Tega Cay set to sign agreement to acquire utility

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 1, 2014 

Tega Cay Mayor George Sheppard

— The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to the next step to take over the troubled, privately-owned Tega Cay Water Service utility.

The 59-page asset purchase agreement outlines city and utility responsibilities for the transfer from private to public ownership. The Council agreed to have City Manger Charlie Funderburk sign the purchase agreement.

“It’s just another step going forward to purchase the system,” Mayor George Sheppard said.

Tega Cay Water Service serves about 1,700 Tega Cay homeowners. The city provides water and sewer services to about 1,500 property owners.

On April 8 Council announced it and Tega Cay Water Service had agreed on a $5.85 million price for the sale. Council spent 45 minutes in executive session Thursday before taking the vote in open session. Signing the purchase agreement is similar to putting a house under contract, Sheppard said.

Closing is set for May 30, pending more needed Council approvals. Sheppard asks for patience from residents and says not all the problems plaguing the utility – mainly repeated sewage spills – will be fixed immediately.

“We’re going to take ownership of the system, if Council votes to do so, on May 30,” he said. “That does not mean that the entire system will be fixed on the 31st of May.”

The state Public Service Commission unanimously voted Thursday morning to approve the sale. Approval by the service commission and Department of Health and Environmental Control are needed. An April 28 letter to the service commission states the Office of Regulatory Staff has no objection to the transfer.

In approving the sale and transfer, the Public Service Commission waived a hearing and noted no letters of protest had been submitted. The commission now awaits closing on the transaction.

Both utility and city staff on Thursday afternoon described the Public Service Commission move as “one more step” toward a final deal.

“That’s definitely one step in the right direction,” said Katie Poulsen, municipal clerk for the city.

Poulsen said first reading on a bond and budget for the purchase will be scheduled for a special called meeting May 12. Second reading would be May 19.

If the city takes control of the utility, it won’t immediately become part of city-owned Tega Cay Utilities Department. The two would operate independently, as they do now, for a while, Sheppard said.

Combining the two “is probably something we would look to do in the next 10 years or so,” Sheppard said.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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