Ridgeway Seeks Assurances During Public Water Hearing

The Town of Ridgeway’s official public hearing to discuss a resolution to join the proposed Fairfield County Regional Water Authority drew a grand total of zero members of the public to Town Hall Dec. 13.

In spite of the lack of turnout, Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring had a few questions of her own about the water authority for Columbia attorney Margaret Pope, who is assisting with the formation of the authority.

“Ridgeway has a sound budget, we have a balanced budget, we’re a small town,” Herring said. “As we move forward with this thing, it depends on the cost. If there were bonds sold or whatever, we would have to look again at that.”

Herring said she wanted to be sure that Ridgeway could, if they found the costs of membership to be too prohibitive, withdraw from the authority. Pope confirmed that Ridgeway could do so, as long as it did so before the authority incurred any debt, such as in the form of issuing bonds.

Herring also said she wanted to be certain that Ridgeway would retain ownership of its water and sewer infrastructure if they joined the authority. Pope said that they could do so.

With her questions satisfied, Herring underscored the need for the water authority as a possible solution to the county’s issues of growth and water distribution.

“We know there’s a water shortage. That’s just reality,” Herring said. “We know that’s not going away. We know there’s going to be growth from that industrial park. There’s going to be growth quicker here than in Winnsboro. I know the potential for growth is out there.”

The charter committee of the water authority meets again Jan. 23 at Midlands Technical College’s QuickJobs Center in Winnsboro. Pope said the next meeting would be devoted to establishing bylaws for the authority.

“The next step is to create it (the water authority) and establish bylaws,” Pope said. “Bylaws tell you how you’re going to vote – one entity, one vote; or volume-based voting.”

Council will hold a second public hearing at their Jan. 10 meeting.

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