By Stan Welch
An exchange of e-mails between West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders and Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott at the end of last week and over the weekend offer an example of how elected officials who are willing to talk to each other in pursuit of a common goal can achieve that goal.
Pelzer recently voted to withdraw from the cooperative agreement that involved West Pelzer essentially handling both towns’ public works activities. Coincidentally, the Town of West Pelzer has agreed to sell its sewer system, including its treatment plant, to ReWa.
Faced with the challenge of operating its public works activities without assistance, and being pressured by DHEC, Pelzer Town Council held a special called meeting on Friday, June 1 and voted, without any public discussion, to employ Goldie & Associates to manage its water and sewer operations on a trial basis. The four month contract will be at a cost of approximately $35,000.
The two towns’ views on the effects of the sale of the West Pelzer facilities on a cooperative agreement between them differ greatly.
The agreement calls for Pelzer to pay 55% of the total costs of operating both towns’ public works departments, while West Pelzer pays 45%. Those percentages were based on the number of customers each town serves.
Pelzer, which took issue with several aspects of the agreement, voted to withdraw. One of their major concerns is the means by which the percentages are estimated.
Mayor Scott addressed this concern in a June 10 e-mail to Mayor Sanders, saying that he worried about being charged on the basis of billed usage. Scott wants to compare flow numbers for each town.
Mayor Scott has told the Journal that all he wants is the most accurate information possible.
“That’s the main reason we hired Goldie and Associates,” Scott said. “If it turns out that our percentage is actually higher than fifty five, so be it. We’ll live with that. But I want accurate numbers, and I don’t think analyzing bills is the best way to get those.”
Sanders, for his part, requested a formal vote by the Pelzer Council, reaffirming the 55/45 arrangement, asking that the matter be placed on the agenda for their June 11 meeting. Scott responded with an e-mail, dated June 9, stating six reasons to table Sanders’ request; the most cogent one being the town’s position that any decision be made after a full evaluation of their system by Goldie and Associates; a process that Scott says will take the entire four month term of the contract.
When asked by the Journal to confirm rumors that West Pelzer might simply refuse to accept and transport anymore wastewater from Pelzer, Sanders clearly denied such a possibility. “I am not at all sure that we have such an authority; but if we did, I would not exercise it. That is absolutely not the way that neighbors treat neighbors. It will be much better for all concerned if we can find a way to work this situation out.”
Scott’s next e-mail clearly confirmed that he holds the same view. In it, he offered to extend the existing 55/45 agreement until September 30, or such time as a new agreement is negotiated, whichever comes first. Sanders promptly accepted the offer, thanking Scott for the consideration. At the June 11 meeting, the Pelzer Town Council agreed to the extension of the joint public works agreement.