By Heather Mullinix
The Tansi Sewer Utility District board of directors is again one member short following the resignation of Herb Pallett in March. Last week, board members Jim Heath and Trey Kerley selected three names to submit to Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. to fill the vacancy.
The decision on the three names came after a discussion of two candidates who were both active in the Stop the Tansi Sewer movement and were part of a lawsuit against the utility.
"Since the other two people I interviewed have had some activities with the Stop Tansi Sewer, I felt morally obligated not to include them in my recommendation," Heath said. "I just felt that when you work against something, it's pretty hard to convince people you're for it. That's my personal opinion."
Applicants for the position were Nathan Casteel, Darlene Greer, Frank Kierce and Thomas Kuhn. It was Kierce and Kuhn whom Heath said he could not support.
Heath moved to include Ed Yoder's name on the list. Yoder had previously been on a list of candidates to fill a vacancy left when former board member Mike Dalton's term expired. Kerley said he could not support Yoder as he was not present and, in April, Kerley had stated he would not support any nominee who was not present for the meeting.
He added, "In my opinion, including Mr. Yoder is a waste of time because I've already been told by the [Cumberland County] Mayor [Kenneth Carey Jr.] to submit three new names."
Casteel has 31 years of work experience with Goodyear, both in financial aspects of business and industrial planning. Following his retirement to Cumberland County, he worked as an architectural control committee inspector in Fairfield Glade and later provided administrative support for the community club's department that manages their sewer system, though he did not work in the sewer department.
He currently works part time at Bear Trace Golf Course.
Greer brings 30 years of experience as a business owner and managing employees. She stated she believed she could be a help to the utility district and to continue forward with her business experience.
"I think you need to get out there and talk to people and let them know how you really feel," she said. "And I like to do that. They need to know they don't have to be forced into this, but it is a good thing to have a sewer."
Kierce noted he'd been a plumber the majority of his life. He said the reason he'd become active in the Stop the Tansi Sewer movement was because of the district's rules and regulations which allowed for residents living within 500 feet of the sewer line to be assessed an availability fee as well as monthly service charges, regardless of if those residents used the service. TSUD has not enforced those provisions; however, those in attendance at the meeting noted as long as it was part of the rules and regulations, residents had no assurance they would be spared the cost.
"That's the way a lot of people feel," said Virgil Ferguson, an area resident who has also been active in Stop the Tansi Sewer group. "Don't make the people who don't want it pay it."
Heath said that was the way the district was currently operated, but others said Heath had been supporting a fee for those with sewer availability that were not currently using the service. Heath said that was true because the state requires the district to reserve capacity for all residences which could be served by the sewer.
"Those people are receiving a service and they should pay something," Heath said.
Kuhn echoed those comments and added he did not have a problem with the sewer utility, other than the availability and way the system had been presented to the public. He recommended looking into private grants to help finance the sewer system as well as looking to the possibility of the county assessing a lot fee for those that would benefit from the sewer line, adding those with vacant lots that are not currently suitable for building would benefit the most from the sewer system. Currently, only lots with residences or businesses can assessed an availability fee.
Kuhn said, "There's lots of ways it could be done if you don't think in the box."
Kerley moved to submit the four names to Carey for consideration. Heath agreed, adding he wanted to submit a letter with his objections to Kierce and Kuhn.
Prior to a vote, Ferguson asked if the board would consider him as a nominee.
"I'm opposed to the way the district is operating. I'm part of Stop Tansi Sewer, but I'm not on the lawsuit. Would you consider me?" he asked.
Heath said it may not be fair to the other applicants to consider a new name at the last moment, but Kerley said no deadline for applicants was announced and there was no requirement applicants submit to an interview with the board members prior to the meeting. Kerley withdrew his motion to consider the four names and Ferguson addressed the board.
"I'm opposed to the way the rules are set up," Ferguson said. "If we could change the bylaws for those that want it and not force those that don't. The objection is the availability fee hanging over their heads."
Heath said he'd heard various general complaints regarding the rules and regulations, however no one had taken time to go through the rules and highlight exactly what their objections were.
"I'm hearing that once those things are gone, the objections will disappear," Heath said. "We need to look at those specific objections so we can consider why those provisions are there, if we should keep it and if we can do away with those provisions."
He asked Ferguson to provide himself and Kerley with a copy of what the community might like to see done away with in the bylaws and rules and regulations prior to the next meeting, set for 3 p.m. May 16, to allow the board to study the issue.
Kerley then moved to submit Casteel, Greer and Ferguson as nominees for the board, supported by Heath. The motion passed. Mayor Carey will appoint a member to fill the vacancy.