The Town of Elkin passed a resolution on Monday officially opposing legislative action that forces the transfer of any city’s municipal water system to another entity.
The resolution is a reaction to statewide legislation that was introduced in the 2011 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly forcing the involuntary conveyance of a city-owned water system to a Metropolitan Water District.
The controversy behind the water-grab stems from the City of Asheville, which operates its own water system. Wastewater service is handled by a Metropolitan Sewerage District that covers all of Buncombe County.
A legislative study committee through North Carolina’s General Assembly reported last year that combining systems could achieve efficiencies, and a bill passed this summer that would authorize a sewerage district to exercise “any power” of a city water system.
The measure, pushed by Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, and Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, was seen as a prelude to a merger. But critics suspect the ultimate goal was to privatize water services in Asheville, thus empowering control over the city’s water supply to an unelected sewer board.
The Asheville City Council placed to city voters in a nonbinding referendum last November, which they say should ice the plan. Eighty-six percent of voters said they wanted to keep the system.
The Town of Elkin commissioners debated the Asheville topic during Monday’s annual meeting, its first gathering of 2013.
“I recommend the town remain opposed to the forced taking of any local government infrastructure because it creates a dangerous precedent,” said John Holcomb, assistant town manager.
The resolution passed with 4 to 1 with Commissioner Terry Kennedy voting against the resolution.
“I am voting against the resolution in objection to the language as written,” stated Kennedy.