County sells sewer system in north

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Despite weeks of pressure from some residents, the Shelby County Commission sold a portion of the sewer system that serves the northern part of the county.

The commission approved the contract with Southwest Water Company, a private enterprise from California, for $8.5 million.

A number of residents from the Greystone and Eagle Point areas of Shelby County addressed the commission before the sale was approved, pleading for commissioners to not go forward with the sale as recommended by Shelby County Utilities Manager Charles Lay.

In the end, however, the commission voted 7-1 in favor of the sale with Southwest.

Commissioner Ted Crockett, whose district includes the Greystone area, voted against the sale, and Commissioner Don Armstrong who represents the Eagle Point area, abstained.

Commissioners Dan Acker, Lindsey Allison, Joel Bearden, Billy Thompson, Jon Parker and Earl Cunningham voted in favor of the sale along with Commission Chairman Larry Dillard.

The $8.5 million from the sale of this portion of the sewer system will be used, along with a reserve, to construct a $75 million water treatment plant on the Coosa River, officials said.

A portion of the contract restricts Southwest’s yearly increase on sewer rates, a benefit to the 4,400 customers affected by the sale.

The contract gives the private company the right to increase rates only 8 percent each year for 11 years.

Currently, sewer system customers pay about $32 a month.

Shelby County officials said the 8 percent cap was built in as a protection for longtime sewer customers; but residents disagreed this was a protection.

In other business, the commission approved an agreement to offer water service to 764 homes at The Village at Highland Lakes.

The Village at Highland Lakes is located along Highway 41 across from Mt. Laurel.

Each of the homes will pay an $800 fee for water service.

The Village at Highland Lakes is being developed by Eddleman Properties.

The commission also approved a 3 percent Waste Management rate increase. Waste Management’s contract with Shelby County allows for an increase of up to 3 percent.

Commission Chairman Dillard and Commissioner Thompson voted no to the increase, which will begin Oct. 1.

Commissioners Acker, Allison, Armstrong, Bearden, Cunningham, Parker and Thompson voted to approve the increase