After more than a year of debate, extensions and waiting, York County Council voted to extend its franchise agreement with Carolina Water Service.
Council members voted unanimously Monday night to approve a new agreement for 25 years. The decision came without discussion, including a public comment period which was silent just before the vote. Council did spend time in a recent special called meeting on the contract, along with months working through it in executive session.
The franchise agreement between county and utility allows Carolina Water to operate in Lake Wylie. The one signed decades ago was set to expire this time last year, but both parties twice voted to extend the deadline by six months. The latest would have come Feb. 17.
Prior to the county decision, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman wrote to county manager Bill Shanahan urging caution before proceeding. He also asked state regulators not to approve the agreement until more data was reviewed including an audit, water sampling information and previous fines. Norman cited the utility’s service history as worrisome heading into another 25-year partnership.
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In a separate case, Carolina Water is looking for a statewide water and sewer rate increase. York County filed to intervene in the case, which will be decided by the state Public Service Commission. A hearing in the case has been approved for York County. A time and date haven’t been set. The service commission hasn’t decided whether to allow the county to intervene, either.