A change in the makeup of the Amherst County Service Authority’s governing board is expected to begin in January as county officials prepare to add two new citizen members, with the first possibly coming by January.
The five-member board currently consists all of elected officials representing the Amherst County Board of Supervisors. As supervisors and county department heads fully dived into a wide array of ways to make the county more business-friendly last summer, the idea of bringing on citizen members with private-sector expertise to the authority’s board was brought up during discussions.
County Attorney Michael Lockaby has been working with Bob Hopkins, the authority’s director, to initiate the reconfiguration. Supervisors are expected to appoint the first citizen member to a four-year term starting on Jan. 1, 2020 and the second on Jan. 1, 2022.
County Administrator Dean Rodgers said the process will take time, with an end goal of having three supervisors and two appointed members. The citizen members’ terms will be staggered by two years to coincide with supervisor elections, according to a draft articles of incorporation awaiting the board of supervisors’ approval.
The board was set to vote last Tuesday on approving the articles of incorporation and a charter to include the reorganization, but tabled the matter to the service authority board’s next meeting due to the absence of Chairman Jimmy Ayers and Supervisor Jennifer Moore.
The authority board’s next meeting is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Originally formed in 1936 as the Madison Heights Sanitary District to provide public water and wastewater utility services in and around the area now known as Old Town Madison Heights, the authority’s service area has expanded significantly through the years. expanded significantly. In March 1987, the board of supervisors created the Amherst County Service Authority, a separate entity from the county with its own governing board.
The authority board was made up of appointed citizen members until 1953 when then-supervisors, disappointed with scarce growth in utility connections in 17 years, disbanded it and took over management, according to Hopkins. By late 2018 the authority provided roughly 18,000 residents with water and sewer service, Hopkins has said.
A few members of the Amherst County Economic Development Authority during a July 2018 meeting with supervisors on business-friendly initiatives said they believe the ACSA board could benefit from having representatives with professional experience from the private sector in dealing with complex utility issues.
Supervisor David Pugh said at the July 2018 discussion he is opposed to changing the current model of ACSA leadership and feels it has proven benefits. Hopkins has said he recommends changes be done gradually and after much planning.
Also last Tuesday, supervisors voted to hold a public hearing at its 7 p.m. Aug. 20 meeting on proposed amendments aimed at strengthening ordinances dealing with accumulation of debris, overgrown grass and littering. Lockaby said as the county is working to soon do away with open-top dumping containers that are open seven days a week at all hours and starting staffed convenience centers with certain hours it is anticipated some people will dump trash illegally.
“We know that’s going to happen probably somewhere in this county,” Lockaby said to supervisors. “We want to make sure these ordinances are up to date and up to snuff.”
Supervisor Claudia Tucker said she feels the county should pursue prosecution of illegal trash dumping and littering to the highest degree it can.
In other news:
- Supervisors voted to hold a public hearing Aug. 20 on a zoning measure to allow restaurants as a special exception use in Old Town Madison Heights. Jeremy Bryant, director of community development, said restaurants larger than 2,500 square feet currently are not allowed in the neighborhood and opening up the special exception process would bring potential restaurant businesses before supervisors and the county’s planning commission for review. “This would give us that flexibility,” Bryant said.
- The board agreed to hold another public hearing Aug. 20 to consider transferring an access easement across county property as part of the project to redevelop a former school on Phelps Road in Madison Heights into 40 apartments. Waukeshaw Development Inc., the Petersburg company heading the project, is ready to obtain construction financing to begin work but a sliver of county-owned land lies between the planned parking lot and Center Street, according to the county.
- Bev Jones, a retired Amherst County Public Schools teacher and county native, received reappointment to represent District 5 on the Amherst County Planning Commission. “She’s a pillar of the community,” Pugh said of reappointing Jones to the post. “She’s what Amherst County is all about.”
Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.