City residents have to wait another month to find out whether their water bills will soon be slightly cheaper.
The South Granville Water & Sewer Authority was expected to vote last week on the terms of an agreement that would make Creedmoor a full member of the authority.
But the authority’s board decided to push the vote to next month after members raised concerns about the $15.7 million cost of purchasing Creedmoor’s system and when the public would be able to comment on the deal.
The authority and Creedmoor have gone back and forth over the terms for years seeking a resolution that all parties consider fair.
If Creedmoor joins the authority as a full member, residents there are expected to see lower water and sewer bills. For the authority, the deal would mean greater predictability about who it serves and the resources it brings to the table.
Creedmoor officials in the past have considered building their own wastewater treatment plant on the Tar River — an idea that neighbors and environmental groups were quick to shoot down — or joining with the city of Oxford for its services.
Commissioner Dave Currin, who also is a member of he county’s Board of Commissioners, said early in the meeting that while there were parts of the years-long negotiating process he didn’t like, but he thought the deal was a necessary one.
But by the end of the meeting, he wanted to know more about how the deal would affect water and sewer rates for the existing members of the authority, the county and the towns of Butner and Stem.
“Maybe we’re trying to do something that nobody wants done,” he said.
Right now, Creedmoor is considered a wholesale customer of the authority, which is why residents pay more than their counterparts in the county and nearby towns. Elected officials of the city also sit on the SGWASA board but cannot vote. The deal would give them voting rights.
The city’s Board of Commissioners approved the terms of the deal, which calls for a Nov. 1 transfer of business date, by a vote of 4-1.
Officials from the town of Stem say the $15.7 million purchase price is too high. Mayor Renee Green told the board at last week’s meeting that while she wants Creedmoor to join the authority, she doesn’t want residents to pay more than is necessary. Stem has one vote on the authority’s five-person voting board.
“We simply don’t feel this is the right choice for our community,” she said.
Under the deal, an average SGWASA residential customer who uses 4,200 gallons of water per month could expect to see their rates increase by $163 annually.
If Creedmoor left the authority entirely, it would represent a $1,755,124 annual loss for the authority overall, and an average residential customer would see an increase of $207 annually.
An average Creedmoor resident who uses 4,200 gallons a month is expected to save $24 to $36 annually under the deal, based on city data provided to SGAWASA officials.
All of the rate changes already factor in the cost of $30 million in improvements to the SGWASA system.
Amor Agdeppa, who lives in Creedmoor, came to the meeting expecting to see a resolution he has long awaited. He said it’s frustrating to not know what will happen to his utility bills and to see officials from all sides unable to bring the deal to a close.
“If it’s better for the community, then let’s get it done,” he said.