Wednesday, October 3, 2012
A guest speaker focused on what the town of Andrews can do to help create and sustain a profitable infrastructure at the latest Andrews Town Council meeting.
Sean Flynn, Regional Director for Thomas and Hutton Engineering, who has talked about the infrastructure in the town with the mayor and town administrator over the past few years, said he was asked to provide an independent opinion on the condition of the water and sewer systems. “Andrews has certain assets that you want to maximize the value of those things to the residents of the town,” he said. According to Flynn, there are multiple issues with the water and sewer systems and they are primarily related to the age of those systems.
“Like most small municipalities the systems were put in a long time ago and as a result are aging and like most municipalities they have been under-maintained,” Flynn said. “What happens is over time they weather, age and you can get a situation where problems are created that do not become emergent until it’s too late to do anything about them or you don’t know about them until an emergency.” Flynn said Andrews has several issues within both systems and he believes the town is aware they are in need of attention. He recommended the first thing the town council needs to do is get a grasp on the water system, which represents an opportunity to generate revenue.
“And as a town you don’t have that many opportunities to generate revenue, so you should maximize those opportunities every chance you get,” Flynn said.
He recommended an audit of the water system. He added that an audit is kind of a general term, “but in a water audit you would have a professional or a firm examine your system, your billing records, the condition of the system and give you opinions on where you are losing water.”
“If you are losing money it’s because you are spending more than you are collecting,” he said, adding “there are many reasons why that can happen including having customers that are improperly billed either because their meters are old and out of service or a new rating structure or unmetered connections or because of the age of your system you probably have lines that are leaking.”
Flynn said this loss is on a recurring basis and will only get worse as the system ages so it is in your best interest to figure out where you can identify those losses and invest in your system to recapture as much of that money as possible. “The town needs to get an accurate understanding of the system, where the hydrants are, the valves are,” he said. “And there are other things you should ultimately be doing, you need to identify the things that you consider to be a workable condition, you need to prioritize them and you need to budget for them so that over time you can make those improvements.”
Flynn pointed out there are a variety of ways to pay for improving things. “You could pay for the improvements yourself and there are grants and low cost loans through a variety of state and federal programs,” he said.
But he warned the pool of money has shrunk over the last few years and there are more communities trying to get this money. The other thing to consider, he added, is most of these programs involve a local match so you almost inevitably will have to come up with money out of pocket to finance some of these things. “All the programs come with strings attached,” Flynn said.
Sudha Patel, founder of Historic Andrews, said Historic Andrews and Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a joint breakfast meeting in Andrews on Wednesday, October 17 from 8-10 a.m.
“I am personally inviting the town council administration to this crucial community roundtable meeting, our first annual meeting,” she said. “We are expecting a good turnout and the cost is $5 per person.”
Andrews Administrator Roland Windham said there will be a scheduled public hearing for a day care variance from R-10 to R-8 at 11 Hillcrest Street at the next town council meeting. He said he has a check in hand for $22,250 for installing a new roof on Town Hall. The monies were received from State Insurance Reserve fund for hail damage. Windham also met with the insurance growth fund. He said they came up with some new recommendations, “but the thing that really jumped out at me is a list of all the insured buildings and equipment and automobiles.”
“In reviewing that list we are over-insured in a lot of areas and we are under-insured in a lot of areas,” he said. “I will be working diligently to make sure that we have the right amount of coverage that we need to have.”
Thomas Alford reminded attendees the Veteran’s Day Parade will start at 1 p.m. on November 10 in Andrews.
Andrews Fire Department Captain Rob Stamper said the fire department has kicked off its annual fire prevention at the local schools and day cares and the firefighters will be out and about and they will also partake in county wide fire prevention. He said the fire department is trying to schedule a dedication ceremony for the new fire truck including Senator Yancey McGill. Stamper has also been working with town accountant, Wanda Charping, with all the receipts and monies accounted for the new fire truck.
Town council members in attendance were Mayor Rodney Giles, Patsy Greene, David Tisdale, Angela Anderson, Sid Ackerman and Thomas Alford.
By Barbara Gengler
For The Times
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