The Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) Board of Members unanimously approved Sept. 16 a resolution authorizing the authority’s general manager and attorney to negotiate Greene County’s withdrawal from RSA.
“As everybody here knows, Greene has—upon resolution—stated its intent to withdraw from the service authority and by resolutions, the supervisors in both Orange and Madison counties have issued conditional consent to them,” said RSA General Manager Tim Clemons. “Right now, my understanding is Greene County is working through the VRA (Virginia Resources Authority) process and VRA has given Greene County a list of requirements they’ve got to meet in order to receive consent (to withdraw).”
VRA is the bondholder for the bonds Greene County holds for its water and sewer debt and that RSA holds for its debts, and therefore it must consent to Greene leaving.
“(VRA) has indicated they need conditional consent for Greene County’s withdrawal from RSA (which) will require a binding mediation between the parties, according to a letter we received recently,” Clemons said. “RSA will have to continue—if Greene withdraws—as a two-county authority for Orange and Madison; we’ll have to continue meeting our obligations to them, as well as our bond holders. This (resolution) is brought to you so once Greene has satisfied the VRA requirements and received conditional consent for the withdrawal from RSA then RSA will agree to mediation with Mark Rubin, who is a gentleman recommended by Sen. (Emmett) Hanger earlier this year.”
Clemons said the resolution gives himself and attorney Terry Lynn permission to negotiate with Greene County on behalf of the service authority.
Greene County Board of Members Representative Bill Martin said Greene welcomes the proposed resolution.
“The parties clearly need to talk,” Martin said. “For the good of all, we need to get Greene County’s withdrawal from RSA and our pending disputes resolved as quickly and as fairly as possible. We look forward to bringing the withdrawal from RSA to completion and ending all of our related disputes.”
Martin noted that it’s Greene County’s understanding that mediation is not required by VRA, but the county sees value in it.
“We don’t see any clarity in what ‘conditional consent’ from VRA means,” Martin continued. “It seems pointless and a needless delay. The parties need to talk. VRA has repeatedly urged RSA and Greene County to negotiate or mediate the essentials of Greene’s withdrawal in order for the disposition of assets and other terms of separation to be clarified. Regardless, we want to believe that VRA will help the parties on a path forward.”
Greene County has submitted to RSA a proposed withdrawal and transition agreement and proposed terms of withdrawal from RSA and Martin invited RSA to reply to those and to consider mediation in the VRA offices in Richmond.
“I feel like this is a good step forward,” said Carty Yowell, Madison County member. “I would like to see this thing come to a conclusion at some point so that we can all go back to our other lives.”
Yowell motioned to approve the resolution and Troy Coppage, of Madison County, seconded.
The board also tabled the approval of a new public-private partnership policy to allow Lynn the opportunity to go over it more.
The Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 allows “responsible public entities and authorities to create public-private partnerships with the development of a wide range of projects,” Clemons said.
“This item is brought before you today just to have the board begin thinking and considering the opportunities available to RSA as we continue to upgrade or replace infrastructure,” Clemons told the board. “I know this board is fully aware—(as are) all government agencies at this point—everybody grapples with infrastructure needs, including the need to repair and replace and the need to construct new.”
Clemons added that he’s aware of several utility authorities who have adopted the policy, as has Greene County. Orange County representative Jim Crozier noted that Orange had also adopted such a policy, but had not utilized it yet.
“This does not commit us to use this process?” RSA Board of Members Chairman Lee Frame, of Orange, asked.
Clemons said adopting it just makes it available, not required to use. The policy allows unsolicited proposals, but Clemons noted that does not mean RSA must look at them in-depth if it’s not something the authority needs.
“So, it wouldn’t have to go through a deep detailed financial analysis or anything like that? We just say we’re not interested in this?” Frame asked.
“That’s my understanding,” Clemons said.
Frame asked whether Lynn, the board’s attorney, had looked at the policy. When Clemons said she had not yet in detail, Frame suggested the policy be tabled until the board could get input from the attorney. Coppage motioned to table the policy for a later meeting and Martin seconded. The board unanimously agreed to table it.
The board unanimously approved moving to the second phase of the Germanna-Wilderness Water Improvement Plan.
“As you can see in (the) report, Phase 1 design is 33% complete and on schedule,” Clemons said. “We’re going to continue to pursue an aggressive timeline in order to achieve capacity before the second quarter of 2023.”
In a report, David Jarrell, director of operations, noted that initial hydro-geotechnical field investigation has been completed near the Rapidan River intake and findings were expected in the next few days.
“Recent mechanical and electrical investigation on the current plant site revealed that both existing ‘High Service’ pumps are individually capable of handling Phase 1’s 2.5 MGD (million gallons per day) rating, meaning that an additional pump and associated building, plumbing and electrical equipment will not be needed; this represents a significant time and cost savings,” Jarrell said in his report to the board. “The electrical service components originally destined for the new pump building would instead be part of a new chemical storage and feed building located between the existing treatment plant building and the clearwell tank.”
The new building allows the change from chlorine gas disinfection to a safer method using sodium hypochlorite, he said.
Bid documents for the plate site upgrades and river intake/pump station upgrades should be ready for advertisement by the end of October.
“So, the staff is seeking today the board’s approval to implement the Phase 2 portion of this project to include the land acquisition, selection of an engineer for Phase 2, commencement of the design for Phase 2 and acquiring funding for Phase 2,” Clemons said.
Crozier made the motion to go ahead with Phase 2 of the project and Yowell seconded.
Finally, Clemons updated the board about Capital Improvement Projects under way.
In Greene, the water main replacement on Reservoir Drive has been backlogged due to the contractor chosen, J.P. Tucker Excavating, also having manpower issues due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He told us he plans to start first thing next week,” Clemons said. “We have actually started discussions with the second low bidder … if he doesn’t, we will go back to the second low bidder to start. That job needs to be done.”