Thomasville revises sewer agreement with Trinity

Agreement ensures Trinity pays fair share
Jul. 25, 2013 @ 12:59 PM

The City of Thomasville is redefining its sewer maintenance agreement with Trinity.

City Council on July 22 unanimously approved revisions to the agreement with Trinity to ensure Thomasville is fairly compensated for all maintenance work being done on its neighbor's sewer system. The two cities have had an agreement in place for years, but the new revisions clearly will define what Trinity pays when Thomasville crews are called to town.   

"In the agreement, there is a schedule of fees which outlines a fee for all the different services the city provides," City Manager Kelly Craver said. "That schedule of fees can be updated annually and pricing reviewed and agreed upon by both parties. It had been three years since it was updated. We decided to revamp our fee schedule of services to Trinity. They have agreed to all terms of our fee schedule and have already approved this."

Without a waste water treatment plant of its own, Trinity pays Thomasville for the service annually. In 2008, Trinity invested in a upgrade project to the Hamby Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and now pays 29.3 percent of the debt service for a one million-gallon-a-day capacity, or $498,168 a year. Due to the annual debt service, Trinity residents receive a 5 percent discount on their monthly water and sewer bill, City Finance Director Tony Jarrett said. 

"On a monthly basis, based on their consumption, their flow is metered into Thomasville and they're billed based on that rate," said Jarrett. "Because they pay that $498,000 a year, they pay 95 percent of the inside-city rate. When you add that $498,000 a year, it's more."

Thomasville also maintains the sewer system within Trinity city limits, including the day-to-day operations. Thomasville provides an Operator in Responsible Charge (ORC), a state-mandated employee who prepares and signs off on collection system reports, and performs any maintenance, from turning bolts to making sewer taps.       

Craver said Trinity's usage does not compromise Thomasville's system and was accounted for when upgrades were made to the Hamby Creek facility.

"The additional capacity they need was built into the wastewater treatment plant," Craver said. "That was all planned for. The city of Trinity invested in capacity in our plant when it was upsized. They actually purchased  one million gallons of day capacity in our plant and they don't approach that number in any way, shape or form."

Thomasville officials would like to see Trinity maintain its own sewer system soon, but Craver said he understands how difficult a project like that can be undertake.

"We have certainly strongly suggested that they start to make plans to do so in the future," said Craver. "It's a very expensive business to get into. You need trucks, backhoes, men to operate equipment. It's a  pretty large upfront investment to get started. We have suggested to them that start the planning stages of being able to do it themselves."

Council's vote made sure all charges related to any maintenance call would be addressed and upgraded the scope and rate of the agreement. Councilman Joel Pierce said the city should review the agreement with Trinity annually.

"I want to urge staff that we look at this yearly as costs go up," Pierce said. "We need to make sure that when we send crews to Trinity to do maintenance that we're fairly compensated. When they're in Trinity doing work, they're not in Thomasville doing work."

Jarrett said Trinity's monthly maintenance bill varies depending on the rate of flow and the numbers of calls that come in.

"We're making sure everything was addressed fully," said Jarrett.  "There were things we were experiencing that the original contract didn't include."

Trinity lines run into Thomasville at two locations — N.C. 62 and County Line Road and County Line Road and Sunrise Avenue.

 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578 or duke@tvilletimes.com.