Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Brunswick County-Northwest utility transfer set in stone, county to acquire city’s system

The City of Northwest is home to less than 1,000 people in Brunswick County. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)
The City of Northwest is home to less than 1,000 people in Brunswick County. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Starting the first day of 2020, Brunswick County will assume ownership and daily operations of the City of Northwest’s utility system.

In October, the county first considered the utility transfer, initiated by the small northern Brunswick County city. The transfer includes 301 water and 267 wastewater customer accounts.

Related: County could acquire Northwest’s utility system by 2020, at city’s request

Monday, Brunswick County Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the conveyance agreement, with Commissioner Marty Cooke being absent due to illness.

Transition ahead

After the transfer, Northwest utility customers will pay rates on par with the county’s other direct utility customers, rather than through a wholesale rate that is currently passed on to customers by the city. Beginning in fiscal year 2022, Brunswick County projects increasing its wholesale water rate by 89% to accommodate an impending debt service associated with expansion and upgrade plans at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant.

As part of the transfer agreement, Brunswick County will extend a full-time employment offer to Northwest’s only utility employee after a typical screening process.

The county will assume approximately $1.4 million in debt and a total of $7 million in assets. To ensure a seamless transition, the county also approved spending $100,000 to replace approximately 300 meters in the city so reading technology is consistent.

According to a Brunswick County press release Thursday, the decision was an economic one for the City of Northwest.

“We are looking forward to working with the County in this process and trust that the merger will be in the best interest of our citizens and the community of Northwest,” City Councilwoman Sheila Grady said in the release.

As first shared in a special utility meeting July 23, Brunswick County reiterated its stance of being open to acquiring municipal systems to reduce regional costs.

“The County is open to providing proposals and working with other county-based utilities interested in having another entity acquire their system to discuss the process and potential benefits that a regional option offers customers,” the county’s release states.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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