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Junction will sell water system to Danville

June 18, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

JUNCTION CITY - The city voted Thursday to sell its water system to Danville, but for what price is still unclear.

Mayor G.G. Harmon said the city had three choices:

* Have the state shut down the system because of serious problems.

* Raise both water and sewer rates 17 percent apiece to make needed repairs to the system.

* Sell the water system to Danville.

Council member Dewayne Taylor said the city didn't want to sell, but it could no longer afford to maintain the system.

"Once we got to looking at (whether the city could keep the system) we found that the future said, 'No,'" Mayor Harmon said.

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The city's attorney, Bill Stevens, said there are still details to work out before a final price can be determined, but he said it is likely the city will profit from the sale.

"It's not like I give you $10 and you give me something," Stevens said, explaining that the transfer of the system is complicated.

Final contract could be available for public review soon

He expects that a final contract will be available for public review in three or four days.

Danville bought Perryville's water system in June 2003 for $100,000.

Both Danville and Junction City have been in closed door negotiations about the sale of the system for nearly a year.

"It's not been easy," said Council member Roberta Zeller, who said she was sentimental about selling the system because it had belonged to the city for so long.

City residents have exorbitant water bills because the sewerage system is failing. Overflow has prompted state environmental violations, and there has been a long-standing moratorium on new sewer taps in the system.

Harmon hopes that the sale will result in lower rates, but mainly that it will prevent even higher ones.

During negotiations, Harmon had said that before a decision was made there would be a public meeting, but he said the council had decided against it because in talking with residents privately they believed that the public wanted to sell.

Carl Harmon likely will work for Danville

It is likely that Public Works Director Carl Harmon will go to work for Danville and Junction City will have to let go its water clerk, Rita Harmon. The two are married, but neither is related to the mayor.

In a budget draft the council is still considering, the city would buy $31,000 in tools. Carl Harmon has used his tools and leased them to the city for $1 every year, so the city doesn't own many tools.

Junction also is considering hiring another public works director who would take over Carl Harmon's other duties, such as street repair.

At the meeting Thursday, the council tabled its budget discussion.



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