JENKINSVILLE — A deep issue faces the Jenkinsville Water Company in its efforts to add a well to the bottom of its water system.
Though the company’s day-to-day expenses are paid for with fees billed to members according to Water Company President Gregory Ginyard, grant funding has been used in the past to help fund improvements to infrastructure, such as putting in a new well or adding telemetry equipment.
At issue is who will serve as pass-through during the grant process as the Company moves forward. When questioned about the need for a pass-through, Ginyard replied that the Jenkinsville Water Company could go through any municipality as a pass through, including Jenkinsville where he is mayor.
“The rule is that any (grant funding) must go through as a pass-through a municipality,” he said. “Jenkinsville is a municipality. We don’t use that because I am chairman of the board of trustees and mayor of Jenkinsville. So, I didn’t want that to get all twisted, so we used the county as a pass-through. The county does not match any funds or supply any funds. It is a simple pass-through because of USDA rules that funds can’t come straight into JWC procurement.”
At the company’s January meeting, Ginyard mentioned that he is still working on a possible grant that would help fund an emergency connection on Highway 215 between Chester and Jenkinsville. Ginyard said he met with Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin to see if an emergency water tap could be set up on Highway 215. That possibility would involve a USDA grant.
Also, Ginyard said that adding a well to the lower end of the system can be done with a landowner’s permission but that the holdup is waiting to see about grant approval.
In years past, grant funding went through Fairfield County who served as a pass-through to relay any grant funding from the State Budget and Control Board to the Water Company. The County had no oversight over projects nor had any authority to do anything more than facilitate cutting the check for grant funds to the company.
The county has not served as pass-through since 2011 when County Administrator Phil Hinely requested by letter that the company keep on file with County:
“1. A copy of the document demonstrating your organization is federally tax exempt, such as 501(c) 3 or 501(c) 4, etc.
“2. A copy of the company’s most recent audit. This audit must have been performed by a certified public accountant licensed to practice in the state of South Carolina.
“3. A copy of the company’s latest IRS filing of form 990.”
Hinely’s letter stated that items two and three must reflect the close of the company’s most recent fiscal year, contain an unqualified audit reflecting the organization was in good standing with the IRS, the State of South Carolina Revenue Department and all other grant and loan funding sources, and that the documents must relay the audit and Form 990 within six months of the end of the Company’s fiscal year.
Without that information, the county could not consider any funding for the organization, nor would it assist the water company in any capacity or act on the company’s behalf as an administrator/pass-through agent for grants.
Hinely requested in 2011 that the information be sent to the county and updated annually. If that was not done so, the County would not serve as pass-through for the company.
When contacted, Hinely said he was unaware of any audits or information submitted to the county after JWC received the 2011 letter.
“We have given the audits … out to anybody who came in and asked for a copy of the audit just like the county does,” Ginyard said. “We have given out but we charge per page because we cannot afford … but we have given audits out. I don’t want to get into that (further) because I don’t know how to answer.”
He said that the situation with the county will not stop efforts for the company to receive grant funding.
“We will see if the county will serve as pass through or not. That will be determined this spring but it won’t stop the water company from receiving grants because if we have to use the Town of Jenkinsville as a pass-through, then we will,” Ginyard said.
Members and meetings
If company members bring concerns before the Jenkinsville Water Company during meetings from now on, Ginyard said those concerns will be addressed by the board and then the member will be contacted at a later time with information or answers to the issue at hand, whatever it may be.
“If we can we will answer your questions but we normally are going to hear what you have to say and then take it up and give you a response back … within a reasonable time in writing or through the office so that way we won’t be tied up like we normally are tied up with a whole lot of discussion,” Ginyard said.
It was not clear what led to the change in commenting policy between the board and its members.
JWC had some good news to report to its members, though. A new well has resulted in markedly less water usage from the Mid-County Water Company. During November 2012, 1,000 gallons were used from Mid-County. By contrast in January 2012, 1,444,000 gallons were used from Mid-County.
“Since the new well has been in, that has been the difference…. Our water sales have not gone down, but our production has gone up,” Ginyard said.
In other news:
• The board withdrew into executive session to discuss contractual matters. No action was taken.
• Board member Tony Taffar questioned how long the contract lasts with Mid-County since the company is using so much less of the Mid-County water now. Ginyard doubted the company would get a break on the contract and said it would be best to leave the matter alone.
• Board member Tangee Jacobs wondered about drought projections for the state and how that might affect the Company. Ginyard said that the Jenkinsville wells do not reflect that drought problem and that the wells have been run 12-13 hours per day with no problems with the water tables at the well sites. Ginyard said he believed the drought concerns deal more with surface water sources than with well water sources. Jenkinsville Water Company receives all of its water from well sources. He said the company still needs to add a well at the bottom of its system, however.
• Christy Johnson (billing issue and water turned off) and Bradford Cook (mud in water and atypically high bill) received lenience with issues related to water bills.