Getting the county’s sewer system back into shape is not a cheap proposition, and it is hitting the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission hard in the wallet.

“We’re basically going through the reserves we had to take care of the issues that are out there that we’re having to fix on the go as we go,” said Executive Director Jimmy Junkin at a commission meeting Thursday. “Just wanted to make sure everyone’s aware we’re taking a 90 percent hit just through this fiscal year.”

That financial burden is hitting the utility’s repair and replacement reserve, which is used to fund new projects that aren’t budgeted but need to be done expediently or immediately.

Junkin used the example to help illustrate why the utility needs to increase water and sewer rates and tap-in fees. The utility’s current income is not enough to make the repairs necessary to keep the county and city growing, he said.

On a more positive note, Junkin said he had been working with staff to reduce overall expenditures by $2 million for Fiscal Year 2018, and had also managed to cut down on the increase in the average household’s water and sewer bill from around 14.7 percent to a little more than 10 percent.

In other business, the utility commission approved a new policy for delinquent bill payments, which took effect immediately, that will allow utility rate-payers who are behind on their bills to pay off what they owe gradually over an extended period of time.

Junkin said the utility is losing money on people who simply can’t afford to pay their past due bills because of their stringent policy. The new policy will allow low-income households that are more than $500 behind on water and sewer bills to pay in installments, $20 per month at a minimum.

While on this payment plan, the rate-payer will not have to worry about having service discontinued.

The commission also agreed to award a contract for part of a major Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project to T.B. Landmark, appointed an auditor for the end of this fiscal year, discussed agreement terms for the Peninsula at Golden Isles development in a closed session and were given an overview of some changes to the utility’s website.

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