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HEATH SPRINGS – The water system in Heath Springs has undergone many improvements over the past several years, improving water service to residents.
Many of the improvements, which include the installation of modern water lines, have been grant funded.
But that doesn’t come without a cost to the small town – the grants in most cases need matches from Heath Springs.
During Town Council’s July 21 meeting, Mayor Ann Taylor said the town has committed to spending $378,322 of its own money.
She said it’s time for council to consider raising the town’s water and sewer rates, which are much cheaper than those charged by the city of Lancaster and Lancaster County.
Council members reluctantly agreed.
“Our citizens are short of funds just like our town,” said Councilman Ted Sowell. “But we’ve got to do something. If not, we’re going to simply bog down and not be able to proceed.”
Taylor asked council to look over a rate schedule comparing rates between the town, the city of Lancaster and the county.
Heath Springs charges $15 for in-town residents for the first 3,000 gallons, while the city of Lancaster charges $19.57. Lancaster County charges $31.28 for the first 3,000 gallons.
Taylor said wastewater treatment is expensive, especially when the town must comply with mandates from the S.C. Department Health and Environmental Control and Environmental Protection Agency.
The town charges $15 for the first 3,000 gallons of sewer treatment.
Councilman Mark Bridges said he’d like to study the rates more before a vote is taken to raise them.
“We are dirt cheap,” Bridges said. “The town has done a good job keeping costs low.”
Taylor said she would like a recommendation from council by its Aug. 18 meeting.
“I think the time has come where we think with our heads instead of our hearts,” Taylor said. “If we’re fair, my conscience doesn’t bother me.”
Also at the meeting, council approved a contract with Advanced Development Concept of Matthews, N.C., to work on Phase II of the town’s water system improvements.
The phase will improve water lines on the west side of the town.
The company submitted the low bid of $447,702 to complete the work. Council voted unanimously to approve the contract.
Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 283-1151