Board delays votes on regional agreement, land purchase
After more than an hour of discussion during the meeting in the colonial courthouse, supervisors decided they needed more time before voting if the county is to enter into a memorandum of agreement for a Regional Wet Weather Management Plan with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District. The board also pushed off a decision on the purchase of property on Short Lane for a new utilities yard.
All 14 localities must agree to enter into the regional agreement, which county utilities director Marty Schlesinger said would save Gloucester $3 million. If one locality does not agree to enter into the agreement, the entire idea dies. So far, all of the localities that have voted on the matter have agreed to enter into the memorandum of agreement and there are only five localities, including Gloucester, who still have to vote.
According to Schlesinger, the region as a whole could save up to $1 billion if rehabilitation efforts, which are required by a state Department of Environmental Quality consent order, were conducted on this regional basis as opposed to each individual locality doing to the work on its own to comply.
Several supervisors were concerned that under the agreement, if a larger locality such as Norfolk had a major maintenance issue with its system, then Gloucester residents’ rates would increase proportionately to help offset that maintenance in another locality.
“I don’t want people to think I’m voting to have them pay for something that’s not theirs,” said Ware district supervisor Andy James.
Schlesinger said either way user rates will increase. “The combined local and HRSD rate will be greater (if we stay like we are now) than the combination of rates if you adopt the memorandum of agreement,” he said.