SC Water District may start fees to pay bills & save for furture water

By Margaret Bradburn

Of the Independent

                Residents
will pay a $6 monthly fee to the Shady Cove Water District beginning July 2008.
Board members unanimously passed the Public Service Water Fee Ordinance # 8- 1
at the regular meeting May 7. The ordinance authorizing the $6 fee was approved
as a vehicle to generate revenue. Citizens will not get to vote on the fee that
will assess about 1,500 living and commercial lots in the water district.

                The
ordinance, which was discussed at the district’s yearly budget meeting on May
6, will fund operating expenses. At this time, the district has no cash on-hand
and zero working capital. The fee will generate roughly $98,000 for the
district to begin the process of securing water for Shady Cove.

President
Jim Collier acknowledged there will be opposition to the fee but said under
state law and a subsequent ordinance, the district will have various legal
means to collect. Collier feels most people will cooperate. Eventually when
water is actually available for residents, a usage fee will be added to the $6.
Collier said it would be at least two to three years before the district is
able to supply water.

                Residents
will not get anything tangible for the $6 and a "sunset clause" may be added to
end the fee in seven years if water is still not available at that time. It is
hoped the clause will make the fee palatable to residents. A rough draft form
of the ordinance was reviewed by the water district’s attorney, who found it
satisfactory, said Collier.

                Other
ordinances to be considered in the near future are the franchise and permit
ordinances. The franchise ordinance will give the district about $1,200 yearly.
Water delivery companies such as "Got Water" or "Marie’s" will pay a $3
franchise fee which works out to $.0015 per gallon of water (for 2,000
gallons). The fee will most likely be passed on to the consumer, said Randy
Carothers, owner of Got Water who attended the budget meeting. To aid in
enforcement, the district will obtain a list of the city’s business licenses,
said Collier.

                An
additional $400 annually will be generated by permits for well-work,
installation of water lines and other water related activities. That ordinance
would not allow new wells in the water district. Collier said "We don’t want to
mess with anybody’s well; we just don’t want new ones punched in the ground."

                The
$129,600 budget was passed by the committee and based on potential revenue from
fees, a $10,000 loan by a private citizen and potential grants. Expenditures
include $20,000 owed for legal fees in the fight for the district to maintain
viability.

                An item
in the budget allows money for the district to purchase three acre feet of
water from the Army Corps of Engineers for $4,400, said Collier. The raw water
for irrigation will be sold to residents for a higher price, however, than the
purchase price for the purpose of getting more revenue. Collier said the Corps
verified the district may sell the water to anyone who wishes to buy it.

                Collier
also discussed purchasing small private water districts in Shady Cove. Allotted
in the budget was $60,000 for this purpose. Collier is hopeful that residents
will turn small water districts over to the municipal district. There would be
appraisals and negotiations for any purchases.

                The $10,000
loan from a private individual is for operations until the district has
sufficient income to cover expenses incurred. Operations include billing and
collecting of the $6 fee which will entail office equipment, paperwork, postage
and more.

                The next
water district meeting is May 21 at 1:00 p.m. at the old Masonic Hall at
Highway 62 and Cleveland. For more information call 1-541-499-5703 or 890-0695.

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