They likewise passed a resolution opposing Aqua’s petition for a water and wastewater infrastructure service charge (WWISC) by which Aqua would bill customers directly for infrastructure improvements, calling it “unfair, unjust, unauthorized by current law, and unsupported by any legislative intent sanctioned by the General Assembly.”

Chairperson Mozell Booker noted that the more “pushback and opposition” the State Corporation Commission (SCC) receives, the less likely it is that Aqua will receive the full amount of its requested rate increase.

Supervisors Tony O’Brien and Don Weaver wondered whether customers would see any savings from Aqua’s recent cost-lowering measures such as radio-frequency meters.

“When was the last time you ever saw anything reduced?” responded Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch.

“I think it’s very frustrating to a lot of the residents in Lake [Monticello],” said O’Brien, “because they feel like they already have an extremely high water bill.  They’re being punished again for Aqua investing… One of the reasons they need to raise the rates is because we’re not using enough water.  Well, you know, we’re not using enough water because all of us don’t flush our toilets, you know, because the rates are so high.  How is this going to make it any better?  I think the message from the county has to be a strong message that Aqua is hurting the community, and while they’re entitled to making a profit, it doesn’t help the community, it doesn’t help Aqua ultimately if home sales [go down] and residents are driven out of the community, because of high water prices.”

Supervisors then turned their attention to the state of wells in the Fork Union Sanitary District (FUSD) system.  County engineer Wayne Stephens asked the Board to lend its support to a grant application; if received, the Virginia Department of Health would give FUSD up to $50,000 for study and design.  “We intend to use [the money] for well testing, pump testing, wells, and possibly designing to bring a new well on,” Stephens said.  He hopes to use the funds to find the weakest parts of the FUSD water system and possibly make replacements.

Stephens went on to deliver good news about the Carysbrook well.  The volatile organic compounds that caused the well to be taken offline are gone, he said.  Subject to a full pump test, Stephens expects about 75 to 80 gallons per minute of sustained yield with minimal treatment on site.  “It is the most economical possibility of getting an additional water source for FUSD at this point, because you already have a well in the ground,” he said.  “And fortunately the most dangerous components that were in it have volatilized and are gone.”

A funding request from Jason Smith, director of parks and recreation, for a hazardous waste collection event in honor of Earth Day sparked a philosophical conversation about the benefits and drawbacks of the county paying the tab for individual citizens to recycle their unwanted hazardous materials, such as tires and chemicals.

Ullenbruch wanted to know why the county, and thereby the taxpayers, should pay the fees for citizens who would otherwise need to pay their own fees themselves.  Included in Smith’s request was $17,000 – a hefty sum, Ullenbruch said – to pay a company to collect the hazardous material and properly dispose of it.  “I guess I just get tired of putting out more money all the time,” Weaver commented.

“It seems like a high expense,” Stephens told the Board, “but keep in mind that the very chemicals we’re trying to get people to come and drop off so they don’t dump somewhere else, are the very contaminants that were in the Carysbrook well.  If you have someone dumping where they aren’t supposed to dump it can cause an enormous amount of damage to the system the county owns… It’s one of those things it’s hard to measure and quantify.  I can’t tell you how many tires didn’t get dumped on some dead-end road because of this event… But it’s definitely getting rid of some very dangerous products that would be sitting in someone’s house, that could poison a child, or could get dumped somewhere, and places to get rid of things like this are getting harder and harder to find.”

So supervisors voted to spend $13,500 to partially fund the event.

Next Smith asked supervisors for $15,500 to complete the first phase of the stage at Pleasant Grove.  The total cost of the first phase – putting in an uncovered 750-square-foot stage with a ramp, steps, and electricity – is $33,000 but the county has $17,500 in grants and donations.

Weaver recalled that the Board once had no idea a grant would roll in for this stage, and theorized that if supervisors waited long enough, more grants or donations could materialize.  “I contend that it’s a ‘now’ generation,” he said.  “In other words, everybody wants it now, they can’t wait until tomorrow or next week or next year.  And I contend that if we wait a little bit, that money will come up and we won’t have to use our money.”

Smith replied that the grant has already been extended once, and Booker cautioned against “sitting on” the grant rather than spending the funds, saying that such behavior causes grantors to look unfavorably on localities when they make subsequent applications.

“It’s probably a bad precedent to set that every time we’re going to do something in our community, we’re going to reach out and try to get someone [else] to pay for it,” said O’Brien.  “I’m not dismissing your argument that it’s painful to [spend the money], but I’m also saying that in the long run we’re probably not going to solve anything by deferring it.”

County Administrator Steve Nichols suggested supervisors pull the money out of proffers the county has received for this sort of project.  Ullenbruch made the motion to spend the money, though he and Weaver voted against it.  The motion passed 3-2.

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