Citing the fact that the Highland County Sanitary Sewer and Sewer Use Rules had not been reviewed or updated in nearly 25 years, county commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and David Daniels said Wednesday that due to a number of issues, they felt it was time to conduct a thorough review.
“Some of the issues are operational and some are financial,” Daniels said. “Every year we discuss what our rates are going to be for the different systems, and we’ve got some outstanding debt on Rocky Fork Lake that over the course of 20 years has built up to around $500,000 plus.”
Daniels attributed the debt to unpaid bills and assessments, in addition to operational costs due to banned substances being put into the sewer system, and unapproved and uninspected connections.
“We’ve had some developments that have taken place that have taxed the system,” he said, “and we need to have a way to address that, and how we will bill and charge for that.”
He said a recent memo from Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley showed that loss of revenue due to delinquent user charges in 2019 alone totaling nearly $73,000 in the Rocky Fork Lake area.
A number of changes were being considered for the sewer use ordinance, which he said could include service call charges due to banned substances being used, penalties for discovery of banned substances that contributed to pump failure, and changes to the billing system.
“We’ve done some initial audits on a number of different properties,” he said. “We found people hooked in without the benefit of an inspection, more than the number of dwellings hooking into one pump, we’ve got people who have put on multiple units and are only paying one user fee — all those things need to be addressed.”
Daniels said changes in the sewer use ordinance will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
In another development, Britton said that up to 14 new jobs will be coming to the Leesburg Industrial Park due to a contract with Nelson Family Enterprises for construction of a warehouse.
The agreement was for the purchase of a five-acre tract at the industrial park for construction of a drive-through distribution warehouse measuring 16,000 square feet.
“We had gotten a call from them September of last year since they were interested in the industrial park for some expansion,” Britton said. “We turned that over to the (Community Improvement Corporation), and they’ve been working with that company since then.”
He described it as an “exciting project” from the Sioux City, Nebraska-based company, which is an engineering and industrial group with projects all across the nation.
“It’s a pretty exciting time for us since it’s a new facility and a new company that’s coming into Highland County,” he said.
A proclamation was issued by the commissioners in recognition of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Alternatives to Violence Director Dara Gullette spoke on a new event the organization is promoting called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” which will run through Monday, April 12.
“This started nationally in 2001, and it was designed for men to literally walk a mile in a woman’s shoes,” she said.
To participate in the annual event, she said people would pay $5 to nominate a man to “walk a mile in her shoes.”
Once nominees are posted, people will pay $1 per vote for the man they would like to see literally walk a mile in a pair of women’s heels, with the “good sport” receiving a free one-month membership at Impact Fitness and a special gift from the Alternatives to Violence Center.
All of the proceeds will go to benefit the Alternatives to Violence Center, Gullette said.
A self-described avid walker who logs three miles daily, Daniels remarked he’d like to participate, but doubted the existence of high heels in a men’s size 13.
Gullette said the organization’s annual trivia night has been scheduled for Oct. 29.
In other matters, one line item budget transfer resolution was approved, along with the contract with Nelson Family Enterprises and a letter of support for the Highland County Community Action Organization.
Britton said that Gene Reif has been hired as deputy dog warden to replace Macey Walker, who he said had moved out of state and had to resign the position.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.