mendenhall didn’t say one way or another during the meeting, Youngsville Town Clerk Emily Hurd said the discount was off the county rate per the contract because the county had higher service fees.
County commissioners approved Mendenhall to fund the improvements, expressing appreciation for his work and the rest of the staff during last week’s leak.
•Water tank on hold: At Louisburg commissioners’ request, the county board tabled discussion about refurbishing the water tank at Palziv North America in Louisburg. There is a proposal for the cost of the project to be split equally among the company Palziv, the town of Louisburg and the county.
•We will take the money: The board approved a resolution to receive $400,000 in grant funding by the N.C. Department of Commerce to be used in the scattered site housing program, offering repairs to very low-income family homes in need. The board also approved a grant administration contract to the Wooten Company in an amount not to exceed $48,000.
•Going to be a blast: The board authorized use of fireworks by Hale Artificier Fireworks of Lexington at July 4th festivities at Louisburg High School.
•Destination location: The Franklin County Tourism Development Authority received funding for the Triangle Regional Film Commission to ensure Franklin County is considered for filming productions, to help fund the Lake Royale Triathlon in October and to support the Tar River Festival in September.