LELAND — Bill Beer was recently elected to serve on the H2GO Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer Board – but after a surprise vote taken last night during H2GO’s regular board meeting, he might never get a chance to be sworn in.
In a last-ditch effort to save a $35 million reverse osmosis plant, H2GO Commissioner Carl Antos made a motion to transfer all of the company’s assets to the Town of Belville, effectively dissolving the company as well as the H2GO Board of Commissioners.
In effect, the new commissioners elected by the people of Brunswick County will no longer have a board to serve on.
Antos was not reelected to serve on the board in the November elections and was scheduled to be replaced by newcomer Beer; now it appears Beer no longer has a position.
H2GO Public Information Officer Tyler Wittkofsky said that the move was made to protect H2GO customers and provide safe drinking water to its customers.
Wittkofsky said there will be no changes for customers, staff, or building locations and said that rates would not increase.
The resolution cites three specific reasons for the radical move to dissolve the company including, “Commissioner Trombley openly questioning the need for the district stating that construction of the RO water treatment plant will likely be stopped.”
The resolution also specifically cited Beer’s win in the November election as a reason for the dissolution of H2GO.
“Newly elected William Beer, who campaigned on a platform to ‘Stop further construction on the RO plant,’ stating that he is working closely with Trombley and Gerken and will seek to ‘abolish all activities and contracts related to the reverse osmosis plant.’”
The resolution states four specific instructions that include:
“An Agreement to Convey Water and Sewer Systems to Belville; An Assignment and Bill of Sale conveying title to the Districts personal property to Belville; Warranty deeds conveying title to the District’s 38 parcels of real property to Belville; and an Agreement for the Operation and Maintenance of Water and Sewer Systems with Belville.”
“I do not support putting any part of Leland, Navassa or unincorporated Brunswick County under a utility system controlled and operated by the Town of Belville. Neither town should use this as an effort to expand its territory and bring citizens outside of its boundaries under their influence,” – Frank Williams
Brunswick County Chairman Frank Williams expressed his surprise as well as concern with the unprecedented decision.
“First, this is a major move that directly impacts many thousands of Brunswick County residents, myself included, and tonight was the first time I have heard it even suggested, much less seriously discussed. Such a major change should be enacted with greater transparency than what we have seen here,” Williams said.
Williams also said he has concerns with how the decision was handled without public notice.
“It is important to note that, in situations where the county has assumed the assets of another utility, it does not happen overnight. The process typically begins with a mutually adopted memorandum of understanding and plays out over an extended period of time, typically six months or more, in order to ensure that all important details are considered and properly addressed. Either that did not happen here, or it did so put of the public eye,” he said.
Town of Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman said she would not comment on the H2GO decision since it has become a legal issue at this point.
Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.email@example.com