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Board Eyes Minutes

PRINCE EDWARD – County Supervisors approved a consent agenda at their December meeting but first had to work through, and separately approve, minutes from their November 16 special meeting on the water project.

The issue for Farmville District (701) Supervisor Jim Wilck was a statement Wilck wished to be included by the County Administrator in the minutes. However, the section of recording in question was not clear and, in the end, not added.

Wilck, with Crowder Construction and Draper Aden officials present at the special meeting, asked how far out before a proposed water system was expected to become profitable (where income met expenses) and was told by a Draper Aden speaker it probably won't be in the first five or ten years, though she said they have not run the numbers based on the final construction cost estimate and had not done detailed projections out 20 and 30 years.

Wilck said he turned to the County Administrator and asked how they make up the difference.

“He paused for a moment and said 'taxes.' And that's how I wanted it corrected. Just exactly what was said,” Wilck recounted.

Still, the recording is not clear (neither was The Herald's copy from the meeting.)

Board members discussed the matter, opting to approve it without further changes beyond amended board meeting minutes that did not include the statement.

Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt assessed that part of the reason it was garbled was that he had interjected something in there.

“But what worries me about putting it in there is if I…had heard him say that it would've really upset (me),” Gantt said.

He would later say he had never known Bartlett to give a one-word answer.

Farmville District (801) Supervisor Mattie Wiley assessed that if “any of us had heard the word taxes, it would've set off a bell and I think…somebody would've responded.”

“You know, I'm not saying I did, I'm not saying I didn't,” Bartlett said, when asked last week. “All I know is it…was not on the…disc.”

He would also comment, “I recall the incident…and I recall what Mr. Gantt recalled was that I started…he spoke also and…once he started, I stopped, I thought-I thought.”

Ms. Wiley made the motion that the minutes be approved.

“…I don't see why there's a big dispute,” Lockett District Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones had earlier commented in the board's discussion, “cause even if Mr. Bartlett did say taxes, what difference does it make? He's…not a voting member of this board and so what could he do…he can't make a decision to fund this thing with taxes, it's the eight of us that make decisions.”

Wilck dissented and Gantt and Prospect Supervisor Howard “Pete” Campbell abstained.

Bartlett told The Herald last week, “I think any person can kinda understand where the funds would come from if you don't have the water revenue. So I don't quite understand what the issue was on that. But I felt it would be a bad precedent to put something in the minutes that's asked for that you cannot verify… And I think everybody agreed it was not clearly recorded.”

He would also offer with reflection last week that there are so many unknowns regarding the project now-the final cost, if there will be any partners or not, any grant or low interest loans that would be available.

“Those are all going to impact on the financial analysis of the system, which would then affect the funding of the system and how that will be paid for and those are all unknowns right now,” he told The Herald. “No one knows what the final outcome of that's gonna be right at the moment. So, to say anything at this time is speculation.”

Bartlett also offered that he cannot state with authority one way or another how the funding will be handled. That, he said, is a board decision.

There are options for funding sources and grant opportunities, which would have to be researched and an outcome on each one reached before they will have the final funding structure in place.

“In my opinion, the board has been very frugal with taxpayer dollars and the proof of that is the tax rate of 42 cents, which is second lowest in our whole region and one of the lowest in the state,” Bartlett said. “So the past history of the board of supervisors over many years has been one of frugality and responsibleness to the taxpayers and the taxpayer dollars.”