Brunswick Co. commission chairman expresses concern in statement about proposed H2GO deal

Brunswick Co. commission chairman expresses concern in statement about proposed H2GO deal
The public hearing was held for the proposed interlocal agreement for the operation and joint ownership of water distribution and wastewater collection systems.

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Following a public hearing at Thursday night’s Leland Town Council meeting, Brunswick County commission chairman Randy Thompson expressed concern about the future of the pending utilities deal.

The hearing was held for the proposed interlocal agreement for the operation and joint ownership of water distribution and wastewater collection systems.

A couple of residents spoke, for and against the agreement. Those for the joining of the two entities cited the potential for shared costs of maintenance and upgrades to the new reverse osmosis plant.

Tyler Newman of the Business Alliance for a Sound Economy spoke against saying it’s a multi-million dollar discussion with major ramifications and said “the most important partner Brunswick County has not been at the table.” He believes many things have not been considered.

“There’s nothing about rates or fees, or the number of citizens impacted,” said Newman. “There’s been no discussion about the mandatory annexation into the Town for the provision of water and sewer.

Leland Town Manager David Hollis told council members town officials had reached out to Brunswick County on several occasions about “a  joint undertaking with all the entities in Northern Brunswick County, and the county was not interested in that.”

“Since we made the announcement that we are moving forward with this agreement with the sanitary district, which has been in the works for many months, the county has not contacted us for any further discussion. We have been very engaged with the county through this process,” said Hollis.

Following the meeting, commission chair Randy Thompson issued the following statement:

“At tonight’s public hearing in Leland regarding their pending utilities deal with H2GO, Town of Leland officials implied that the County was not interested in working with the Town. At the Town’s request, Commissioner Frank Williams and myself participated in multiple meetings regarding the County assuming the Town’s water system over the past few months. During our negotiations the County agreed to every single request made by the Town that we could legally accommodate. Unfortunately, based on the way this transpired, I can only conclude that the Town of Leland is more focused on empire-building than serving the citizens.”

Commissioner Frank Williams added the following comment.

“As Chairman Thompson stated, we met with Leland numerous times and negotiated in good faith. I believe Brunswick County residents would be well served by the economies of scale and increased efficiencies offered by a single countywide utility operated by the only entity whose elections are open to every county voter: Brunswick County Public Utilities.”

H2GO and the Town of Leland will be holding a joint meeting Friday, March 19, 2021 at 9 a.m. at the Leland Town Hall to consider the Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO commissioners/Town of Leland Town Council agreement.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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