RONDA — After recent elections which unseated two sitting commissioners in the town of Ronda, members of the outgoing board made certain to address specific long-standing issues.
Write-in candidates Joann Royal (25.78 percent) and Kay Luffman (25.33 percent) received the highest number of votes. They will be replacing commissioners Gene Fowler (16 percent) and Rheajean Benge (11.56 percent), who did not receive enough votes to retain their positions.
Commissioner Helen Porter will be sworn in for an additional term with the new board members at the December meeting.
Before the sitting board dissembled, several outstanding issues were addressed last week including Commissioner Manual Wood’s water and sewer hookup.
“Just to reiterate to make sure everybody’s on the same page. Basically we are requiring Manual to hook onto the water system, but not having to go into the sewer system right because of policy,” said consultant Ron Niland, “and the object would be then for the town to send the appropriate information to Manual.”
That appropriate information was a letter of apology for the six years of trouble as well as clarifying for future reference why Manual does not need to be hooked up to the sewer line as per both the Ronda Town policy and the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority policy.
Benge, who researched the issue personally, clarified that the letter was to have the signatures of the mayor and all the commissioners as well as the town seal.
It also was clarified that a water meter would be installed at Wood’s residence as well after Benge reminded the board that the meter was the property of the town and the overdue balance was erroneously levied when Wood’s meter was stolen.
“This has been going on for six years and it’s time it stops,” said Benge. “It needs to be resolved.”
“We’ve been talking about this ever since I’ve been on the board and for whatever reason there’s not been a water meter up at Manual Wood’s,” said Commissioner Sandra Simmons, who reminded the board that water hookup was mandatory according to policy.
“I would like to say I have never in my life refused to get hooked up,” said Wood, who claimed there were also others in Ronda who were not compliant, however would not divulge names.
“Manual has constantly asked for a water meter to be put in,” said Benge.
“If they want to come hook me up fine, they don’t want to come help me up that’s also fine,” said Wood.
“We’re going to install a meter at your house,” said Mayor Victor Varela.
“I think what I’m hearing,” said Niland, “is that we’re basically just moving forward and putting [a meter] in and we’re not going to ask for the $50.”
That money would be helpful to cover an outstanding bill the town owes, according to the YVSA.
As the town representative on the YVSA, Benge has had to not only answer to the sewer authority but also present the bill to the commissioners.
“Really the issue is for us to have a discussion on whether or not the town is responsible for this or whether or not the mayor is responsible for this,” said Benge of the $4,261.60 past due.
This amount can be traced to Varela forgiving Carolina Fibers of water use that allegedly was not dumped in the sewer in a manufacturing process no longer used.
“He did so without board approval from the town of Ronda and also did not get approval from the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority,” said Benge.
“This is a large amount,” said Fowler. “It should’ve been brought before the board.”
“Yes it is,” said Varela. “It’s why it should be between me and the sewer authority.”
“That’s why it should be between the town and the sewer authority,” disagreed Benge.
“I’m hearing the board say tonight,” said Niland, “that the town is not liable for that money and I think there’s general agreement on that.”
The board agreed unanimously passing a resolution stating that the town of Ronda is not responsible for the YVSA bill.
The final commissioners work session for the outgoing members of the board will be at 5 p.m. on Dec. 7 with the new commissioners sworn in during the regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.