HENDERSON & BUNCOMBE COUNTIES
State Representative Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) went on a speaking tour of local governments in Henderson and Buncombe counties. The topic of conversation was legislation that his Committee to Study Rates and Transfers/Public Enterprises is developing to address crumbling water and sewer utilities across the state. He explained a lot of former mill towns were left holding the bag when the mills went out of business. The towns then deferred maintenance until it was too late. They’re now taking one of three courses of action: extending water lines and charging new customers inflated rates, waiting for the legislature to bail them out at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, or merging to form regional water and sewer authorities. The state treasurer frowns on the first course of action; taxpayers don’t like the second; and a recent court case ruled a state-forced utility merger unconstitutional. Locally, the matter pertains to the Cane Creek system, which is already sending sewage from northern Henderson County to the Metropolitan Sewerage District in Buncombe County for treatment. An attempt to have the District acquire the system dissolved over the question of representation ratios on the board of directors, as a decades-long dispute over control of water treatment has left government leaders in Henderson and Buncombe wary of any future agreements.