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RSA board votes on fee, withdrawal: supports both unanimously

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The Rapidan Service Authority and Greene County took another step toward resolving their longstanding dispute last week with the reinstatement of a facility fee for Greene County users and progress toward Greene’s departure from the tri-county utility.

Following a brief public hearing at its meeting last Thursday, the RSA Board of Members unanimously agreed to reinstate the facility fee for Greene County users.

The elimination of the fee two years ago spawned the ongoing litigation between the Greene County administration and the utility, which serves water and sewer customers in Greene, Madison and Orange counties.

The fee, which passed by a 6-0 vote, will be $30 per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) for water users and $10 per account for sewer-only users.

The only speaker at the May 19 public hearing at the Greene County Library was county administrator Mark Taylor.

“I’d ask respectfully that RSA board, please incorporate, by reference in the minutes of this meeting, the comments from the previous public hearing held on the same subject on a prior date,” he said. “And, we’d like to simply and plainly say for the record that as the board members know, Greene County’s real objective is to separate from RSA and complete our withdrawal. If that should break down and fail, we really must have the facility fee back in order to continue with our local programs. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak and for the cooperation.”

Following Taylor’s remarks, and with no other speakers signed up to participate, the hearing was closed.

Orange County representative Jim Crozier made a motion to pass the facility fee, with Madison County’s Carty Yowell seconding the motion.

The fee will be included on customers’ June billing.

With that bit of business in the books, the RSA board turned its attention to the recent Greene County withdrawal resolution negotiated by the chairs of the three county boards of supervisors.

Two weeks ago, supervisors in Madison, Orange and Greene adopted resolutions approving terms for Greene County’s departure from the utility. Generally, those terms state that RSA will transfer specified assets within Greene to the county at no cost by June 30.

The resolution before the RSA board mirrored the ones before the three county boards of supervisors—particularly the following five points: a payment of $1.35 million from RSA to Greene County; transfer of real property and assets from RSA to Greene County; lease of the RSA headquarters on Route 33 from Greene County to the authority through Dec. 31, 2023; dismissal with prejudice all litigation; and satisfaction by Greene County of all Virginia Resource Authority requirements.

In discussing the proposed resolution before the board, Greene County representative Bill Martin noted that a full settlement is still in the works.

“I understand there is a lot left to do, but this confirms that the RSA Board is consistent with the broad terms as developed by the three county board chairs,” RSA Board Chair and Orange County representative Lee Frame said.

Later, Martin noted if the withdrawal moves forward as planned, there will not be a need for the facility fee as Greene County does not plan on levying it.

“If Greene’s withdrawal does not move forward (for whatever reason) then Greene will need the facility fee to continue paying off the debt that Greene assumed from RSA, and for infrastructure needs under the same legal agreements between the county and RSA,” he said.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Greene County’s Steve Bowman made a motion to approve the resolution before the board that was seconded by Yowell. Again, the motion passed unanimously, 6-0.

At that point, RSA attorney Terry Lynn presented a response to Greene County’s withdrawal agreement, though the board did not discuss the response at Thursday’s meeting.

“I want to acknowledge the hard work that has gone on between representatives of each of the counties,” Coppage said at the conclusion of last week’s meeting. “I think we took a step in a positive direction today and it’s because of a lot of hard work that went on between representatives of the three counties.”

The RSA Board of Members next meets June 16 at 2 p.m.

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