WINNSBORO — Following town council’s regular scheduled meeting on May 6, Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy said the Town of Blythewood’s attempt to cancel a franchise fee agreement with Winnsboro for right-of-ways to access water infrastructure has not come to a complete close.
Although the towns’ two leaders have have not met in person, Gaddy acknowledged he had talked with Blythewood Mayor Michael Ross on the phone and was confident the lines of communication would be open.
“I’m sure there will be continued conversations and negotiations in the future,” Gaddy stated.
Blythewood voted to cancel the franchise fee agreement, which is binding until 2020, in a meeting last month after hearing rumors that Winnsboro was going to sell the infrastructure.
Gaddy conceded that there is no truth to that rumor.
Councilman Stan Klaus stated that a private corporation had approached the town, but there were no negotiations in the process.
Winnsboro does own the existing infrastructure underneath Blythewood, so any new water deal would still have to be worked out with Winnsboro or the provider would have to make a commitment to build new infrastructure.
Cancelling the franchise fee, however, would end the payments made to the Town of Blythewood for the use of the right-of-ways.
Winnsboro owns approximately 750 taps in or around Blythewood and collects 1.5 percent on each bill to transfer to Blythewood annually.
Those fees amount to nearly $13,000 per year.
A cancelled franchise fee agreement would not, however, prevent Winnsboro from still conducting business to Blythewood customers according to town attorney John Fantry.
In other business, council approved $26,000 for the purchase of equipment by the water plant.
Assistant water and waste-water supervisor Otis Williams requested the monies to fund a replacement pump and flow meter. The money will come from operational budget, but will be charged as a capital expenditure.
Williams also requested that council release the employee slot that is frozen under the water treatment plant budget and asked that that slot become open to hire a trainee.
Town Manager Don Wood advised council of the difficulties in hiring qualified personnel.
“It is becoming more difficult to find certified water plant operators,” Wood said. “In fact we’ve had that opening available and have advertised for the past couple months, but we haven’t had anyone who is qualified apply. We’re trying to take some efforts on our own to certify people and this would be that first step.”
Councilman Jack Wilkes advised council look into prospective employees who have receive their qualifications at Sumter Tech, which trains water plant operators.
Council did unanimously approve to unfreeze the employee slot at the water plant.
After executive session, council made a motion to reaffirm an agreement with Landtech, a development in Blythewood, for 58 water taps.
Landtech is a development that council approved back in November.
“We’re just reaffirming that agreement because its been sitting on the table,” Gaddy said.